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Amla: Indian gooseberries vs. cancer, diabetes, and cholesterol

January 17, 2012 by Michael Greger M.D. in News with 43 Comments

I’m out on the road speaking so much that I’m always on the lookout for handy, healthy snacks. Trail mix has been my standby, a homespun mix of nuts and dried fruit that has evolved as I’ve learned more over the years.  When USDA released new antioxidant data in 2007 I switched to pecans (see The Best Nut) and golden raisins (see The Healthiest Raisin). Then I found out that goji berries had five times more antioxidants than raisins (see Antioxidant Content of 300 Foods), making them one of the best Superfood Bargains. And that was before I figured out how to buy them even cheaper than raisins! (see Are Goji Berries Good for You?).

That was all before the landmark paper “The Total Antioxidant Content of More Than 3100 Foods…” was published, though. I added dried apple rings to the mix, given the preliminary anti-inflammatory data reported in last Tuesday’s video-of-the-day Dried Apples Versus Cholesterol and started exploring the newest front-runners, as detailed in Wednesday’s Better Than Goji Berries. Leading the pack by a whopping margin (200 times the antioxidant content of blueberries!) were Indian gooseberries, also known as amla or amalika.

As a Western-trained physician, I had never heard of amla, a common constituent of Ayurvedic herbal preparations. The only “gooseberry” I had ever known was the Chinese gooseberry (later branded “kiwifruit”). I was surprised to find hundreds of articles on amla in the medical literature, and even more surprised to find papers with titles like “Amla, a Wonder Berry in the Treatment and Prevention of Cancer,” published last year in the European Journal of Cancer Prevention. Last week, in Amla Versus Cancer Cell Growth and Amla Versus Cancer Cell Invasion, I documented some of these recent findings.

In this morning’s video-of-the-day Amla Versus Diabetes, Indian gooseberries go head-to-head against a leading diabetes drug, with perhaps the most shocking findings since my Saffron For The Treatment of Alzheimer’s video. Many of my medical colleagues are skeptical of the ability of plant foods to alter the course of disease, forgetting that many of the most powerful drugs in our modern arsenal were derived from plants. Doubt that a simple flower (like hibiscus, see Better than Green Tea?) can have physiological effects? Think opium poppy. Yesterday’s video-of-the-day Power Plants is one of my favorites from volume 7, a potent reminder of the botanical bonanza prescribed by Hippocrates: “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”

-Michael Greger, M.D.

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Dr. Michael Greger

About Michael Greger M.D.

Michael Greger, M.D., is a physician, author, and internationally recognized professional speaker on a number of important public health issues. Dr. Greger has lectured at the Conference on World Affairs, the National Institutes of Health, and the International Bird Flu Summit, testified before Congress, appeared on The Dr. Oz Show and The Colbert Report, and was invited as an expert witness in defense of Oprah Winfrey at the infamous "meat defamation" trial. Currently Dr. Greger proudly serves as the Director of Public Health and Animal Agriculture at the Humane Society of the United States.

View all videos by Michael Greger M.D.

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  • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/mike-quinoa/ Mike Quinoa

    I’m certainly going to check this out. There are tons of South Asian stores in Toronto, so I should be able to score a good deal :)

  • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/david-schmidt/ David Schmidt

    OK, hooray, I finally got some dried Amla (gooseberries), but how do I eat them? Soak for a few hours first maybe?

    • Ianchoweller

       boil water & leave until it turns to room temp.  while this process is on wash the Indian gooseberry in normal water. Add 2 teaspoon of turmeric powder in the boiled & cooled water along with the gooseberry in a tight container & leave for 10 days (occasionally shake the container for mixing.

      After 10 days take 2 spoons of the water from the container first thing in the morning when you wake up, (know your glucose readings before starting this treatment) check after 10-12 days & be surprised at the result  

    • Partho

      Hi david.

      It will be more benificial if you just cut them and eat them along with honey. Honey alond with Amla will cretae wonders for your body.

  • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/bettinac/ BettinaC

    Dr. Greger – this is really exciting news, especially the finding that amla can kill breast cancer cells. As someone who is currently on the chemo drug Taxol, which you note is a plant-based anti-cancer drug in a previous video, I can inform you that it has painful side effects. So, does amla really have no short-term or long-term side effects? And, could you please enlighten us as to what form of this thing would be the healthiest to consume – the powder format (which seems the most readily available), and if so, how does one consume the powder?

    • Partho

      Amla has no side effects…short term or long term…u can use it throughout ur life..

  • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/leafycafe/ leafycafe

    Hey, maybe Paula Deen should be a rep for an Indian Gooseberry producing company!!

    • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/mgreger/ Michael Greger M.D.
      • power

        Dear Dr.. my family history is non diabetic.. but from last 2 years my father aged 65yrs is suffering from Diabetics.. once it was controlled but again goes to 239 level, he is now taking zyde-mf half twice a day. please suggest how much Amla he needs in a day to control the sugar level. please also mention how to consume the amla.
        rgds:
        c b s

  • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/georgei/ GeorgeI

    Hi Dr. Greger;

    I googled on “amla powder”. Almost all of the ads I found for it sell it as a hair care product which sounds kind of scary.

    Where do you get yours?

    Can I buy it in the Montgomery County, Maryland area? My Organic Market?

    Thanks

    • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/mgreger/ Michael Greger M.D.

      There’s an Indian store in Gaithersburg in the Grand Market plaza on Muddy Branch and then there’s another in Rockville off Randolph near where it hits the pike.

  • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/georgei/ GeorgeI

    Dr. Greger;
    Is this the place you refer to in Rockville?

    http://www.yelp.com/biz/dana-bazaar-rockville-2#query:Indian%20Grocery%20Store

    • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/mgreger/ Michael Greger M.D.

      Yeah! Tell them “Dr. Michael” sent you (they know me for my gratuitous mango purchases :)

  • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/soupy/ soupy

    I stirred 1 teaspoon of powdered amla into my daily glass of V8 juice, along with a sprinkle of black pepper and 1/2 teaspoon tumeric – tasted OK.

    • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/mgreger/ Michael Greger M.D.

      That’s an even better idea than you might know! I’m working on a new video on food synergy, documenting evidence that when certain foods are eaten together the sum of nutritive value may be greater than the parts. And there is indeed an amazing reaction that takes place between the phytonutrients in black pepper and turmeric. Eating black pepper at the same time as turmeric boosts the bioavailability of curcumin–the chief purported cancer fighter in turmeric–by (you sitting down?) 2000%! My only suggestion would be to choose the low-salt V8, as there is new evidence on just how bad sodium may be for the heart. See also my video Salt OK if Blood Pressure is OK?

      • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/toxins/ Toxins

        whoah, 2000%! I cant wait to see that video!

    • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/yummy/ yummy

      Soupy..thanks for your “recipe”…I’m going to try it in the morning and also add a sprinkle of cayenne pepper to spike it up a bit.

  • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/georgei/ GeorgeI

    Good link for getting dried Amla:
    http://tinyurl.com/84vter3

    I didn’t have to much luck getting dried amla yet. The Indian store I tried was out and even on the internet, most places are selling it as a hair tonic — which makes it scary for me to think of eating it.

    I haven’t used the link above yet, but it was the only one I found where it is sold as food/-not a cosmetic…and the price is reasonable.

    • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/bgcuster/ bgcuster

      Try ZNaturalfoods.com, that’s where I ordered it.

  • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/bgcuster/ bgcuster

    The very same day I watched your videos on amla I ordered it. Not only will I put it in my daily smoothies, I will put it in my son’s smoothies as well. What he doesn’t know………, anyway he is a high school senior with no interest in changing his eating habits. So I will continue to make him two smoothies daily and add in some “good”ies as well. Ground flax seed, amla and pecans. Shhh, don’t tell him.

  • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/georgei/ GeorgeI

    Given the other videos about lead in ayurvedic products I wonder how safe amla powder is. I know China has poor safety standards. I have to wonder about India as well.

  • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/foodlover/ foodlover

    Thanks for sharing this info on how to fight cancer, diabetes, and cholesterol by having this kind of fruit. I am going certainly to check this kind of fruit. Other info that I have read about health can also be found here: http://day3cafe.com

    • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/georgei/ GeorgeI

      You might want to wait on that.
      Dr. Greger has more recent videos that reveal that many brands of Amla (triphala too, as well as other folk medicine supplements ) contain lead.

      • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/mgreger/ Michael Greger M.D.

        Amla is clean Georgel–just the triphala was contaminated. Phew!

        • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/georgei/ GeorgeI

          Dr. Greger, my apologies for possibly spreading misinformation. In one of your latest videos I thought you said that some brands of Amla test were free of lead, but that other brands were not.

  • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/slash5/ slash5

    Does anybody know how many grams of amla powder is in a teaspoon?

    Thanks.

    • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/georgei/ GeorgeI

      I haven’t calibrated my old school, non-electronic scale for a while. I also don’t know if there are different grades of amla powder. Having said that I just threw a teaspoon full on my scale and got about 10 grams. HTH

  • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/slash5/ slash5

    Thanks George. I was taking 3 teaspoons a day when I should have been taking 3 grams. Based on your calculations, that’s 30 grams a day. I didn’t notice any adverse events but I’ve cut my amla down to 1/3 teaspoon a day.

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  • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/data/ data

    Does anyone know of Amla being sold in Vancouver BC as a powder, pickled or frozen? I am from India and can attest to the widespread recommendations by Ayurvedic Doctors, Elders and other well meaning gurus but I never took them seriously.

    They say a prophet is never accepted in his own land so Dr. M. Greger I have some great news for you…are you sitting down? lol…. find a way to get this information out to Indians in India that have one of the highest rates of diabetes and you will have the reverse of a prophet is not accepted in his own land…..:)

    I wish you the best and now back to watching your videos…you are an amazing and awesome human being!

    Data

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/GNRJP4BBSWVNDBXGEK3JMD3IFE Display Name

    I just bought Golden Berries but realized they are not Indian Goose Berries…or are they? I see conflicting info on the internet. 

    • Toxins

       Golden berries are completely different from Indian gooseberries. Indian gooseberires can be found as a powder in Indian store. Also, if you tried to eat dried Indian gooseberry it would be extremely bitter and quite terrible tasting. Its best to mix them with smoothies.

  • 2pac

    i cant seem to find the right topic ummm cholesterol?? why do they say its bad? ITS VITAL AND LDL IS NOT CHOLESTEROL please reply………….

  • 2pac

    LDL is vital aswell to recycle cholesterol

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  • Scott

    Can I add powdered amla to coffee or yogurt as part of breakfast?

    • Khadija Ali

      I want to ask can I eat dry amla,or amla powder for diabeties

  • pb

    where can i buy Indian gooseberry powder or supplement?

  • Laura Plumb

    As a practitioner of Ayurveda it is so affirming to see the potency one of our most important herbs, the mighty Amalaki (amla) verified by western medical research. Thank you for your wonderful website!

  • David

    Cheaper than raisins….source?

    Current Trail Mix Combination?

    Thanks you Dr. Greger!

    This is a great paragraph:

    I’m out on the road speaking
    so much that I’m always on the lookout for handy, healthy snacks. Trail
    mix has been my standby, a homespun mix of nuts and dried fruit that
    has evolved as I’ve learned more over the years. When USDA released new
    antioxidant data in 2007 I switched to pecans (see The Best Nut) and golden raisins (see The Healthiest Raisin). Then I found out that goji berries had five times more antioxidants than raisins (see Antioxidant Content of 300 Foods), making them one of the best Superfood Bargains. And that was before I figured out how to buy them even cheaper than raisins! (see Are Goji Berries Good for You?).

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