Gooseberries For Heart Health

Friday, June 7th, 2019

In Ayurvedic medicine, amla (the Indian Gooseberry) is reported to be beneficial in the treatment of respiratory, cardiovascular (heart), and rheumatic diseases as well as diabetes. By Arjuna Naturals.

Gooseberries are an important dietary, culinary and medicinal agent in the Indian sub-continent. In addition to its dietary use, gooseberries are also an important medicinal plant in the traditional Indian system of medicine, the Ayurveda (Indian traditional healthcare system) and in various folk systems of medicine practiced in Southeast Asia for centuries.

In Ayurveda, amla is reported to be beneficial in the treatment of respiratory, cardiovascular, and rheumatic diseases as well as diabetes. Various experimental studies have also suggested the antioxidant and hypolipidemic effects of amla. In a clinical study, lipid lowering action of amla has been reported in patients aged 35-55 years when raw amla was administered for 28 days.

Amla also decreases lipid peroxidation. Lipid peroxidation, a free radical mediated cell injury, is one of the most evaluated consequences of free radicals on membrane structure. Multiple studies have shown that amla possesses inhibitory effects on lipid peroxidation induced by various factors. Scientific studies carried out in accordance with the principle of modern medicine have validated these benefits.

There are two types of Indian gooseberry, the one which is small hard and fibrous and grows wild in forests in the Indian subcontinent, and the other variety which is softer, juicier and more succulent than the wild variety. The wild amla is a form of the superior cultivated alma. It grows wild, mostly in the forests which have a sub temperate climate. The cultivated amla cannot be grown in all places as it is highly susceptible to frost. The wild amla, on the other hand, is a relatively cold-hardy plant. Some of the places where it is seen growing even experience light snowfall. The wild amla is a small to medium sized tree attaining a height up to 5.5 m. This is a very ornamental plant, especially when the branches are laden with fruits. The fruits are 2 to 2.5 cm in diameter and weigh about 6 g each. The cultivated one yields relatively bigger fruits. The average yield of wild amla trees growing in the forests is 23.5 kg per tree whereas the cultivated variety yields between 30 kg and 80 kg of amla a season. Wild amla is sourer compared to the cultivated variety. Both have the characteristic smell of amla with more astringency for wild amla fruit.

Cultivated hybrid variety is harvested twice in a season: November to December as well as May. Wild amla is ripe in February when the fruits have maximum ascorbic acid (Vitamin C) content. People in India collect mature amla fruits by shaking the branches when they are just ready to drop on the ground.  They remove immature, damaged and diseased fruits and the the remaining fruits are graded according to their size, weight, color and maturity. The fruits are then washed in water and drained.

Arjun’s amla extract (Trilow) is effective in regulating pro-atherogenic factors, including cholesterol triglycerides and LDL lipoproteins. The clinical significance of lipids is primarily associated with coronary heart disease (CHD) and various lipoprotein disorders.

Increased cholesterol is a factor in the cause of atherosclerotic diseases. Atherosclerosis results from a slow, chronic process of deposition of lipids (fat and cholesterol that accompanies a thickening of the blood vessel walls Subsequently, many studies have confirmed that free and esterified cholesterol accumulates in the aorta, coronary arteries, and cerebral vessels, and that the rate of accumulation varies among individuals. Many epidemiological and clinical studies have shown that both increased LDL cholesterol and decreased HDL cholesterol are associated with an increased risk of CHD.

While cholesterol is an essential component of mammalian cell membranes, in excess, it is toxic to cells. Reverse cholesterol transport is a critical pathway for maintaining cholesterol homeostasis in mammals. Since the cholesterol ring structure cannot be broken down by cells into carbon dioxide and water, this pathway has evolved to transport excess cholesterol from peripheral cells to the liver for excretion directly into bile or for conversion to bile acids and then excretion. It reduces Atherogenic Index of Plasma (AIP) apart from reducing ApoB and increasing ApoA1.


Reduction Of Triglycerides & Cholesterol

Part of this TG-lowering response was associated with changes in intestinal fat metabolism including increased fecal FA excretion, specifically fecal palmitate and stearate. Trilow modulates HMG-CoA and thus regulates Cholesterol synthesis. They interfere with the formation of micelles in the intestine and prevent intestinal cholesterol absorption.

Though the exact mechanism of hypolipidemic action of amla is not known, it is likely that the amla-induced favourable changes in the lipid profile may be due to several mechanisms such as an interference with cholesterol absorption, inhibition of HMG Co-A reductase activity, and increase in Lecithin-Cholesterol Acyltransferase (LCAT) activity.

Gooseberries produced significant hypolipidemic effect along with a reduction in blood pressure. Addition of amla to the currently available hypolipidemic therapy would offer significant protection against atherosclerosis and coronary artery disease, with reduction in the dose and adverse effects of the hypolipidemic agents.


Further reading:
Food Cultures To Tackle Food Waste
Packaging Has A Key Role In Reducing Our Food Waste: An Australian Perspective
One Way That Supermarkets Of The Future Can Tackle The Scandal Of Food Waste