Dr. Raphael NyarkoteyObu, RND, PhD (A.M), LLB Law/MBA
Studies have shown that these potent fruits can do everything from reduce cholesterol levels to block cancer growth. With more and more research demonstrating just how powerful this tiny fruit may be, it’s safe to say that incorporating it into your diet just a few times per week can bring big benefits to your health.
What are Golden Berries?
Golden berries, scientifically known as Physalisperuviana , are small orange to yellowish berries, originated from South America. Oddly enough, goldenberries are more closely related to tomatoes and eggplants than other berries and are approximately the size of a marble. In terms of taste, these berries are sweet, somewhat like a pineapple and a mango.
Because of their extensive exportation throughout places like South Africa and Europe golden berries have various names, including but not limited to Cape Gooseberry, Aztec berry, poha, harankash, and Physalis, among a dozen or more other common names.
Gooseberries are low in calories but high in fiber, vitamin E and vitamin C. They can also help you meet your daily needs for micronutrients like manganese, vitamin A and potassium.
A hundred grams of raw gooseberries contains about (26, 27)
10.2 grams carbohydrates
0.9 gram protein
0.6 gram fat
4.3 grams fiber
27.7 milligrams vitamin C (46 percent DV)
0.1 milligram manganese (7 percent DV)
290 IU vitamin A (6 percent DV)
198 milligrams potassium (6 percent DV)
0.1 milligram vitamin B6 (4 percent DV)
0.1 milligram copper (4 percent DV)
Promotes Liver Health
Reduces Cholesterol Levels
Has Anti-Cancer Properties
Controls Blood Sugar
Keeps Hair and Skin Healthy
Enhances Digestive Health
Supports Cognitive Function
Health Benefits of Golden berries
Goldenberries have many benefits for health. So, let’s take a closer look at some of them in detail.
A study conducted by Poltanov et al 2009 reaveled that gooseberries are high in phytochemicals, plant compounds with antioxidant properties that help fight off harmful free radicals in the body.
Lien et al 2008 study conducted revealed that free radicals cause oxidative damage to cells and even contribute to the development of chronic disease.
The Indian gooseberry is high in phytochemicals like furosin, gallic acid, corilagin and quercetin, which are largely responsible for the health-promoting properties of gooseberries
Goldenberries contain bioactive compounds such as withanolides and phenolics. Rarely mentioned in dietary discussions, withanolides are compounds that are isolated from the plant Ashwagandha, a medicinal herb. These compounds are known to have anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer effects.
Similar to ginseng, withanolides serve as powerful antioxidants that can induce apoptosis or automatic cell death. They can also slow down or even reverse the spread of cancerous cells throughout the body, according to a research paper published in the Cancer Letters Journal by a team of Taiwanese researchers. A 2010 study published in BMC Cancer found chemotherapeutic agents that could be used against lung cancer displayed when withanolides were isolated from goldenberry in its pure form 4b-hydroxywithanolide.
One of the most significant health breakthrough of the gooseberry is its effect on cancer cells and ability to potentially prevent cancer according to a research by Zhao et al 2015.
A previous 2005 animal study by Sancheti et al conducted at the University of Rajasthan in India showed that treating mice with a concentrated dose of gooseberry extract decreased skin cancer tumor formation by 60 percent.
Another test-tube study conducted by Ngamkitidechakul et al 2010 from Thailand showed that gooseberry helped inhibit the growth of human lung, liver, breast, ovarian, cervical and colorectal cancer cells.
Moreover, gooseberries are also high in phytochemicals and antioxidants. These compounds help neutralize harmful free radicals and may be linked to a decreased risk of cancer in one study conducted by Nishino et al 2004
According to Dr. GökçenY?ld?z, Nazmi?zli et al’s report published in the Journal of Food Science Technology, the most important benefits of golden berries are derived from their high antioxidant content, which makes them an ideal nutritional supplement for all kinds of ailments. Like carotenoids and polyphenolic compounds, antioxidants found in goldenberries can neutralize free radicals, the damaging by-products of cellular metabolism that can cause healthy cells to mutate into cancerous ones. This is the quality that qualifies golden berries as a “superfood”. Research has shown that polyphenols can stop the spread of various types of cancers, making it a very important food source in many parts of the world.
Golden berries are rich in antioxidants that help in reducing inflammation. If you suffer from arthritis, gout, muscle aches, chronic pain, or even hemorrhoids, anti-inflammatory compounds in the berries can soothe these conditions and improve overall health. Goldenberries improve heart health by lowering inflammation of the arteries and blood vessels and preventing the development of atherosclerosis and coronary heart diseases. This effectively lowers blood pressure as well, which further decreases the symptoms of hypertension and gives relief to your heart.
As a low-calorie food (only 53 calories per 100 grams), golden berries are an interesting option for people trying to lose weight. These tiny fruits deliver a large percentage of your daily nutrients, yet do not contribute any negative fats or calories to your overall intake, helping to keep your weight loss goals on track!
Although many people think of fats as a negative component, in reality, humans need a variety of essential fatty acids for the proper functioning of many processes in the body. For example, the oleic and linoleic acid in golden berries lower the amount of LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) in our body and re-establish the cholesterol balance to ensure a healthy heart.
In addition to supporting the health of your liver, some studies have found that gooseberry benefits the health of the heart as well. Research shows that gooseberry could help reduce cholesterol levels in the blood, preventing the buildup of plaque and decreasing the risk of coronary heart disease.
A study in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition supplemented men 35–55 years old with Indian gooseberry for 28 days and found that they had significant decreases in cholesterol levels. Interestingly enough, two weeks after stopping supplementation, their cholesterol levels had risen back up to normal according to a study by Jacob et al 1988.
Another study conducted by Gopa et al 2012 published in the Indian Journal of Pharmacology found that treating patients with gooseberry decreased levels of triglycerides and bad LDL cholesterol, increased levels of beneficial HDL cholesterol, and reduced blood pressure.
Some of the compounds found in golden berries can slow the breakdown and intake of simple sugars from carbohydrates. This means that the body and bloodstream are not flooded with sugar, and insulin receptors are properly regulated. Drastic blood sugar fluctuations are the main cause of diabetes and can be very dangerous for people suffering from this condition, meaning that golden berries are an effective preventive method and a treatment for Type II diabetes, as per a report published in the Diabetes Foundation.
Studies show that gooseberries may be able to maintain normal blood sugar levels due to their high fiber and antioxidant content. Fiber slows the absorption of sugar in the bloodstream and can help prevent spikes and crashes in blood sugar levels. Gooseberries have also been shown to prevent high blood sugar and reduce the risk of diabetes complications like kidney damage or nerve damage as a result of uncontrolled blood sugar levels. The study was conducted by D'souza et al 2014
Improve Liver & Kidney Health
Although the exact pathway for this benefit isn’t completely understood, one of the withanolides found in golden berries has been associated with a reduction in liver scarring and a reversal of liver degradation. Furthermore, golden berries are linked to optimal kidney health as they help to eliminate toxins by stimulating urination and flushing out excess fats, salts, and toxins from the lymphatic system.
The liver is one of the most important organs in the body. It aids in detoxification, secretes bile to help digest fats and produces important proteins that play a role in many aspects of health.
Some studies have found that gooseberries could help enhance liver function and protect the health of this crucial organ. An animal study in 2013 conducted by Snehal et al found that treating diabetic rats with gooseberry extract increased antioxidant levels in the liver.
Another review conducted by Thilakchand et al 2013 found that amla, or gooseberry, has been shown to protect the liver against toxicity and even cancer in some animal studies.
Due to the high carotenoid content found in golden berries, they are often recommended for boosting the health of your eyes. Carotenoids eliminate oxidative stress on the ocular system, preventing the development of cataracts and slowing the onset of macular degeneration, keeping your vision in top working order as you age.
The significant level of vitamin C (almost 15% of the daily recommended intake) in a single serving of golden berries makes them a very important fruit for the immune system. Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) stimulates the production of white blood cells and also has certain antioxidant properties. Furthermore, it is a key component in the production of collagen, which helps in repairing and producing cells, tissues, organs, and blood vessels.
Gooseberries have a natural laxative effect and can help encourage regular bowel movements and prevent constipation. This is because they are high in fiber, which moves slowly through the gastrointestinal tract undigested, adding bulk to stool and easing its passage. Jing et al 2012 study shows that increasing fiber intake from foods like gooseberry can help increase stool frequency. Other natural constipation relief remedies include staying well-hydrated, minimizing your intake of highly processed foods, and eating plenty of fruits, vegetables, legumes, seeds and nuts.
According to Philip Hunter 2012 reports inflammation can be beneficial and is a normal immune response to injury, however, chronic inflammation is at the root of most diseases and has been linked to conditions like cancer, heart disease and diabetes.
Research has found that Indian gooseberry can help reduce inflammation. A follow up test-tube study by Rao et al 2013 published in the British Journal of Nutrition showed that amla extract decreased the levels of pro-inflammatory markers in human cells.
Grimble RF1994 study found that the antioxidants in amla may also help reduce inflammation by neutralizing free radicals and preventing oxidative damage to cells.
Keeps Hair and Skin Healthy
Interestingly, some of the products on the market use for hair and skin may already contain Indian gooseberry. For centuries, gooseberries have been used to improve the health of skin and hair, and now several recent studies have confirmed these powerful benefits.
One study conducted by Fujii et al 2008 out of Japan, for instance, found that amla extract helped increased production of collagen, the protein that is responsible for providing youthfulness and elasticity to the skin.
Another animal study by Sumitra et al 2009 out of the Gill Heart Institute’s Division of Cardiovascular Medicine at the University of Kentucky found that Indian gooseberry extract helped speed up wound healing in rats.
In terms of hair health, one animal study by Akhtar MS and Jabbar MA 1981 found that applying amla oil to rabbit fur significantly increased growth. Moreover, gooseberry is high in vitamin E, a nutrient that has been shown to protect the skin and enhance hair growth in one study by Mohammad Abid Keen and Iffat Hassan 2016 and another study by Lim et al 2010.
Support Digestive Health
Some studies have shown that gooseberries contain gastroprotective effects and may help keep the digestive system working efficiently while preventing problems like gastric ulcers.
An animal study conducted by Al-Rehaily AJ 2012 in Phytomedicine reported that giving ratsamla extract blocked the development of stomach lesions, decreased gastric secretions and protected against injury to the lining of the stomach. Another animal study conducted by Sairam 2002 had similar findings and noted that giving rats amla extract helped heal and protect against stomach ulcers.
Gooseberry is also high in fiber, which can promote regularity and get things moving to prevent issues like constipation.
Supports Cognitive Function
Research has unearthed some surprising findings when it comes to the effects of Indian gooseberry on brain function.
A 2016 study by Uddin et al, for instance, found that treating rats with gooseberry extract increased memory retention and antioxidant levels and also decreased levels of acetylcholinesterase, an enzyme associated with Alzheimer’s disease.
Another study conducted by Harshad et al 2014 combined gooseberry with heart-leaved moonseed and found that it improved measures of learning and memory in rats.
The Indian gooseberry tree is said to have significant value in Hindu culture. In fact, it is considered sacred because Vishnu, one of the main deities of Hinduism, is believed to reside in the tree.
Amalaka Ekadashi is a Hindu holiday celebrating and worshipping the gooseberry tree and is considered one of the main celebrations of Holi, the Hindu festival of colors.
In Hinduism, amla is also believed to come from drops of immortality that were accidentally spilled onto the earth during a fight between gods and demons. Supposedly, this accounts for the medicinal properties of the Indian gooseberry as well as its purported ability to extend life and cure disease.
The Indian gooseberry tree is also a part of the Buddhist religion as well. It is believed to have been used to achieve enlightenment by Phussa Buddha, the first Buddha of antiquity.
Indian gooseberry has also been used in Ayurvedic medicine and is said to enhance longevity, reduce constipation, improve digestion, treat asthma, increase hair growth and promote heart health.
Today, it is a common ingredient in many Asian cuisines and is also used in inks, shampoos and hair products thanks to its high tannin content.
Gooseberries vs. Grapes
Gooseberries are often compared to green grapes thanks to their similarities in taste and appearance. Both green grapes and gooseberries are round and green with seeds inside and a slightly sour taste.
However, both belong to different families of plants and offer an entirely different set of nutrients. Grapes, for example, are higher in calories and vitamin K but lower in vitamin C and vitamin E. Additionally, they offer only about 18 percent the amount of fiber as gooseberries per 100 grams.
Still, both contain important vitamins, minerals and antioxidants and can be excellent additions to a nutritious and balanced diet.
Eating Golden Berries?
Golden berry is naturally sweet and tart, which makes it a popular ingredient in various cakes, sweets, and baked goods, as well as salads and fruit salads. Other simple ways to enjoy it are listed below.
The berries can also be eaten by themselves, fresh or dried, as a healthy snack
You can add goldenberry to your salads for a flavorful boost
Blend the berries in your morning smoothie for natural sweetness
You can top your yogurtwith fresh or dried golden berries
Dip the berries into the chocolatesauce for a dessert
Word of Caution: Potential users must avoid eating unripe golden berries as that can be poisonous. Also picking wild berries is not recommended. If you suffer from an allergy to other berries, be sure to speak with your doctor before consuming them. As golden berries are more closely related to nightshade plants than cherries or other berries, the allergenic potential is much the same.
DISCLAIMER : This post is for enlightenment purposes only and should not be used as a replacement for professional diagnosis and treatments. Remember to always consult your healthcare provider before making any health-related decisions or for counselling, guidance and treatment about a specific medical condition
Raphael NyarkoteyObu, PhD, Is an honorary Professor of Naturopathic Medicine with research interest in Naturopathic & Holistic Urology, Vinnytsia State Pedagogical University, Ukraine. President of Nyarkotey College of Holistic Medicine- Formulator of FDA approved Men’s Formula for Prostate Health, Women’s Formula for wellness &Nyarkotey Tea for cardiovascular Health. 0241083423 or 0541234556. The author also is currently pursing LLB Law/MBA concurrently