Amla, or Indian gooseberry, is native to India and considered sacred by many in the Hindu religion. During World War II, it was issued to Indian soldiers as their vitamin C ration. Recent medical research is also uncovering amla's potential in managing high cholesterol, liver issues and diabetes.
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Amla contains vitamin C, fiber and potassium, along with many antioxidants. According to Purdue University's School of Horticulture, amla has a respected place in Eastern medicine for its apparent ability to ease digestive upset and other issues. In Western medicine, some amla studies also show promise. For example, a February 2014 report in the scientific journal "Food & Function" highlights a study from Father Muller Medical College in India, which summarized amla's anti-diabetic effects derived from its antioxidant properties.
Liver and Cell Protection
Another study in "Food & Function," this one from 2013, reports amla may protect and heal the liver from toxic damage while protecting the body's cells in general. The study indicated amla may be effective in preventing and treating the toxic effects of liver-damaging compounds such as heavy metals and alcohol, while generally improving the function of the liver. The fruit's antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and detoxifying qualities may also help protect the body's cells from damage.
A study from the "European Journal of Clinical Nutrition" reports amla might help lower cholesterol. The study focused on men between 35 and 55 years old, with either high or normal cholesterol. They were given raw amla supplementation for 28 days, after which their cholesterol levels were measured. In both groups, cholesterol levels decreased. The participants then stopped taking amla and were retested two weeks later. Over that time, the high cholesterol group's levels increased to nearly pretrial levels.
How to Incorporate Amla
Amla can be eaten alone, although its sour taste may be a turnoff for some people. There are ways around this, however. For example, Purdue University's School of Horticulture says Indian amla fans report chasing the native sour fruit with some water. This process, they say, actually produces a sweet and refreshing aftertaste. Other options include sprinkling amla with sugar, cooking it in honey and saffron, baking it into desserts or turning it into preserves.