What is Amla?
Also known as the Indian Gooseberry or Amalaki (in Sanskrit), the amlaberry is considered one of the most potent sources of antioxidants and anti-aging benefits in Ayurveda: traditional East Indian medicine. In fact, in India this superfood berry – called a Rasayana, for promoting immunity and strength – is considered sacred.
What’s so divine about these plump round berries, which have skin resembling a cross between a grape and a watermelon? Amla berries are said to have many health benefits, and could create balance in all three Ayurveda doshas. The doshas (Pitta, Vata and Kapha) are sources of physiological energy categorized in 3 basic body/personality types which, when out of balance, can cause health issues according to Ayurveda medicine. To have one food source with so many healing properties (across all doshas) makes the amla berry a very revered fruit.
Five Out of Six Tastes
A unique quality of the amla berry is its complex taste, which is another reason Ayurveda gives Amalaki such importance. The amla berry is known to offer five out of six existing tastes – sweet, sour, bitter, pungent and astringent – all in the same bite. Each taste (salty being the only one missing here) is said to help create healthy balance in the body and mind across the doshas.
Health Benefits of Amalaki
The antioxidant-rich amla berry is said to work slowly and subtly to bring the body back in balance, so consuming it as fresh fruit, dried or cooked fruit, powder mix or other supplement form cannot be considered a quick fix. However, adding amla berries in your diet consistently in the right amount for your body might help with digestion, detoxify the liver, and rid your body of free radicals and lower cholesterol levels, too. Amla berries are extremely high vitamin C for such a small fruit – about 20 times more vitamin C than you get from an orange.
Amla berry extracts are often added to hair and skin care products, as Amalaki is considered beneficial to hair follicle and skin cell health by pulling out toxics and repairing damage for a more youthful look.
Sacred Amla Tree & Festival
Not only is the amla berry considered divine, but the tree it grows from is actually worshipped in an annual India festival called Amala Ekadashi. This spiritual festival pays homage to Radha Krishna, the combined feminine and masculine energies of Hinduism.
How to Eat Amla Berries
Eat this grape-like superfood berry fresh as a snack or part of a fruit salad. Find a great Indian grocer locally or online that offers fresh amla berry juice without additives or artificial sweeteners. Amla berry chutney (typically spicy) is available in many Indian grocery markets and can be served with cooked vegetables and rice. Whole food amla berry powder can be added to water as a drink mix supplement, especially after a meal to aid in digestion.
Whichever way you decide to try bringing amla berries into your diet, check with your doctor first before deciding if this sacred superfood fruit is right for you and your nutritional needs.