Amla, also known as Indian gooseberry, is one of the most antioxidant-rich foods on Earth. Though unfamiliar to many, particularly in Western countries, powdered and dried amla fruit is commonly used in Ayurvedic herbal preparations and the subject of hundreds of articles in the medical literature, including papers with hyperbolic titles like “Amla…a Wonder Berry in the Treatment and Prevention of Cancer.”

Are All Gooseberries the Same?

Indian gooseberries are not to be confused with Barbados gooseberries, Cape gooseberries, Chinese gooseberries (also known as kiwi fruit), Jamaican gooseberries, or Tahitian or star gooseberries.

Amla and Cancer

In vitro studies have shown that amla may have anticancer properties and not only appear able to block cancer cell growth, but also cancer cell invasion. Amla kills cancer cells but leaves normal cells alone. It was tested against six human cancer cell lines: lung cancer, liver cancer, cervical cancer, breast cancer, ovarian cancer, and colon cancer. When amla was dripped on cancer cells, the growth rates cut in half, then stopped completely. Amla then began killing off the cancer. By the end, more than half the cancer cells were dead. 

A Powerful Source of Antioxidants

Amla is, on average, the single most antioxidant-packed whole food on the planet. One teaspoon of gooseberry powder costs about four pennies and provides 1,500 units of antioxidant power, which is more than the average person gets in an entire week.

Reducing Our Cholesterol

Just 500 milligrams of powdered amla, which is about a tenth of a teaspoon, may work as well as Zocor, a leading cholesterol-lowering drug.

Improving Our Arterial Function

Amla may reduce artery stiffness, so it may be a good alternative to statins in individuals with diabetes who have artery dysfunction because of its benefits without the adverse effects of drugs, which may include muscle damage or liver dysfunction.

Amla and Diabetes

Some clinical research has also shown that amla powder may work as well as a leading diabetes drug—again without the side effects.

Better Digestion

Dyspepsia is a fancy word for an upset stomach—feelings of fullness, discomfort, nausea, bloating, belching—affecting up to one in five individuals. One teaspoon of dried Indian gooseberry powder three times a day may work as well as a gel antacid every three hours: significant decreases in peak acid output and a cutting of dyspepsia symptom scores in half.

Other Benefits

Indian gooseberries have also been found to have cough-, fever-, pain-, stress-, and diarrhea-suppressing effects.

Where to Find Amla

Amla can be purchased online or at Indian spice stores. Although some Ayurvedic herbal supplements have been found to be contaminated with heavy metals, none of the samples of powdered amla tested so far appear to be contaminated. Whole Indian gooseberries can be found in the frozen section of Indian grocery stores, but some find them inedible—astringent, sour, bitter, and fibrous all at the same time. The powder isn’t much tastier, but it can be disguised in something with a strong flavor, like a smoothie. Alternatively, amla can be packed into capsules.

Eating Amla Fruit

Amla can be bought in various forms: frozen, dried, sweetened, salted, pickled, packed in syrup, packed in nitrogen. Add a teaspoon of powder to smoothies, and you probably wouldn’t even taste it.

For substantiation of any statements of fact from the peer-reviewed medical literature, please see the associated videos below.

Image Credit: Adobe Stock. This image has been modified.

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