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Superfruits for Cardiovascular Health
Did you know there are two time-tested amazing fruits with the ability to maintain digestive health, lymphatic drainage, arterial walls, and your entire cardiovascular system?1,2
Not only are they powerful healers, they’re also delicious! Below I will provide the science of their healing abilities, plus some easy recipes you can try at home.
The fruit of the amla tree, also called Indian Gooseberry or amalaki, along with pomegranate, have a long history as potent Ayurvedic medicines, and have recently become the focus of many scientific studies on the heart, arteries, and fat metabolism.1,2
Amalaki is well-known as one of the most potent sources of vitamin C, an essential vitamin. While most forms of vitamin C will cause looser stools at high doses, amalaki can support healthy, firm stools, exemplifying the difference between store-bought synthetic or extracted vitamin C and the natural, whole form. For years, I have been extremely impressed by amalaki’s ability to support intestinal health and reduce intestinal mucus that compromises assimilation and detoxification pathways.1,3
Healthy Cholesterol Levels
Amalaki’s effect on the cardiovascular system has given this Ayurvedic fruit international attention. In the same way amalaki supports the gut, it also supports normal function of the endothelial linings of blood vessels.1,4-6 Amalaki has been shown to improve high-density lipoprotein (HDL) levels and lower low-density lipoprotein (LDL) levels.1,7
Other studies suggest amalaki supports healthy blood pressure, better reactions to mental stress, and healthy blood sugar, all of which lead to optimal cardiovascular health. These studies suggest that amalaki provides unique and comprehensive support for heart and arterial health, perhaps earning it the title perfect herb for cardiovascular support.
The Youth Fruit
Amalaki may reduce blood sugar-related AGEs (advanced glycation end-products) implicated in many age-related health issues.1,8-9 AGEs are damaging cross-links between proteins and excess sugars, which alter the function of protein throughout the body.
Lesser-known AGEs are now thought to be more problematic than free radicals, and are known to be the “smoking gun” found at the site of most degenerative conditions.10-12
Amalaki + Circulation
Good circulation and healthy arterial wall lining play an important role in our ability to keep our hands and feet the correct temperature. In one study, healthy volunteers underwent two “cold pressure” tests: one before amalaki supplementation and one after. This test required putting their hands in very cold water. Doing so acutely compromises endothelial function and raises blood pressure temporarily.
After the first test, volunteers were supplemented with amalaki twice a day for 14 days. All volunteers showed that same arterial stiffness and rise in blood pressure after the first cold pressure test. After 14 days, the amalaki group had a significant reduction of arterial stiffness (8%) as a measure of endothelial health and, compared to the placebo group, showed supported healthy blood pressure after the second cold pressure test.4
Amalaki Dosage Suggestion
Amalaki may maintain health of intestinal mucosa, lymphatic drainage, arterial walls, and the entire cardiovascular system with as little as 500-1,000 mg per day (1-2 capsules).1
Amalaki adds a nice tart/sour taste that can often replace lemon, lime, or vinegar. As it can have a slightly grainy texture when the powder is added dry foods, use it in liquid foods or dissolve it in a bit of liquid first. Start with a small amount to find your preferred dose because adding too much can taste bitter to some.
Add ¼- ½ tsp amalaki powder (or 1-2 capsules—they dissolve quickly) to the following foods.
- Amalaki Mintade for two: juice of 1 lemon, ¼-½ tsp amalaki powder, sprig of chopped mint. Sweeten to taste with honey, agave, or stevia.
- In warm water with a dash of honey, stevia, or agave
- Fruit smoothies
- Green smoothies
- Vegetables juices
- Salad dressings (try amalaki with olive oil, lemon, garlic, and salt)
- Soups (add after cooking)
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Pomegranates are the other amazing cardiovascular fruit. One study shows antioxidant properties of pomegranates far exceed blueberries, grapes, red wine, vitamin C, vitamin E, and others.2,21 Pomegranates offer abundant health for the cardiovascular system by supporting arterial health.2,22 In one Israeli study, with only two ounces a day of pure pomegranate juice, blood pressure fell by 21% after one year and plaque lesions in the carotid artery were reduced in size by 35%.2,23
Pomegranate helps support healthy blood sugar levels and protect the cardiovascular system from damage.2,23 Pomegranates also lower cholesterol oxidation.2,24 Studies show that pomegranates increase production of one of the most potent antioxidants, the Nobel Prize-winning molecule nitric oxide, by a whopping 130%.2,23 In addition, pomegranates may protect the brain against oxidative stress-induced changes that can lead to cognitive concerns associated with aging.2,25
Drink 2-8 oz every day of pomegranate juice to benefit from its ability to support the cardiovascular system, balance cholesterol, and help fight free radicals.
- Tip: when you find pomegranate juice on sale, freeze it into an ice cube tray, then store in an airtight container. Dissolve the cubes later in juice, soups, or smoothies.
- Pomegranate juice tastes delicious with orange juice
- Fruit smoothies (mix with blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, dates, apple juice, and a pinch or two of amalaki)
- Vegetable juice (carrot, ginger, apple, celery, and pomegranate is a yummy combo)
- Tea: add a splash of pomegranate juice to mint or hibiscus tea to stay cool this summer
- Soups: particularly delicious with acorn squash
Pomegranate Seed (Aril) Recipes
Pomegranate pieces (also called arils) add an exotic tart crunch to many of your favorite meals. Try some of our suggestions below.
- How to open a pomegranate: score a pomegranate into four pieces. Immerse in bowl of water. Peel away seed sacs (arils), which will sink to the bottom. Strain to retrieve arils. Opening this way prevents red juice from splashing everywhere.
- Fruit salads: add pomegranate pieces as a garnish
- Vegetable salad (try a romaine salad with amalaki dressing above, almonds, feta, cucumbers, and pomegranate pieces)
- Desserts: replace part of the liquid for cake or muffins with pomegranate juice. Garnish with pomegranate pieces (pairs well with chocolate or citrus)
- Rice or quinoa pilaf (garnish after cooking)
- Topping for hot or cold cereals
I hope you enjoy these delicious and magical fruits for many years of heart health! Have you tried any of them? Let us know what you think!