Gooseberries, as the name suggests, are small round to oval berries that grow wild in Europe, North America and Siberia. They belong to the family Glossulariaceae of the genus ribes, which also includes currants. These berries are loaded with antioxidant polyphenolics and vitamins, and come in different colours, flavour and shapes.
Indian gooseberry is commonly known as amla and it belongs to the Euphorbiaceae family. These fruits are small and light green in colour with six vertical grooves on them and a hard seed inside. It is quite nourishing but has an extremely sour astringent taste.
The tree of this fruit is considered sacred in India. This fruit ripens in autumn in the forested hilly areas of the Indian subcontinent. It is rich in vitamin C and minerals and is considered a powerful antioxidant agent. Both dried and fresh fruits can be consumed due to their various health benefits. They have been used in Ayurvedic medicine to treat several ailments including diabetes. This fruit is known for building up the body’s defense against infections. Drinking gooseberry juice on a regular basis acts as a natural remedy against many diseases.
Gooseberry: Health Benefits
Gooseberries are known for their various health benefits due to their wide array of nutrients. Indian gooseberry has been used in Ayurvedic medicine to treat several ailments and improve overall health.
1. Treatment of Diabetes
Gooseberry is beneficial for diabetic patients as it contains chromium which acts as a therapeutic for them. Its low sugar and high fibre content makes it ideal for diabetic patients. It reduces blood sugar by stimulating the isolated group of cells that secrete the hormone insulin. It also improves the glucose metabolism of diabetics and inhibits the production of glycosylated haemoglobin i.e. haemoglobin molecules bound to glucose, thus keeping the body balanced and healthy.
2. Good for Heart
Gooseberry is considered beneficial for heart health as it is rich in antioxidants, iron, anthocyanin, flavonoids, potassium etc. it prevents the blockage of flow of blood to the heart by reducing bad cholesterol. It also improves nerve health by facilitating proper flow of blood. The antioxidants in it protect the nerve cells from damage by oxygen free radicals. Thus, gooseberry improves cardiovascular health by strengthening the heart muscles.
3. Gastrointestinal Health
Indian gooseberries are highly fibrous, comprising of nearly 80% water. Thus they act as natural laxatives in clearing the accumulated matter from the intestinal tract, thereby relieving constipation, irritable bowel syndrome and other gastrointestinal problems. Fiber plays an important role in binding the toxins such as cancer causing toxins found in the colon, thus preventing colon cancer. It provides great relief from gastric syndrome and hyperchlorhydria (burning sensation in the abdomen).
4. Brain Health
Gooseberry is a rich source of vitamins and minerals which are vital for brain health. The high iron content in the blood provides oxygen to the brain as well as improves memory. The high amount of antioxidants found in gooseberry can prevent degeneration of brain caused due to oxygen free radicals.
5. Improves Appetite
Taking gooseberry powder with butter and honey before a meal is effective in improving your appetite as it helps to balance nitrogen levels, thereby increasing your weight in a healthy way.
6. Prevents Cancer
Gooseberry is rich in antioxidants which restrict the growth of carcinogenic cells by keeping harmful free radicals at bay. Its high Oxidative radiance Activity Capacity (ORAC) prevents cell damage from oxidative stress. Due to these properties, it is effective in preventing tumour cell growth, thus providing protection against stomach, skin and liver cancer. The antioxidants can also counterattack the side effects of anti-cancer drugs.
7. Prevents Anaemia
Being rich in iron, gooseberry can prevent anaemia by increasing the level of iron in the blood.
8. Relieves Menstrual Cramps
Indian gooseberry is effective in getting rid of menstrual cramps. For this purpose, you have to start consuming it few weeks before menstruation so that it is already in your system to give beneficial effect.
9. Eye Health
Gooseberry is beneficial for your eyes as well. Being rich in antioxidants, it protects the eye retina from oxidative stress. It reduces the risk of cataract or nearsightedness and prevents the loss of eye vision or macular degeneration. Drinking gooseberry juice with honey is effective in improving vision and reducing intra-ocular tension and cataracts.
10. Boosts Immunity
Being the richest source of vitamin C, gooseberry plays an important role in increasing immunity. Due to its antibacterial and astringent qualities, it improves the body’s immune response towards common diseases like cold, flu and coughs, and prevents infections.
11. Healthy Nervous System
Being rich in potassium, gooseberry strengthens the nervous system, thus improving circulation. It also contains bio-flavonoids that help maintain the permeability of capillaries to enable the nutrients to pass through the blood vessels more freely.
12. Aids in Weight Loss
Indian gooseberry juice has been found to be effective in lowering the fat content in the body. It reduces food accumulation in the body by increasing the metabolism of food. Fat accumulation can generate toxins which slow down the digestion process, thus adversely affecting your health. As stated earlier, gooseberry is a rich source of vitamin C which can flush out toxins from the body. Thus, obese people can consume gooseberry on an empty stomach in the morning to get maximum benefits.
Gooseberry: Skin Benefits
Gooseberry is rich in vitamin C and antioxidants, which are beneficial for your skin. Eating a gooseberry early in the morning can give perfect glow to your skin. Its various skin benefits are as follows.
13. Anti-ageing Benefits
Ageing is caused due to damage by free radicals. Gooseberry is rich in vitamin C and antioxidants which play an important role in reviving the skin texture and making it smooth and radiant. Vitamin C removes toxins from the body, thus reducing skin blemishes and pigmentation. Antioxidants prevent free radical damage to the skin, thus preventing the onset of signs of ageing such as fine lines and wrinkles.
14. Skin Cleanser
Indian gooseberry is used to prepare amla powder which is a great source of vitamin C, amino acids and tannins. A face mask prepared from this powder acts as a natural cleanser by removing dirt and grime from your face as well as tones up your skin. You can make a thick paste by mixing amla powder with warm water and adding a few drops of olive or jojoba oil. Apply it on your face for 10 minutes and wash off with warm water.
15. Treatment of Oily Skin
If you have oily or pimple prone skin, you can make a face mask by mixing amla powder and rose water and apply it on your face. A mixture of amla powder, turmeric powder and lemon juice is effective in treating acne and scars. Amla juice also has astringent properties that can tighten pores, giving a clear healthy look to oily skin.
16. Treatment of Dry Skin
If you have dry skin, you can make a face pack mixing amla juice with half a teaspoon each of yogurt and honey. This pack should be used once a week for maximum results. You can also make a paste combining amla powder with multani mitti, rose water and olive or sweet almond oil and apply it on your face for 10 minutes. Wash off with warm water.
17. Improves Complexion
Drinking gooseberry juice on a regular basis can brighten your complexion. The whole fruit powder including its chopped seeds possesses antibacterial and astringent properties. Thus, it exfoliates your skin by breaking down the top layer of old tired skin cells to reveal the natural glowing complexion beneath.
18. Reduces Pore Size
Facial treatment with amla powder helps shrink enlarged pores and restores skin firmness by stimulating collagen production. This benefit can be attributed to its high vitamin C content and other beneficial antioxidants.
Gooseberry: Hair Benefits
We all wish for long lustrous locks and Indian gooseberry can be beneficial in that respect. It acts as a hair tonic by encouraging hair growth and preventing several hair problems. Amla oil is widely used to improve hair health. Some of the benefits of this fruit in hair care are given below.
19. Prevents Pre-mature Greying
Topical application of gooseberry in the form of powder, paste or oil nourishes the scalp and prevents pre-mature greying of hair. You can take a few gooseberries and cut them into pieces. Dry these pieces in the shade and boil them in coconut oil till they become like charred dust. This dark oil is effective in preventing greying of hair. Moreover, the nutrients in gooseberry will penetrate your hair, making it softer, shinier and voluminous. A mixture of amla powder and shikakai powder can be used to colour the hair naturally.
20. Prevents Hair Loss
Regular intake of Indian gooseberry not only helps in combatting excessive hair loss but also stimulates hair growth. You can also wash your hair with fresh amla juice.
21. Natural Conditioner
The water in which dried gooseberry pieces are soaked overnight can be used as a last rinse while washing your hair. This acts as a conditioner by nourishing your hair. A mixture of amla powder and olive oil cleanses your scalp naturally.
22. Combats Scalp Problems
Amla oil is great for healthy hair and scalp as it combats scalp problems like dandruff, itching and boils. Its cooling effect on the scalp is great for curing heat boils that develop all over the scalp. It is also a great remedy for frizzy hair and split ends, thereby strengthening the hair follicles and improving their softness and thickness.
Gooseberry: Nutritional Value
Gooseberries are considered as one of the healthiest fruits because of their nutritional value. Fresh gooseberries contain more than 80% water besides protein, minerals, carbohydrates and fiber. They are a good source of antioxidants, iron, vitamins A and C, potassium, magnesium and calcium as evident from their nutritional profile.
Nutrition Value per 100 g.
(Source: USDA National Nutrient data base)
|Principle||Nutrient Value||Percentage of RDA|
|Total Fat||0.58 g||3%|
|Dietary Fiber||4.3 g||11%|
|Pantothenic acid||0.286 mg||6%|
|Vitamin A||290 IU||10%|
|Vitamin C||27.7 mg||46%|
· Calories: Gooseberries are low in calories with one cup providing just 66 calories. Moreover, they are devoid of fat and cholesterol and low in sodium.
· Vitamin A: They contain small amounts of vitamin A with 100 grams of fresh berries providing 27.7 mcg or 46% of the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of this vitamin.
· Vitamin C: Raw gooseberries are rich in vitamin C. A cup of gooseberries provides nearly three-fourths of the RDA of this vitamin. Cooking them destroys this nutrient and canned gooseberries have half of the vitamin C found in their raw counterparts.
· Other vitamins: Fresh gooseberries contain small amounts of certain essential vitamins such as pyridoxine (vitamin B-6), pantothenic acid (vitamin B5), folates and thiamin (vitamin B-1). These vitamins are essential for metabolism and have to be provided from external sources.
· Bioflavonoids: Bioflavonoids are natural pigments which are collectively known as vitamin P. Many of them like vitamin C have antioxidant properties that provide protection against cancer.
· Fiber: Gooseberries are a rich source of fiber. One cup contains almost a quarter of dietary fiber required during the day. Fiber not only aids proper digestion and prevents constipation but also helps in lowering the cholesterol levels.
· Potassium: One cup of gooseberries provides nearly 10% of the RDA of potassium. This mineral plays an important role in promoting a regular heartbeat, maintaining the balance of water in the cells and tissues of the body and preventing high blood pressure.
· Antioxidants: The antioxidant properties of gooseberries can be attributed to the presence of vitamin C as well as antioxidant compounds like emblicanin, punigluconin, pedunculagin etc. They also have high amounts of phenolic phytochemicals such as flavones and anthocyanins. Gooseberries have an oxygen radical capacity (ORAC) value of 3387 umol TE/100 grams.