Amla: Nutrients, Health benefits, side effects and other facts

We, being Indians, know about alma. We in India produce and consume amla on a big scale. It is consumed raw, in pickle form and as a chyawanprash or powder or amla kanthi. Some people also consume its fresh juice.

Amla, also called as Indian gooseberry, is known for its high content of Vitamin C. Many claim amla having at least 600 mg Vitamin C in 100 gm weight. This amount is much greater than any commercial Vitamin C tablet. One single Indian gooseberry contains Vitamin C equal to 2 oranges. When we compare 100 gm of both fruits Indian gooseberries contain 20 times more Vitamin C or ascorbic acid.

Nutients or nutritive value of Indian gooseberries

To know the health benefits of amla we first should know its nutrient value. From the table given below you can get an idea about it.

Energy48 kcals
Moisture90 gm
Protein1 gm
Fat3 gm
Fibre1 gm
Carbohydrates4 gm
Calcium36 mg
Phosphorus 11 mg
Iron4 mg
Vitamin C600 mg
Nutients in amla each 100 gm

As we can see in the above table it contains 48 calories, total dietary fibres 3 gm and most important is amount of vitamin C.

Heath benefits of amla

Now we will see its health benefits one by one.

Digestive health

To maintain the health of the digestive tract we should include dietary fibres in our diet. Dietary fibres hold the water with their osmotic effect and make the stool softer. This property helps to fight and treat constipation. It also has laxative and prokinetic properties proven in animal studies.

The same food also helps to reduce the intensity and susceptibility to the habit of irregular bowels and irritable bowel syndrome. Additionally it reduces other problems of digestive system such as dyspepsia and peptic ulcers.

A large scale research study also examined the effect of amla tablets on the digestive tract. They had found that amla tablets reduce the incidences of gastro-esophageal reflux and what people called symptoms of acidity in local language. With this effect, amla has a great gastroprotective effect. Excess stomach acid causes esophageal ulcers, peptic ulcers and gastric cancers.

Oxidative stress

Additionally high contents of Vitamin C and other antioxidants amla reduces the oxidative stress in the human body. Amla has a lot of antioxidants. More the humans eat antioxidants, the less are chances of getting diseases like cancer. With these effects incorporated it reduces dyslipidaemia and also works as anti aging food.

Anticancer properties

Amla is known for the prevention and treatment of cancers. A review study states that Amla is also reported to possess neuromodulatory, chemomodulatory, chemopreventive effects, free radical scavenging, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antimutagenic and immunomodulatory activities, properties that are efficacious in the treatment and prevention of cancer.

Heart health

In the above paragraph we have seen that Indian gooseberries prevent dyslipidemia and oxidative stress. It is a good anti-aging agent. This property also reduces the propensity of heart attack and atherosclerosis. It works to reduce cardiac diseases due to lifestyle.

Diabetes mellitus

In one study the effect of amla powder was studied. In this study 1 gm, 2 gm and 3 gm amla powder was given to healthy volunteers and patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus for 21 days. It was found that on day 21, in all these people fasting and postprandial blood glucose level was significantly improved. Also the lipid profile of these volunteers had improved with increased HDL levels and reduced LDL levels.

Hair growth

A study was conducted to examine the effect of amla extract on hair growth. This clinical study was designed to evaluate the efficacy and safety of a hair serum formulation containing amla extract, freeze-dried coconut water, and the micronutrient selenium along with sandalwood odorant and peanut shell extract in healthy male and female volunteers with hair fall. It was found that this extract promotes the growth of hair and reduces the hair fall in both male and female volunteers.

Blood thinner

Amla has anti-inflammatory and anticoagulant properties. When the effect of 50 mg/kg fruit extract was studied on human volunteers it indicated that this extract of indian gooseberries reduces THP alfa, IL-6 and inflammatory markers. This property of blood thinner helps in preventing heart attacks and stroke.

Skin health

Indian gooseberries are good for skin health and prevent skin diseases. It can be used as cosmetics and treatments of skin diseases. Amla extract stimulated proliferation of fibroblasts in a concentration-dependent manner, and also induced production of procollagen in a concentration- and time-dependent manner. It appears that amla extract works effectively in mitigative, therapeutic and cosmetic applications through control of collagen metabolism.

Who should be cautious while eating amla?

From the above discussion it is clear that amla has blood thinning properties and sugar lowering properties. You should be cautious if you have the following conditions.

  • If you are on anticoagulant treatment or on blood thinner, Indian gooseberries may enhance its effects. You should be cautious if you are consuming these drugs. You should tell your doctor about it.
  • If you are a diabetic and on blood sugar lowering agents, amla may reduce your blood sugar more. You should tell your doctor so that he/she can adjust the doses of drugs accordingly.
  • You should be cautious if you are going for a surgery or a tooth extraction. Anticoagulant effects may make you bleed more. You should stop consuming these berries days before and tell your doctor about it.
  • Eating raw Indian gooseberries may make your teeth painful. You should be cautious while consuming them.
  • Excessive drinking of Indian gooseberries may make you suffer from diarrhea. You should consume them in moderation.

How is amla consumed?

Amla being abundantly available and cheap, it is consumed on a large scale in India and other parts of Southeast Asia. You will easily find it with any fruit seller in the local market. It is commonly consumed in the following forms.

  1. Raw gooseberries: Many people like to eat this fruit raw. It tastes somewhat bitter and sour. It feels very fibrous while eating. People like to eat this with some salt.
  2. Pickle: As these fruits are not available round the year in many areas it is stored as pickles. Older the amla pickle the better it tastes. Sometimes if not made with proper care fungus may grow in it. If the proper method of recipe is followed it lasts much longer.
  3. Chyawanprash: For thousands of years chyawanprash is consumed and considered as an immunity booster in Indian traditional system of medicine Ayurveda. It is also thought to increase intelligence, boosting the IQ.
  4. Powder: In dried powder form it is consumed alone or with powders of other herbal extract. Indian traditional system of medicine recommends this powder for many digestive problems like constipation and irregular bowel habits.
  5. Awla kanthi: This is a boiled and dried form of Indian gooseberries with salts. It is considered to be effective for treating dyspepsia and heartburns. It is also used for constipation and motion sickness.
  6. Juice: Many people like to make juice of Indian gooseberries. It contains a good amount of Vitamin C and when people drink it with ginger it is a very good laxative.

Sources
  1. Goraya, R. K., & Bajwa, U. (2015). Enhancing the functional properties and nutritional quality of ice cream with processed amla (Indian gooseberry). Journal of food science and technology, 52(12), 7861–7871. https://doi.org/10.1007/s13197-015-1877-1
  2. Mehmood, M. H., Rehman, A., Rehman, N. U., & Gilani, A. H. (2013). Studies on prokinetic, laxative and spasmodic activities of Phyllanthus emblica in experimental animals. Phytotherapy research : PTR, 27(7), 1054–1060. https://doi.org/10.1002/ptr.4821
  3. Kapoor, M. P., Suzuki, K., Derek, T., Ozeki, M., & Okubo, T. (2019). Clinical evaluation of Emblica Officinalis Gaertn (Amla) in healthy human subjects: Health benefits and safety results from a randomized, double-blind, crossover placebo-controlled study. Contemporary clinical trials communications, 17, 100499. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.conctc.2019.100499
  4. Al-Rehaily, A. J., Al-Howiriny, T. A., Al-Sohaibani, M. O., & Rafatullah, S. (2002). Gastroprotective effects of ‘Amla’ Emblica officinalis on in vivo test models in rats. Phytomedicine : international journal of phytotherapy and phytopharmacology, 9(6), 515–522. https://doi.org/10.1078/09447110260573146
  5. Yokozawa, T., Kim, H. Y., Kim, H. J., Okubo, T., Chu, D. C., & Juneja, L. R. (2007). Amla (Emblica officinalis Gaertn.) prevents dyslipidemia and oxidative stress in the ageing process. The British journal of nutrition, 97(6), 1187–1195. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0007114507691971
  6. Baliga, M. S., & Dsouza, J. J. (2011). Amla (Emblica officinalis Gaertn), a wonderberry in the treatment and prevention of cancer. European journal of cancer prevention : the official journal of the European Cancer Prevention Organisation (ECP), 20(3), 225–239. https://doi.org/10.1097/CEJ.0b013e32834473f4
  7. Akhtar, M. S., Ramzan, A., Ali, A., & Ahmad, M. (2011). Effect of Amla fruit (Emblica officinalis Gaertn.) on blood glucose and lipid profile of normal subjects and type 2 diabetic patients. International journal of food sciences and nutrition, 62(6), 609–616. https://doi.org/10.3109/09637486.2011.560565
  8. Majeed, M., Majeed, S., Nagabhushanam, K., Mundkur, L., Neupane, P., & Shah, K. (2020). Clinical study to evaluate the efficacy and safety of a hair serum product in healthy adult male and female volunteers with hair fall. Clinical, Cosmetic and Investigational Dermatology, 13, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7522433/
  9. Rao, T. P., Okamoto, T., Akita, N., Hayashi, T., Kato-Yasuda, N., & Suzuki, K. (2013). Amla (Emblica officinalis Gaertn.) extract inhibits lipopolysaccharide-induced procoagulant and pro-inflammatory factors in cultured vascular endothelial cells. The British journal of nutrition, 110(12), 2201–2206. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0007114513001669
  10. Fujii, T., Wakaizumi, M., Ikami, T., & Saito, M. (2008). Amla (Emblica officinalis Gaertn.) extract promotes procollagen production and inhibits matrix metalloproteinase-1 in human skin fibroblasts. Journal of ethnopharmacology, 119(1), 53–57. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jep.2008.05.039



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