Ayurvedic medicine has long made use of one of the best-kept secrets of the Indian subcontinent: a small, tangy, seasonal fruit known as amla, or Indian gooseberry.
Packed full of vitamin C and other antioxidants, amla is purported to have many health benefits. Just 100 grams of Amla can provide up to 445 milligrams of vitamin C.(1) To put this into perspective 100 grams of orange will give you approximately 53 milligrams of vitamin C.
Chances are you haven’t had a chance to make amla part of your diet, since it’s not only seasonal but regional as well, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be aware of this small green and yellow fruit.
1. Amla And Cancer
Amla may have an important role to play in the treatment and prevention of cancer, according to an article published in the European Journal of Cancer Prevention in 2011. Calling amla a “wonder berry”, the article insists that the fruit is “arguably the most important medicinal plant in the Indian traditional system of medicine, the Ayurveda… The fruit is used either alone or in combination with other plants to treat many ailments such as common cold and fever; as a diuretic, laxative, liver tonic, refrigerant, stomachic, restorative, alterative, antipyretic, anti-inflammatory, hair tonic; to prevent peptic ulcer and dyspepsia, and as a digestive.”(2)
However, it is its chemopreventative effects that make it particularly compelling for cancer researchers. Amla possesses powerful antioxidant properties, as well as anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory properties which can help prevent the proliferation of cancer cells.
2. Amla And Diabetes
Amla has been shown to be effective in lowering blood glucose levels and improving lipid profiles in type 2 diabetic patients – as well as in healthy patients – according to one 2011 study(3). In 2014, the journal Food And Function profiled the anti-diabetic effects of amla in a review of several studies(4).
3. Amla As An Anti-Inflammatory
Amla targets and reduces inflammation on a cellular level, according to a study published in 2013 in the British Journal of Nutrition, inhibiting inflammatory factors and improving vascular function(5).
4. Amla In Dealing With Arsenic Poisoning
Long-term exposure to environmental toxins like arsenic can have a negative impact on our health, especially our immune systems. A recent article dissected how amla may actually help mitigate the harmful effects of such toxins, by preventing apoptosis and necrosis caused by enhanced oxidative stress(6).
Other Health Benefits Of Amla
A 2012 article explains the numerous other health benefits of amla as a “plant… used both as a medicine and as a tonic to build up lost vitality and vigor. [Amla] is highly nutritious and could be an important dietary source of vitamin C, amino acids, and minerals. The plant also contains phenolic compounds, tannins, phyllembelic acid, phyllembelin, rutin, curcuminoids, and emblicol. All parts of the plant are used for medicinal purposes, especially the fruit, which has been used in Ayurveda as a potent rasayana and in traditional medicine for the treatment of diarrhea, jaundice, and inflammation.”(7)
Amla In Your Diet
Amla is a tart yet sweet fruit which can be eaten fresh, dried, juiced, or preserved easily. Dried amla makes a pleasant palate cleanser after meals, while fresh or preserved amla can be incorporated in sauces or chutneys. Either way, this fruit can make an excellent addition to your diet, especially if you enjoy Indian cuisine.