Superfood Spotlight: Amla Powder

Amla, The Mighty Antioxidant

There isn't really a scientific definition for superfood, but generally when people hear that term things like Moringa powder, gogi berries and raw cacao powder come to mind. The newest superfood becomes a craze like the latest fad diet. I generally don't push 'Superfoods' on patients or clients because the health claims may be exaggerated, regular consumption often isn't necessary to maintain health, they are costly and, perhaps most importantly, because there are many affordable foods around us everyday that are the real superfoods (I'm talking fruits and veggies you can find in any produce department).  

Recently though, I've made an exception to my own rule and started enthusiastically recommending Amla Powder.  Never heard of it? Neither had I until about a year ago. Amla is powdered dried Indian Gooseberry fruit which has been used for centuries in Ayurvedic medicine and now there are lots of evidence-based Western medical studies supporting its use. 

 Indian Gooseberry

Indian Gooseberry

Amla is the richest antioxidant source in the world (200x the amount in 1 serving of blueberries). What is an antioxidant you ask?  Well, antioxidants protect cells against damage from oxidative stress and free radicals, which if left unchecked contribute to aging (internal and external), cancer, cardiovascular disease and a host of other chronic diseases.  Sooooo, as a preventative and anti-aging measure, it's important for us to pack our day with antioxidant-rich foods like Amla, blueberries and leafy greens.

If that alone isn't enough to convince you to start downing Amla on the reg, in vitro studies (which are studies done in a controlled laboratory rather than in a living organism) show the ability of Amla to block cancer cell growth and cancer cell invasion.  Clinical research has also shown that Amla works just as well as the leading drug for Type 2 Diabetes (Int J Food Sci Nutr. 62(6): 609-16)- without any of the untoward side effects. But wait, there's more!  These Western Gooseberries have also been found to lower cholesterol (just as well as simvastatin/Zocor and atorvastatin/Lipitor), suppress diarrhea and prevent and improve cough, fever, pain and stress.  #multipurpose. 

You can find whole gooseberries in the freezer section or the powdered variety in the aisles at Indian grocery stores.  I buy the Terrasoul powder shown above on Amazon.  The taste of Amla is downright disgusting, so I either disguise my daily dose (1/4 teaspoon) in a smoothie or make my own capsule.

 My Amla and Turmeric capsules: I take one-a-day of each

My Amla and Turmeric capsules: I take one-a-day of each

You can purchase a big bag of empty capsules on Amazon.  I suggest the DIY approach over buying Amla capsules or oil as these are sometimes contaminated (no studies to date have found contaminated powders). Go Amload yourself with antioxidants.