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The goodness of amla

Kusum Kanojia, April 4, 2013:
Amla is the richest source of vitamin C.

Amla’s goodness is now lore.This small sour fruit, the Indian gooseberry, and commonly known as amla (emblica officinalis) is full of nutrients. It’s not surprising that experts point out that amla is present in nearly two-third of herbal supplements. For health enthusiasts, amla is a must-eat daily food in any form – raw,
pickled, dried or as juice.

Doctors hail its goodness. Dr Sandeep Madaan, chief physician at the Aastha Ayurvedic Clinic, and a well-known expert in the field of ayurvedic healing, says amla is both a fruit and a herb (rasayana). It’s a rich source of high-quality vitamin C, calcium, phosphorus and iron.

It’s no surprise that amla is recommended by nutritionists all over the world. “Amla fights against free radicals which damage healthy human cells and thereby keeps disease at bay. Amla also detoxifies the body; it’s very good for the skin and hair. Amal in its raw form is best. The juice, about 10 to 20 ml, is an excellent tonic. You can add salt or honey to it. I know many people who have been consuming amla in some form or the other for many years,” he says.

Unlike many other fruits, amla’s Vitamin C is not lost even after it is dried, ground or cooked. Suinta Roy Choudhary, a senior dietician at Rockland Hospital, says, “Amla has the richest source of Vitamin C, anti-oxidants, Vitamin A and some Vitamin E. It is also a pre-biotic, helping in digestion.”

Amla has an interesting history. It’s been used in herbal medicines for almost 5000 years. Ayurveda doctors say Indian seers discovered amla as a potent rejuvenating herb. “Amla is used in the preparation of many herbal medicines. About 3000 ayurvedic formulations available in the market have amla as one of the
ingredients,” says Dr Sandeep.

This nutrient-packed fruit is commonly known in most Indian households as murabba and pickle. Deepak Chaudhary, whose family consumes amla regularly, says, “We buy fresh amlas, boil them, and make a pickle with mustard seeds and curry leaves. Tasty and healthy.”

Amla murabba can be made at home. It’s sweet to taste. Chef Sanjeev Kapoor has posted a simple recipe on his website: Cook amla in a pan for 10 to 15 minutes in water. Once they are tender, remove the seeds. Heat sugar with some water till it dissolves and forms a syrup. Add amla, crushed black cardamom seeds, almonds and saffron. Allow it to cook uncovered on low heat till the mixture is thick and translucent. Cool and store in airtight jars.


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