By Dr. Shernaz Baji Avari
The amlas are in season now so make the best use of it. It is the largest source of Vitamin ‘C’ and increases the body’s resistance against diseases
The Indian Gooseberry also known as the ‘Amla’ or ‘Awla’ offers a definite contribution to health and beauty. Besides its high content of Vitamin ‘C’, it’s the chief ingredient of the very well-known and famous CHAVANPRASH, a health booster that even makes our famous film star go ga-ga over it and one of the three ingredients of TRIPHALA a cooling compound and indigenous ayurvedic medicine which helps to eliminate all the three doshas namely ‘vatta’, ‘pitta’ and ‘kapha’ (windiness, bile, cough or phlegm).
You will find this small fruit resembling our ‘lime’ or ‘limbu’ more with the vegetable vendors than at the fruit stalls. It is pale green in colour with fine vertical stripes on its outer rind. Reasonably priced, you can either eat this fruit in its raw form, juice it or blend it with water, honey or jiggery and adrak, to enhance its flavour and nutritive value. You can make jams, ‘moorabbas’, pickles and marmalades and bottle the same. The Vitamin ‘C’ content of one awla fruit is more than that contained in 3 to 4 oranges Like most fruits, the awla too contains 80% water besides minute quantities of protein, fat, carbohydrates, fibrous elements, calcium, phosphorous, iron, Vitamin ‘A’ and ofcourse Vitamin ‘C’ in abundance. While some may or may not agree, I do agree with the Noble laureate Dr. Lions Polling who says “taking excess doses of Vitamin ‘C’ protects us from colds and fevers”. Shall I go one step further and say with utmost confidence that it builds up our body’s immunity as well? What is immunity you may ask? It is our body’s resistance power to fight and ward off diseases that comes to strike our internal anatomy. Considered sacred amongst our Hindu brethren, the amla plant is considered to be Nature’s gift of ‘amrut’ to mankind. Why only amlas? I think Nature’s bounty and blessings bestowed upon us aplenty in the form of fresh natural vegetation has abundant nutritional as well as medicinal properties to keep us vibrantly active in mind and body.
Some of you may not like to ‘bite’ into its sweet, sour and astringent taste; in that case just cut it into four or five pieces after discarding the seed or shred it minutely and soak it in a glass of water. You can go on sipping this water and later eat the awla with a tablespoon of honey. Nowadays, you can get pure packaged awla juices and squashes like the ginger-awla squash, Amla Panchamrut, a general tonic to be taken in small doses, Diabetic Amla Panchamrut for sugar control as well as some healthy sweets and candies. All these are available at most health food shops so you can have these preferably when the awla fruit is not in season or otherwise too. Since the Vitamin ‘C’ content of awlas purifies your blood it will keep your skin glowing, anti-wrinkle and also helps to thwart the natural ageing process. Whenever you feel a bit weak, tired or fatigued, come home from the scorching heat or your child feels exhausted, say ‘cheers’ to your chilled glass of amla juice! It also brings that sparkle to tired eyes and is very efficacious to the entire nervous system. It is also useful in uric acid troubles. It is said that if fresh amla juice is taken for 2 to 3 months, it helps in conditions of sterility and semen-weakness. Besides, it is helpful in constipation and jaundice too. It cleanse the mouth and restores taste and is even helpful in cases of deafness.