Benefits of Eating Indian Gooseberry or Amla

by Meenakshi Nagdeve last updated - Medically reviewed by Vanessa Voltolina (MS, RD)

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Amla or Indian gooseberry, rich in vitamin C, helps in fighting coughs & cold, boosting immunity, slowing down aging, & improving hair, skin, and throat health. These berries also help in reducing blood sugar levels and improving heart health.

Amla acts as a diuretic agent and is therefore thought to enhance food absorption, balance stomach acids, fortify the liver, and improve overall health.

What is Indian Gooseberry (Amla)?

Indian gooseberry or amla (Emblica officinalis or Phyllanthus emblica) is an extremely sour, nutritious fruit of a tree which grows in India, the Middle East, and a few other Southeast Asian countries. It is known as Amla in India and Amalaki in Sanskrit. Due to its powerful antioxidant properties, it is often used as in Ayurvedic medicines to boost skin and hair health, and also overall immunity of the body. It belongs to the Euphorbiaceae family. This fruit ripens in the autumn in wet forests and hilly areas of the Indian subcontinent; the tree is considered sacred in India.

The fruit is light green in color and can be quite tart and fibrous to eat. In India, it is eaten with salt and chilly powder or made into a pickle or sugared candy. It is a vital ingredient of Triphala and chyawanprash, both of which are traditional herbal Indian formulations to boost health. Amla is also available in various other forms, such as a powder, juice, oil, tablets, and spice. Amla tea and dried amla are also consumed by many for its powerful nutritional benefits.

A close-up view of Indian gooseberry or amla with leaves

Amla is good for your eyes, hair, and skin. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Nutrition Facts

Gooseberries, raw
Serving Size :
NutrientValue
Water [g]87.87
Energy [kcal]44
Energy [kJ]184
Protein [g]0.88
Total lipid (fat) [g]0.58
Ash [g]0.49
Carbohydrate, by difference [g]10.18
Fiber, total dietary [g]4.3
Calcium, Ca [mg]25
Iron, Fe [mg]0.31
Magnesium, Mg [mg]10
Phosphorus, P [mg]27
Potassium, K [mg]198
Sodium, Na [mg]1
Zinc, Zn [mg]0.12
Copper, Cu [mg]0.07
Manganese, Mn [mg]0.14
Selenium, Se [µg]0.6
Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid [mg]27.7
Thiamin [mg]0.04
Riboflavin [mg]0.03
Niacin [mg]0.3
Pantothenic acid [mg]0.29
Vitamin B-6 [mg]0.08
Folate, total [µg]6
Folate, food [µg]6
Folate, DFE [µg]6
Vitamin A, RAE [µg]15
Vitamin A, IU [IU]290
Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) [mg]0.37
Fatty acids, total saturated [g]0.04
16:0 [g]0.02
18:0 [g]0.01
Fatty acids, total monounsaturated [g]0.05
18:1 [g]0.05
Fatty acids, total polyunsaturated [g]0.32
18:2 [g]0.27
18:3 [g]0.05
Sources include : USDA

Indian Gooseberry Nutrition

The Indian gooseberry or amla is abundant in vitamin C and vitamin A. It also contains high levels of folic acid and minerals like calcium, potassium, phosphorus, iron, carotene, and magnesium. Indian gooseberries are low in calories, with 100 grams of the fruit containing only 44 calories, according to the USDA National Nutrient Database. Fresh Indian gooseberries contain more than 80 percent water, in addition to protein, minerals, carbohydrates, and fiber. Their beneficial properties are mainly due to its rich antioxidant content.

Indian Gooseberry (Amla) Benefits

Let’s take a look at the major benefits of Indian gooseberry (amla) in detail:

Boosts Immunity

Indian gooseberries are a natural immune booster as they contain a powerful cocktail of vitamins C and A, polyphenols, alkaloids, and flavonoids such as quercetin and kaempferol. According to a study published in the International Journal of Pharmaceutics, amla has potent antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. Amla juice, in Ayurveda, is often used to increase the white blood cells in the body, which are the main line of defense for the immune system. White blood cells attack and eliminate foreign toxins and substances into the bloodstream throughout the body.

Hair Care

Amla powder is used in many hair tonics as it enriches hair growth and hair pigmentation. It strengthens the roots, maintains color, and improves luster. Applying amla oil to the roots of your hair improves hair growth and color. Amla oil is very popular in India because it has been shown to reduce the chances of hair loss and baldness. This quality is due to the carotene content of amla, as well as its iron and antioxidant content that prevents free radical damage to hair follicles and hormones.

Anti-aging Agent

Amla prevents health-related hyperlipidemia by reducing the number of free radicals in the body through its antioxidant qualities. Vitamin C and antioxidants help scavenge free radicals; free radicals are associated with signs of aging like wrinkles and age spots. Amla powder is used as a face mask to remove age spots.

Aids in Digestion

Amla is very high in fiber, like most fruits. Fiber adds bulk to the stool and helps move food through the bowels and keeps bowel movements regular. This reduces the chances of constipation. Soluble fiber (found in many fruits) can also bulk up loose stools and reduce diarrhea. Amla also stimulates the secretion of gastric and digestive juices, so food is digested efficiently, nutrients are absorbed in an optimal way, and you feel lighter and healthier. A 2014 study published in the American Journal of Food Technology found that the amla and amla powder retained water. This property helps reduce constipation and can help protect you from various gastrointestinal disorders.

It also provides from the various gastric syndromes and hyperchlorhydria (burning sensation in the abdomen). As a laxative, it helps flush out toxins or harmful substances that cause discomfort or illness, so the process can begin. It then cools the burning sensation and reduces the discomfort often felt during diarrhea.

Controls Blood Sugar

Gooseberry contains chromium, which has a therapeutic value for diabetics. It stimulates the isolated group of cells that secrete insulin, thus reducing blood sugar in people with diabetes. When blood sugar is reduced, glucose is used by the cells as functional energy. Thus, the metabolism is stronger and you have more energy, without the plunges and spikes in blood sugar that are dangerous for people with diabetes. Chromium also enhances the effect of beta-blockers, which are used for heart health, by reducing the levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol in the body.

A 2011 research study published in the International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition on the effect of amla fruit on blood glucose and lipid profile of type 2 diabetics stated that it has anti-hyperglycemic and lipid-lowering properties.

Hearty Health

Berries –like blueberries and gooseberries–have been proven to improve heart health. Amla powder strengthens the heart muscles, so the blood circulation is more effective throughout the body. Amla is shown to have a hypolipidemic effect on the body and also helps in reducing blood pressure. Its hypolipidemic effect also protects us from atherosclerosis and coronary artery diseases. The iron content in amla also promotes the creation of new red blood cells, thereby increasing circulation and the oxygenation of organs and cells to maximize growth and regeneration of tissues.

Acts as a Diuretic

Besides being a fruit that is very high in water content, amla is also slightly diuretic in nature, as per an animal study published in the International Research Journal of Pharmacy. This means that it promotes urination. Urination helps our body eliminate unwanted toxins and excess levels of water, salt, and uric acid. Therefore, a diuretic substance is often beneficial for keeping your kidneys healthy and for preventing urinary and uterine infections.

Eye Care

Drinking gooseberry juice – which is rich in vitamin A – with a bit of honey, is good for improving eyesight. It helps improve nearsightedness and cataracts while reducing intraocular tension. This is mainly due to its impressive carotene content, which has long been known for its powerful effect on vision-related conditions, including those that stem from the free radical damage. Vitamin A and carotene improves vision, while also lowering the risk of macular degeneration and night blindness.

Treats Cough and Cold

Amla is a very rich source of vitamin C, which makes it a great treatment for colds and coughs, as per research published in the journal Biomolecules. It is one of the primary ingredients in Chyawanprash, which is an Ayurvedic health supplement consumed to increase immunity and overall health. It also possesses antibacterial, antiviral, and antiinflammatory properties, thereby making it effective against cold and fever.

Boosts Liver Health

Drinking amla juice, as per Ayurveda, boosts vitality and vigor, and the underlying reason for it is probably linked to its ability to re-energize the liver. Liver health is not paid much attention to, even though it affects a large part of the population. A 2013 study on the Hepatoprotective properties of the Indian gooseberry published in the journal Food & Function journal says the fruit is effective in preventing the toxic effects of excessive medication and toxic metals. The presence of phytochemicals such as quercetin, gallic acid, corilagin, and ellagic acid in amla helps in free radical scavenging and in turn, detoxifying the body.

In addition, amla extract is known to promote liver function as it normalizes the activity of alanine transaminase (ALT), which is a significant factor in liver diseases.

Anticancer Properties

Amla extract has been shown to have cytotoxic activity against cervical and ovarian cancer cells. Researchers from Montreal, Canada published a study that found Phyllanthus emblica extracts have strong tumor repressive properties against a number of cancer types. Other research in the European Journal of Cancer Prevention shows that the tiny fruit is packed with potent polyphenols, flavonoids, and tannins, making it a powerful tool against a variety of conditions, including cancer and diabetes.

Reduces Menstrual Discomfort

Traditionally, in India, amla is used to reduce menstrual discomfort and to reduce nausea during pregnancy, as per a book published on Indegenious Health Care and Ethno Medicine. It suggests that consuming amla on a regular basis allows its nutrients to stay in the system and may help reduce menstrual cramps.

Health benefits of amla infographic

Indian gooseberries are a natural immune booster as they contain a powerful cocktail of vitamins C and A.

Suppresses Appetite

As per research published in the Food journal, consuming gooseberry powder with other spices such as cayenne pepper, cumin seeds, and turmeric helps in better satiety between meals. It suppresses the hunger and also reduces the desire to eat immediately after. However, more research on this is still required.

How To Eat Amla Fruit?

You can consume Indian Gooseberry (amla) as fresh fruit, juice, or in a dried powder form to see a big improvement in your health.

  • Amla powder: Organic versions are available in the market and can be mixed with water, honey, or yogurt to be made into a hair or face mask.
  • Amla oil: This oil helps to strengthen the hair, prevents premature greying and stops hair fall. Learn to make amla oil at home here.
  • Amla juice: Taking amla juice diluted with water early in the morning on an empty stomach helps keep the digestive system healthy and aids in managing blood sugar levels. You can check out how to make amla juice here.
  • Fresh amla: These are available in season in Indian stores. You can eat amla slices raw with salt and spices, like in India or you can mix a teaspoon of honey. Honey balances the tart taste of amla.
  • Dried amla: Dried amla fruit can be chewed on, but be aware that they may have a lot of sugar added to it. In India, the candied pickle is called amla murabba.

Word of Caution

Amla or Indian gooseberry is safe to consume in most cases, however if you are using it for medicinal reasons, it is important to consult a medical for the same. Certain caution is also advised for pregnant or breastfeeding women, people with a bleeding disorder, or those dealing with diabetes as it may interfere with its medication. Consume it in safe quantities, which is not likely more than 1-2 Indian gooseberries in a day. Moderation always serves well.

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About the Author

Meenakshi Nagdeve, Co-Founder, Organic Facts is a health and wellness enthusiast and is responsible for managing it. She has completed the Nutrition And Healthy Living Cornell Certificate Program, Cornell University, US. She holds a Post Graduate Diploma in Management from IIM Bangalore and B. Tech in Metallurgical Engineering and Materials Science from IIT Bombay. Prior to this, she worked for a few years in IT and Financial services. An ardent follower of naturopathy, she believes in healing with foods. In her free time, she loves to travel and taste different types of teas.

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