Amla, also known as Indian gooseberries, tops the charts for antioxidant content compared to other foods — and not just by a little, but A LOT!
Let me put it into perspective for you. This study measured the antioxidant content of over 3,100 foods, beverages, herbs, and spices used throughout the world. They found that meat and meat products had a mean antioxidant content of 0.31 mmol/100g, but this value does not include poultry or fish. Poultry scored a 0.23 mmol/100g and fish scored a measly 0.11 mmol/g. All in all, animal products had a mean antioxidant content of 0.18 mmol/100g. So what, right?
Those values will feel particularly small when you compare it to the mean antioxidant content of the plant foods measured in the study which came out to be 11.57 mmol/100g! That reflects about a 64 fold increase in the mean antioxidant quantity of plant foods over animal based foods.
So now you are probably thinking, where does Amla fall into this picture. The researchers measured antioxidant content in Amla powder to be 261.5 mmol/100g!! That is astounding! For comparison, strawberries only measured 2.1 mmol/100g and curly kale at 2.3 mmol/100g (Carlsen, et al., 2010). Don’t get me wrong, that is still quite a lot compared to the animal products measured in the study (about 10x as much), and I am certainly not suggesting that anyone should stop eating strawberries, but let’s start talking about how amazing this little Indian gooseberry is!
So why should you care about the antioxidant richness of your food? Antioxidants are important for cleaning up free radical damage in our bodies. Without them, our bodies may face chronic free radical damage, which in turn can make us more susceptible to diseases like cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and others. Other antioxidants, like vitamin C, play an important role in collagen formation, and thus play an essential role in maintaining our tissues, joints, and skin. Interestingly, the benefits we get from eating antioxidant rich foods, like amla powder, are not seen as strongly when we consume them in supplement form. Therefore, it is important that we eat antioxidants in the way nature intended us to, packaged in whole, plant foods.
Amla is high in all sorts of antioxidants, like vitamin C and polyphenols (especially tannins and flavonoids), which provide some serious in vitro anti-cancer properties that suppress cancer cell progression and prevent its growth in the first place. Amla has also been shown in human studies to improve post-postprandial glucose levels (blood sugar levels after a meal), total cholesterol, and triglycerides significantly in participants with and without Type 2 Diabetes. They weren’t eating excessive amounts of the fruit either, just a couple of grams of dried amla a day. The cholesterol reducing effects of Amla are so impressive in fact, that when tested head-to-head against a leading cholesterol lowering drug, the amla worked just as well, and without the drug related side-effects. The authors conclude, ” Addition of Amla to the currently available hypolipidemic therapy would offer significant protection against atherosclerosis and coronary artery disease, with reduction in the dose and adverse effects of the hypolipidemic agents” (Gopa, et al., 2012). That is quite a big claim to make about such a little, and inexpensive berry!
This is the amla powder I have been using and loving right now. I am not sponsored by them, but I think that they make a great product and I want to share that information with you. Ever since I have started consuming just 1 tsp of amla powder a day, I have noticed that hair and nails grow thicker and faster. It has really helped my skin stay smooth, too. I like to mix it into my morning oatmeal or smoothie, and I cannot even taste that it is there.
Disclaimer: I am a naturopathic medical student, not a licensed physician. The opinions expressed are my own, and do not reflect the opinions of the entire naturopathic doctor community. Nothing on my blog is intended to be taken as medical advice. Always consult a licensed physician before making any lifestyle or dietary changes.