The supplement market is a behemoth. There are seemingly endless pills, powders, and tinctures that make all sorts of claims about improving your well-being, and it’s hard to know which ones actually make good on those promises.
You might know a thing or two about the more commonplace supplements, like protein powder, branch-chain amino acids (BCAAs), and multivitamins. But what about the more niche offerings, like herbal remedies and plant powders?
Amla powder likely falls into the latter category. You may have heard of it, but do you know what it is and what it’s used for?
“Amla is an Indian gooseberry,” says Vandana Sheth, RDN, author of My Indian Table: Quick & Tasty Vegetarian Recipes. “It is the edible yellowish-green fruit that grows on a small tree commonly found in India.”
Sheth, who grew up in India, remembers picking amla off the trees as a child snacking on them raw, sprinkled with salt and chili powder. “My mom also made pickles (chopped or whole amla fermented in salt, water, spices), or sometimes added it to dal (a lentil soup),” she says. “We also enjoyed a snack of salted and dried versions of amla.”
The fruit itself is not widely available in the United States, but amla powder has made its way to supplement shelves. Here’s what you need to know about what amla powder is, what it can and can not do for your health, what it tastes like, and how to consume it.
Made from dried and ground amla fruit (Indian gooseberries), amla powder is a brown, fine powder. “It has a tart, sour, bitter and somewhat astringent taste,” Sheth says.
Whole amla can also be eaten raw, pickled, cooked, or blended into other drinks. It’s the color of a green grape, and similar in size and shape to a cherry.
“Amla is one of the richest natural sources of vitamin C,” says Sharon Puello, a registered dietitian based in Yonkers, New York. “Because amla supplements are made using real fruits, they naturally contain co-nutrients like bioflavonoids that help with the absorption and utilization of vitamin C in your body.”
Aside from its high vitamin C content, it’s hard to say what the benefits of amla powder might be. “Not a lot of research as to the benefits of amla have been conducted on humans,” Puello says.
In a randomized controlled trial published in Contemporary Clinical Trials Communications in 2020, researchers assigned 15 healthy adult subjects to either a placebo or a 500 milligram daily amla supplement for 18 weeks.
They found that those who received amla had slightly slightly improved blood flow, increased HDL (good) cholesterol, decreased LDL (bad) cholesterol, and lower levels of oxidative stress, without any side effects. However, because the study was so small and short-term, it’s impossible to draw conclusions about the effect of amla powder on the general population in the long term.
There’s also some talk about amla powder improving hair health, as a few animal studies have shown that amla oil applied to the scalp increases the rate of hair growth. But there are no human studies back up this claim.
Amla powder is a good source of vitamin C. However, the National Institutes of Health explain that vitamin C deficiency is extremely rare in developed countries. All fruits and vegetables contain high levels of the vitamin, and it’s found in other foods as well.
That said, if you like the taste of amla powder and want to add it to your diet, Puello says that there’s no harm in that. Because amla powder is so bitter, you’ll likely need to pair it with sweet ingredients, like banana or honey, in a smoothie.
Sheth also recommends hunting for whole amla instead of the powdered stuff. “While fresh amla are hard to find here, you can find frozen amla, pickled amla and dried amla packets in an Indian grocery store,” she says.
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Source: Culled From Healthy Duck.
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