Gooseberry (Ribes spp.) scientifically known as Phyllanthus emblica is a small spiny bush in the family Rosaceae which is grown for its edible fruit of the same name. It is also known as “fayberries” because of the ancient belief that fairies used bushes of gooseberry to hide from danger. The plant is native to Nepal, India and Sri Lanka, throughout South-East Asia to southern China. Apart from gooseberry it is also known as Amla, Emblic, Indian Gooseberry, Malacca Tree and Myrobalan. The bush begins fruiting 2-3 years after plantation. One gooseberry bush produces 8 to 10 pounds of fruit per season. Gooseberry can produce fruit and survive at least 20 years in the wild. Fredonia, Pixwell, Downing and Poorman are few of the popular varieties of Gooseberry.
Gooseberry Quick Facts
Name : Gooseberry
Scientific Name: phyllanthus emblica
Origin : Nepal, India and Sri Lanka, throughout South-East Asia to southern China.
Colors : Pale green changing to yellow when mature
Shapes : Depressed globose drupe 2–4 cm in diameter, with six vertical striations
Taste : Sweet, slightly tart taste
Calories : 66 Kcal./cup
Major nutrients : Vitamin C (46.22%)
Total dietary Fiber (16.84%)
Health benefits : Cancer, Improving Appetite, Diarrhea and Dysentery, Infection, Brain health,Heart Disease, Digestion, Diuretic Activity, Diabetes, Menstrual Cramps, Metabolic Activity, Aging, Calcium Absorption, Eye Care, Hair care
Gooseberry is a fast growing, small to medium-sized, low, deciduous tree, 5–25 m tall; trunk often crooked and gnarled, up to 35 cm in diameter; bark thin, smooth, grey, peeling in patches, with numerous knobs, main branches angular and densely pubescent. The plant has sharp thorns all along its woody branches. It is normally found growing in tropical and subtropical regions from near sea-level. It grows equally well in arid and wet or humid conditions. It is light demanding plant, common in grassy areas, brush and village groves. The plant is not fastidious of soil type and grows on a wide range of soil types ranging from sandy loam to clay, light or heavy, and slightly acidic to slightly alkaline. It flourishes in deep, fertile soil. It is moderately drought resistant but some cultivars may be sensitive to drought and frost. It is fire-resistant and is one of the first trees to recover after a fire. Branchlets are glabrous or finely pubescent, 10–20 cm long, usually deciduous.
The buds perk up early in the spring, dotting the stems with green when most other plants are still tawny. Leaves are alternate, single, deeply lobed, and glossy dark green (European types), or pale to gray-green and sometimes finely pubescent (American types). The stems are thin, becoming woody, with a large thorn at each axil. American gooseberry stems are densely bristly, with one or more additional thorns at each axil. Leaf size and number are reduced under heat or light stress, and are easily burned by intense sunlight. Plants that have been subject to drought may make a new growth flush after deep irrigation. If the roots are lost, regrowth will wait until the following spring.
Flowers are greenish-yellow, fascicled in axils of leaves or fallen leaves, unisexual. The male flowers are numerous at base of young twigs, the female flowers solitary and higher up the twig. Male flowers are shortly pedicellate, with six pale green perianth lobes 1.5–2.5 mm long and three entirely connate stamens, six disk glands alternating with the perianth lobes; female flowers sessile, with six somewhat larger perianth lobes, a cup-like six-angular disk, and a superior three celled, glabrous ovary crowned by three styles, connate for more than half of their length and deeply bifid at apex. The flowers are self-fertile and pollinated by wind and insects, including bees. Each flower bud opens to yield from one to four flowers, depending on cultivar.
Fruit, borne singly or in pairs at the axils, is a berry with many minute seeds at the center. A gooseberry is depressed globose drupe 2–4 cm in diameter; with six vertical striations. The color of the berries is usually green, but there are red (to purple), yellow, and white variants. (Ribes hirtellum fruit can be green or dark purple to black. Fruits of the European gooseberry may be very large, like a small plum, but are usually 1 inch long, less in width. American gooseberry fruits are smaller (to 1/2 inch), perfectly round, all becoming pink to wine-red at maturity. In general, the berries weigh about 4 g to 10 g. The fruit skin is thin, translucent and adherent to the very crisp, juicy, concolorous flesh. Inside, a berry may hold 15-30 tiny edible seeds. Skin color is most intense in full sunlight. Berries generally drop when overripe. The fruit has a flavor all its own, the best dessert cultivars as luscious as the best apple, strawberry or grape.
Phyllanthus emblica commonly known as gooseberry is considered to have originated in Nepal, India and Sri Lanka, throughout South-East Asia to southern China. It is widely cultivated for its fruits throughout its natural area of distribution, particularly in India, and also in the Mascarene Islands (Réunion, Mauritius), the West Indies (Cuba, Trinidad), Central America (Honduras, Costa Rica), and the West Indies and Japan. Formerly it was cultivated in Madagascar. It is commonly cultivated in home gardens in India, Malaysia, Singapore and southern China. Nowadays because of its wonderful taste and health promoting benefits it is grown throughout the world.
Apart from their sweet, slightly tart taste, gooseberry is a good source of nutrients, vitamins and minerals. Consuming 150 gram of gooseberry offers 41.6 mg of Vitamin C, 6.4 g of Total dietary Fiber, 15.27 g of Carbohydrate, 0.105 mg of Copper, 0.216 mg of Manganese, 0.12 mg of Vitamin B6, 0.429 mg of Vitamin B5, 297 mg of Potassium, 0.46 mg of Iron and 40 mg of Phosphorus.
Health benefits of Gooseberry
The gooseberry features a higher nutrient content and is also obtainable in white-colored, green, or even red types. One fourth of the everyday requisite of vitamin C is available in the average offering of gooseberries. Gooseberries usually have an acidic sour taste to them, yet recently, new versions have been discovered to become fairly sweet. These types of berries are generally utilized whilst producing jams, jellies as well as puddings.
Gooseberries are not typically the most popular of fruits, and lots of individuals don’t have any idea exactly what a gooseberry is, however this unusual, somewhat sour fruit has numerous health advantages. From assisting in avoiding ageing to maintaining the body powerful from problems, this particular remarkable gooseberry has numerous healthy and balanced advantages!
Some of the reasons to eat Gooseberry are listed below-
1. Eye Care
Regular consumption of Gooseberry juice along with honey is quite beneficial for improving eyesight, and research has shown it to improve nearsightedness and cataracts, while decreasing intra-ocular tension. This is mainly due to its remarkable content of carotene, which has long been known for their powerful effect on vision-related disorders, including those that stem from free radical activity. Vitamin A and carotenes reduce macular degeneration, night blindness, and strengthen your vision before the age-related degeneration from free radicals can occur
Just like most of the fruits, gooseberry is very high in fiber. Fiber helps to add bulk to the stool and helps food move through the bowels and keeps bowel movements regular. This reduces the chances of constipation, and fiber bulk up loose stools and decrease diarrhea. Fiber also encourages the secretion of gastric and digestive juices, hence food is digested efficiently, nutrients are absorbed in an optimal way, and you feel lighter and healthier.
Reducing constipation can also help protect your from several gastrointestinal disorders, even colorectal cancer!
Gooseberry consists of chromium, which has a therapeutic value for diabetic patients. Indian Gooseberry encourages the isolated group of cells that secrete the hormone insulin, thus decreasing blood sugar in diabetic patients and keeping their body balanced as well as healthy. When blood sugar is reduced, it means that glucose is also being used by the cells as functional energy, thus the metabolism is stronger and you have more energy, without the plunges and spikes in blood sugar that are so dangerous for diabetic patients. Chromium also improves the effect of beta blockers, which are used for heart health, by decreasing the LDL cholesterol content of the body.
4. Calcium Absorption
Gooseberry helps the body absorb calcium in a positive way. Calcium is a crucial component of our bones, teeth, and nails, and also ensures that we have attractive lustrous hair. Thus, regular consumption of vitamin C-rich fruit like Indian gooseberries is a wonderful way to keep the body looking and feeling great!
Gooseberry is a rich source of antioxidants which is effective to prevent DNA cell damage from free radicals. Similarly due to its high Oxidative Radiance Activity Capacity (ORAC) it protects cell damage from oxidative stress. The Best part of Gooseberry is that it doesn’t lose it nutrients value even in powered form. During research it was found that Gooseberry has tremendous effect on multiple cancers.
First, it slows down the growth of cancer. Later it starts killing the cancer cells. After complete slow down, it also starts to kill the cancer cells. Also, the major part is that it didn’t harm any healthy cells. It shows beneficial in preventing and protecting from cancer. It is effective to prevent growth and spread of cancer cell. It is effective to prevent tumor cell growth.
6. Menstrual Cramps
Gooseberry consists of huge variety of minerals and vitamins which is quite useful in the treatment of menstrual cramps. Since it takes a while for the necessary elements to accumulate in the body, it is better to consume gooseberry on a regular basis so it is always in the system and menstrual cramps can be prevented every month for women.
7. Brain health
Gooseberry consists of huge amount of vitamin and minerals that helps to improve brain health. Due to the high iron in the blood, it offers oxygen to the brain. Also, it improves memory.
Apart from that it contains a high amount of antioxidants; it is effective to prevent degeneration of brain caused due to oxygen free radicals. Therefore, it provides complete health benefits to the brain.
Additionally Gooseberry is effective to protect from Alzheimer’s disease but not to cure it.
Aging is common with the increase in age. But the process of aging is totally changed. Skin starts to show sign of aging at an early age.
These early signs of aging are due to unhealthy diet, pollution, stress and much more.
Gooseberry helps you fight the problem of aging due to its high antioxidants content. Oxidative Radiance Activity Capacity (ORAC) value is 3387 micromole per 100 g. Free radicals are known to damage healthy cells. They damage the healthy skin and accelerate the process of aging. But antioxidants fight these free radicals and slow down the process of aging.
9. Diarrhea and Dysentery
Due to its strong cooling and laxative properties, Gooseberry is a wonderful component in remedies for diarrhea and dysentery. It offers great relief for gastric syndrome as well as hyperchlorhydria (burning sensation in the abdomen). As a laxative, it helps flush out toxins or harmful substances you may have eaten that are causing your discomfort or illness, thus removing it from your system so the healing process can begin, and cooling the burning and discomfort often felt when diarrhea occurs.
10. Hair care
Gooseberry is used in several hair tonics because it enhances hair growth and hair pigmentation. It fortifies the roots of hair, maintains color, and improves luster. Regular consumption of fresh gooseberry or applying its paste on hair roots improves hair growth and color. Gooseberry oil is quite popular in India because it has been shown to decrease the chances of hair loss and baldness. This quality is due to the carotene content of gooseberry, as well as its iron content and general antioxidant capacity, which reduces hair loss by not allowing free radicals to damage hair follicles or impact the hormones that can cause premature hair loss.
11. Improving Appetite
Regular consumption of Gooseberry powder with butter and honey before a meal improves appetite. It also helps to balance nitrogen levels, thus increasing weight in a healthy ways.
12. Heart Disease
Gooseberry helps to strengthen the heart muscles, so the heart pumps blood effortlessly throughout the body. By decreasing excess cholesterol buildup, the chromium can reduce the chances of atherosclerosis, or plaque buildup in the vessels and arteries. This reduces the chances of strokes and heart attacks. The iron content encourages the creation of new red blood cells, increasing circulation and the oxygenation of organs and cells to maximize growth and regeneration of tissue, while keeping the blood vessels and arteries clean.
13. Diuretic Activity
Besides being a fruit that is very high in water, Gooseberry is slightly diuretic in nature. This means that it increases the frequency as well as volume of urination. Urination helps to eliminate unwanted toxins and excess levels of water, salts, and uric acid from the body. Additionally, it can help you lose weight, since up to 4% of urine is actually composed of fat. Thus, a diuretic substance is always essential for keeping our kidneys healthy, and also preventing urinary infections and uterine infections. Gooseberry is a great way to do this.
Gooseberries have antibacterial and astringent attributes; so it protects the body against infection and improves the body’s immune response. They are also a very good source of vitamin C, which is eminent for its impressive antioxidant abilities and its stimulation of the immune system. It increases the white blood cell count in the body, which is the main line of defense for the immune system, since white blood cells attack and remove foreign toxins and substances in the bloodstream and throughout the body.
15. Metabolic Activity
Regular consumption of protein rich foods is one of the most significant ways to stay healthy, since proteins are an essential part of our body’s metabolic activities. Our enzymes can breakdown plant proteins into amino acids and reunite them into usable proteins for our body. Protein is essential for cellular growth; muscle development, organ health, and a wide range of other metabolic activities that we need to remain healthy and happy!
How to Eat
- Emblic fruit is extremely rich in vitamin C and edible fresh, cooked, dried or pickled.
- Fruit is cooked in various cuisines in a dhal (lentil) preparation and in a sweet dish amle ka murabbah indigenous to the northern part of India (wherein the berries are soaked in sugar syrup for a long time) which is traditionally consumed after meals in Andra Pradesh.
- Fresh fruits are also baked in tarts.
- It is a common practice for Indian housewives to cook the fruits with sugar and saffron and give one or two to a child every morning.
- Fruit is used to as sour seasoning in sambal and sayor in place of tamarind pulp in Indonesia and Malaysia.
- Ripe or half-ripe fruits are used to make sweetmeats, jams, jellies, “emblic myrobalan” fruit preserves, candies, emblic powder, chutney, pickles and relishes.
- Emblic preserves are manufactured and marketed in large quantities in India.
- Preserved amblics are available in enameled cans or crystallized as a confection.
- Emblic flesh can be dried and made into chips.
- Fruit juice is used to flavor vinegar.
- Fruit is extensively used by local Thais to quench the thirst when walking in the forest in Thailand.
- Phyllanthus drink prepared from fruit extract is commonly known, and wine made from fruit extract is sold in the market in China.
- Tart, astringent quality berries are favored in fish, poultry, and meat dishes.
- Berries are also used in muffins, pie-fillings, and ice creams.
- They are also used to flavor beverages such as sodas, flavored waters, or milk, and can be made into fruit wines and teas.
- Gooseberries can be preserved in the form of jams, dried fruit, or as the primary or a secondary ingredient in pickling, or stored in sugar syrup.