It is the most versatile berry around; the tiny and sour gooseberry holds the secret for a healthy life.
Containing 80 percent water, it is rich in proteins, carbohydrates, Vitamin C, fibre and minerals. Gooseberries are an excellent source of antioxidants, too, that help in building a strong and sound immune system. Many health problems are caused by oxidative damage (when body cells use oxygen they produce by-products that can cause harm). Antioxidant agents prevent and repair such impairments.
Apart from having their origin in India, gooseberries, also known as Amla (Hindi) and Nellikkai (Tamil), have been grown in Britain since the time of King Henry Vlll. In the north of England, gooseberry clubs were popular, with members fiercely competing for the varieties that produced the biggest, best and juiciest fruit of the year. There is also an ancient legend about fairies finding shelter in the prickly bushes, earning gooseberries the epithet of fayberries.
Gooseberry almost a panacea!
Gooseberry juice found use as a medicine in the treatment of fever right from the times of yore and in the sixteenth century they were prescribed to plague victims.
Gooseberry has several health benefits, the most important one being its ability to treat respiratory diseases. It also augments food absorption, fortifies the liver, sharpens mental faculties, strengthens the lungs, enhances fertility, soothes the urinary system during infections and supports cardiovascular activity by improving blood circulation in the heart.
The fruit is extremely beneficial for diabetic patients, too, as it helps in reducing the sugar levels in the body. Gooseberries stimulate the hormones that secrete insulin. As an anti-ageing agent, gooseberries prevent the presence of excess lipids in the blood.
When mixed with honey, gooseberries are very effective in improving eyesight. This concoction is also quite popular among herbalists as an herbal remedy for various ailments. Gooseberries also help in producing red blood corpuscles in the body and strengthen teeth and nails.
As a boost to the digestive system too, gooseberries enable easy digestion, especially after a meal of spicy or oily food. In acute or chronic acidity, simply take one gram of gooseberry powder with a little sugar in milk or water twice a day. Due to its antibacterial and astringent attributes the Indian gooseberry protects against infection and improves body resistance.
In myriad avatars
In all its forms, gooseberry is good for health. Have it in its dried form, as a fruit or as juice to ensure good health. It could also be used as a substitute for lemon and tamarind. Gooseberries are available abundantly in the winter and are largely consumed in the form of juice, which acts as a diuretic; it also normalises acidic urine providing relief from burning urination and urinary infections. One can also make a murabba or a tangy, spicy pickle from the fruit. The ubiquitous berries are best known for their use in desserts such as pies, fools and crumbles. They are commonly preserved by drying, storing in sugar syrup, or as jam and marmalade. Gooseberries are also used to flavour soda, water or even milk and to make fruit wine.
The hair care solution
Gooseberries are the best solution for hair related problems. All traditional recipes for promoting hair growth contain gooseberry as the chief ingredient. Anyone worried about premature greying would be delighted to know gooseberry powder soaked in water and left in an iron utensil works as a 3-in-1 preparation-- shampoo, conditioner and hair-dye. Regular application of this mixture for a few hours at a time is ideal. A quarter kilo of gooseberries boiled in a litre of coconut oil and stored in a cool place acts as an effective preventive for baldness and grey hair.
Recipe for health
A glass of gooseberry juice a day is sure to keep your system free of all ailments. Here is a simple recipe for the same:
Gooseberries - 1/4 kg
Ginger - A small piece
Salt - As required
Water - As required
1) Cut gooseberries into small pieces and deseed.
2) Place along with ginger and salt in a blender.
3) Grind the above adding enough water.
4) Take the ground mixture and strain it.
5) Raise a toast to good health and drink away.