While surfing the net trying to uncover the myths surrounding so-called superfoods, also widely marketed as internet-hyped ‘miracle foods’–from açaí berry, sumac, quinoa to cocoa and Ceylon cinnamon, which they claim can make you “live longer and cure and prevent all kinds of diseases”, I stumbled upon the name of a commonly known wild berry found in Nepal that contains twice the antioxidants of açaí berry.
It took me by complete surprise to know that this ‘wonder fruit’ is none other than the humble light-greenish wild fruit or berry called Indian gooseberry or amala in Nepali (amalaki in Sanskrit) found in abundance in Nepal.
Indian gooseberry or amala (binominal name: Emblica officinalis or Phyllanthus emblica) is native to Nepal, India, Sri Lanka and throughout South-East Asia to southern China. Thriving in subtropical regions, the sun-loving deciduous wild trees can be found in the inner Terai and the mid hills of Nepal up to an elevation of 2000 ft from the sea level. Formerly collected from the wild, commercial farming of amala has been started in recent years.
This bitter-sourly translucent fruit is, in fact, a household name in Nepal. It is eaten fresh, in the form of dried powder dietary supplement, pickles, a digestive pachak or the salivating sweet-tangy-spicy candy called titaura or paun in Newari, loved by many girls! It is a seedy fruit, the pips are widely eaten in India for their high content of Vitamin C.
The goodness and natural healing properties of amala have been passed down to us from generations from the days of yore. I still remember my grandma passing them around to us when we were young, explaining to us about their therapeutic properties.
Arguably one of the most significant ingredients used in the traditional Indian medical science, Ayurveda, for millennia, it enjoys a hallowed position and is revered as a powerful ‘rasayana’ (elixir). Amala happens to be one of the vital ingredients in making of Chyawanprash, an ayurvedic tonic jam. Amala is used in ayurvedic medicine as a diuretic, for constipation relief, insomnia, the treatment of scalp, as well as other purposes.
Gooseberries are a potent source of nutrients, vitamins and minerals such as Vitamin C, Vitamin B50/B6, dietary fibre, anti-oxidants, bio-flavonoids, flavones, caretenoids, carbohydrates, copper, manganese, phosphorus, iron, and the list seems endless. To say the least, it is both hypolipidemic and hypoglycemic.
Nutritional value of amala:
The nutritional value of 100 g of edible amala is: