As much as you might hate amla, it is one of the most nutritiously dense berries. When they are available dime a dozen, why not take advantage of the many health benefits they provide? The foremost is their exceptionally high vitamin C content.
With around 600-700 milligrams of vitamin C per 100 grams, amla is one of the richest natural sources of this vitamin, according to Chandni Haldurai, head of nutrition at the Bengaluru-based fitness brand Cure.fit.
Amla also contains various antioxidants, including polyphenols, flavonoids and tannins, which can help protect cells from oxidative damage.
Let us take a look at the nutrition profile and health benefits of amla and if there are any precautions we must take.
Nutritional profile of amla
The nutritional profile of 100 grams of raw amla is as follows:
Calories: 44 kcal
Carbohydrates: 10.18 grams
Dietary Fibre: 4.3 grams
Sugars: 4.4 grams
Protein: 0.88 grams
Fat: 0.58 grams
Vitamin C: 600-700 milligrams per 100 grams
Vitamin B-complex (including B1, B2, B3, and B5)
Health benefits of amla
Haldurai explains the health benefits of amla.
Immunity: Amla is renowned for its high vitamin C content that supports immune function by protecting cells from oxidative stress. Amla’s vitamin C helps enhance immune cell function, potentially preventing infections and reducing the duration of illnesses like the common cold. It also has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties that can further boost immunity.
Diabetes Control: Amla contains soluble fibre that slows down the absorption of sugar in the body, helping to stabilise blood sugar levels and prevent spikes. Additionally, amla may have a positive effect on blood glucose and lipid profiles, making it beneficial for individuals with type 2 diabetes.
Digestive Health: The fibre in amla supports healthy digestion by regulating bowel movements and relieving symptoms associated with conditions like irritable bowel syndrome. Furthermore, the high vitamin C content aids in the absorption of other nutrients, making it useful for individuals taking mineral supplements.
Eye Health: Amla is rich in vitamin A, which is essential for improving and maintaining eye health. Vitamin A can enhance vision and reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration. Additionally, vitamin C in amla helps protect the eyes from bacterial infections, such as conjunctivitis.
Memory and Brain Health: Amla contains phytonutrients and antioxidants that support cognitive function by combating free radicals that can damage brain cells. Its high concentration of vitamin C helps the body produce norepinephrine, a neurotransmitter associated with improved brain function, which may be beneficial for individuals with dementia.
Liver Health: While more research is needed in humans, some animal studies suggest that amla juice can enhance liver function. Amla’s antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties may contribute to improved liver health by preventing fatty liver disease caused by factors like a high-fructose or high-fat diet. It may also support metabolism and reduce liver damage.
However, while amla offers these potential health benefits, individual responses may vary and it would be advisable to consult a nutritionist or a doctor before making drastic diet changes.
Can diabetics consume amla?
Amla is a low-glycaemic fruit that can help control blood sugar levels by slowing down sugar absorption, potentially improving insulin sensitivity and positively affecting lipid profiles, says Haldurai.
“It is also rich in antioxidants and has anti-inflammatory properties, which can be advantageous for individuals with diabetes, as the condition is linked to oxidative stress and inflammation.”
However, it is important for diabetics to monitor their blood sugar levels and consult a healthcare professional for personalised dietary recommendations and portion control.
Is it beneficial for pregnant women?
Haldurai notes that amla can be beneficial for pregnant women as it is a rich source of vitamin C, which is essential for the development of the baby’s immune system, bones, and teeth, and aids in iron absorption.
“Amla’s antioxidants can help protect against oxidative stress, and its fibre content may alleviate common pregnancy digestive issues. However, moderation is key, as excessive vitamin C intake can lead to gastrointestinal discomfort,” she points out.
Things to keep in mind
According to Haldurai, there are some things to keep in mind before eating amla.
Allergies: When consuming amla, it is crucial to be mindful of potential allergies, as some individuals may be allergic to it, and allergic reactions can range from mild skin irritations to severe responses.
Sugar intake: Amla contains natural sugars, which are typically not a concern for most people, but those monitoring sugar intake should be aware.
Digestive discomfort: Overconsumption of amla can lead to gastrointestinal discomfort, particularly due to its high vitamin C content, causing diarrhoea or acid reflux in some cases. It is essential to practice moderation.
Any individual on a specific medication should consult a doctor before incorporating the fruit into their diet, she adds.
Myths and facts
Haldurai debunks some of the common myths surrounding amla.
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Myth 1: Amla can cure diabetes.
Fact: While amla can be a helpful addition to a diabetic’s diet, it cannot cure diabetes.
Myth 2: Amla can prevent or cure cancer.
Fact: While amla’s antioxidant properties may play a role in reducing the risk of certain diseases, including cancer, it is essential to clarify that amla cannot prevent or cure cancer on its own.
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