Indian gooseberry or amla boasts of potential antioxidant and heart-health benefits. From its benefits to side effects, know all about it!

Indian gooseberry or amla is one of the most nutritious and medicinal fruits in Ayurveda. It is born out of a tree that is grown natively in parts of Asia. Indians extensively use amla Iin in their day-to-day life because of its myriad culinary and herbal medicine uses. The fruit has high vitamin C and is often said to have potential antioxidant and heart-health benefits.

What is Indian gooseberry?

Indian gooseberry, also known as amla, is a fruit native to the Indian subcontinent and surrounding parts. It is highly prized in Ayurvedic medicine for its multiple health benefits. The fruit is round and light green in colour, with a sour and bitter taste. Indian gooseberries are high in vitamin C and contain other nutrients such as iron, calcium, and antioxidants. They are consumed in several forms, including fresh, dried, or as part of juices, pickles, and dietary supplements.

Indian gooseberry
Know the many benefits of Indian gooseberry. Image courtesy: Adobe stock

Health benefits of Indian gooseberry

Indian gooseberry boasts an array of health benefits, some of which include:

1. Manages heartburn and acidity

Amla may have a soothing effect for anyone who is prone to heartburn, acid reflux or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). A study of 68 people with GERD analysed the effects of taking 1,000 mg of amla fruit tablets daily on GERD symptoms. As per observation by researchers, the group consuming amla fruit felt a greater reduction in the frequency and severity of heartburn and vomiting than those in the placebo group.

2. Rich in vitamin C

Indian gooseberries are one of the finest sources of vitamin C, which is important for boosting the immune system, promoting collagen synthesis for healthy skin, and working as an antioxidant to combat oxidative stress, explains nutritionist Avni Kaul.

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3. May improve hair and skin health

Indian gooseberry may aid in preventing the breakdown of collagen which forms itself as a firm but flexible protein matrix in your skin and soft tissues. As per a study, Indian gooseberry is widely used in Thailand to enhance hair growth, and as per some evidence, it can also curb the functioning of an enzyme that leads to hair loss. Amla is mostly used in hair care products or as a natural remedy for hair loss and premature greying. It nourishes your scalp, bolsters hair follicles, and promotes healthy hair growth.

3. Boosts digestive health

Amla is known to boost digestion by stimulating the secretion of gastric juices, promoting better nutrient absorption, and relieving symptoms related to indigestion, acidity, and constipation.

4. Strengthens the immune system

Since amla is rich in vitamin C, it may show some immunity-boosting effects. Amla is said to be the second richest natural source of vitamin C (ascorbic acid), having approximately 600 to 700 mg per fruit, according to the Journal of Food Science and Technology. Vitamin C has been known to strengthen the immune system in various ways. It is an anti-oxidant so it reduces cellular damage and inflammation.

Short-term inflammation does not harm the body gravely, but chronic inflammation can increase the risk of developing conditions like type-2 diabetes, heart disease, or autoimmune disorders. The vitamin C content in amla bolsters the immune system, helping the body fight off infections, colds, and flu. It also boosts the activity of white blood cells, which are crucial for immune function, says the expert.

Indian gooseberry
Consuming Indian gooseberry can strengthen your immune system. Image courtesy: Freepik

5. Supports heart health

Daily consumption of Indian gooseberry may help reduce cholesterol levels, reduce inflammation, and boost blood circulation. This may lead to decrease in the risk of cardiovascular diseases like atherosclerosis and hypertension. Studies done on humans found improved blood fat profiles after consuming supplements with Indian gooseberry that included reduced triglyceride and total and LDL (bad cholesterol), alongside increasing HDL (good cholesterol).

Alongside, Indian gooseberry might aid in reducing high blood pressure levels by acting as a vasodilator or by expanding blood vessels. High levels of blood pressure pose a potential risk factor for heart disease.

6. Lowers blood sugar levels

Amla is also good for diabetics! A small study done on 32 people who consumed 1-3 grams of Indian gooseberry powder daily for 21 days saw a significant decrease in fasting and post-meal blood sugar levels in comparison to the control group.

Side effects of Indian gooseberry of amla

While amla, offers numerous health benefits, excessive consumption might lead to certain side effects. These could include digestive problems such as diarrhoea or abdominal discomfort, particularly, in sensitive individuals. Also, the high acidity of amla might exacerbate acid reflux or heartburn in some people. Those having allergies to gooseberries or related fruits need to exercise caution. Moderation is important to avoid adverse reactions and maximize the benefits of this fruit, says the expert.

How to use or consume Indian gooseberry?

Indian gooseberry fruits can be consumed raw, even though they have a sour taste which might not be appealing to many people. In India, it is consumed in pickled or amla candy form. There are some regions that also use Indian gooseberry in dal, a traditional lentil dish. The market is also flooded with amla supplements, sold as amla fruit powder or powder-filled capsules. This powder can be used to brew tea or can be added to drinks or smoothies. Amla juice is also quite popular!

Normally, amla supplements contain 500-1000 mg of Indian gooseberry per serving. Therefore, amla can be consumed in many ways for your overall well-being. But check with your healthcare expert before adding it to your diet, especially if you have a certain health condition.

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