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In this article, I’d like to share with you two amazing fruits that have the ability to support digestion, lymphatic drainage, healthy arterial walls, and your entire cardiovascular system.
The fruit of the Amla tree, called Indian Gooseberry or amalaki, along with the pomegranate fruit, have a long history as potent Ayurvedic herbs, and have recently become the focus of many scientific studies for the heart, arteries and fat metabolism.
Amalaki is well known as a natural source of vitamin C, which is an essential vitamin. While most forms of vitamin C can cause looser stools at high doses, amalaki can support healthy, firm stools, exemplifying the difference between a store-bought synthetic or extracted vitamin C and the natural, whole form of vitamin C found in amalaki. For years, I have been extremely impressed by amalaki’s incredible ability to support intestinal health and intestinal mucus levels that can compromise assimilation and detoxification pathways. (1)
Healthy Cholesterol Levels
Amalaki’s effect on the cardiovascular system has recently given this Ayurvedic fruit international attention. In the same way amalaki supports the gut, it also supports the body’s natural regulation of the endothelial linings of blood vessels and the normal proliferation of vascular of smooth muscle cells. (2-4) Amalaki has been shown to improve high-density lipoprotein (HDL) levels and lower triglycerides in human trials. (5)
Other studies suggest that amalaki supports healthy blood pressure, better reactions to short-term stress, and balanced blood sugar, all of which are vital to maintaining optimal cardiovascular health. These studies suggest that amalaki provides unique and comprehensive support for heart and arterial health, perhaps earning it the title of the perfect herb for overall cardiovascular support.
The Fruit of Youth
Amalaki may help reduce AGEs (advanced glycation end-products) that have been implicated in many age-related health concerns. (6,7) AGEs are dangerous cross-links between proteins and excess sugars which can alter the function of protein throughout the body as we age. The lesser-known AGEs are now thought to be more problematic than free radicals, and are known to be the “smoking gun” found at the sites of many degenerative conditions associated with the aging process. (8-10)
Amalaki and Circulation
Good circulation and a healthy lining of the arterial walls play an important role in our ability to keep our hands and feet at 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 for a set period of time. Doing so acutely compromises arterial endothelial function and raises blood pressure temporarily.
After the first test, the 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 of supplemental amalaki and the second cold pressure test, the group supplemented with amalaki had a significant reduction of arterial stiffness (8%) as a measure of endothelial health and better blood pressure reactions compared to the placebo group. (2)
Amalaki Dosage Suggestion
Amalaki may support the healthy maintenance of the intestinal mucosa, lymphatic drainage, arterial walls, and the entire cardiovascular system with as little as 500 to 1000 mg per day.
Amalaki adds a nice tart/sour taste that can often replace lemon, lime or vinegar. As it can have a slight grainy texture when the powder is added dry foods, use it in watery foods or dissolve it in liquid first. Start with a small amount to find your preferred dose because adding too much can taste bitter to some people. Add 1/4-1/2 tsp of amalaki powder to the following foods:
- Amalaki Mintade for 2 people: juice of 1 lemon, ¼-1/2 tsp of 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)
Pomegranates are the other amazing fruit I would like to discuss. One study showed that the antioxidant properties of pomegranates far exceed those of blueberries, grapes, red wine, vitamin C, vitamin E, and others. (2,22) Pomegranates offer abundant health for the cardiovascular system by supporting arterial health. (11) In one Israeli study, with only 2 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% in combination with healthy diet and exercise. (13)
Pomegranate helps support blood sugar levels and protects the cardiovascular system from free radicals . (12) Pomegranates also positively effect cholesterol oxidation. (14) Studies show that pomegranates can support an increase in the natural production of one of the body’s most potent antioxidants – the Nobel Prize winning molecule nitric oxide – by a whopping 130%. (13) In addition, pomegranates may protect the brain against oxidative stress-induced changes linked to cognitive concerns associated with aging. (15)
Pomegranate Dosage Suggestion
Drink 2-8 oz every day of pomegranate juice to benefit from its ability to support the cardiovascular system, healthy cholesterol, and the fight against free radicals with its high level of antioxidants.
- Tip: when you find pomegranate juice on sale, freeze it into an ice cube tray then store in a zip lock bag. You can dissolve the cubes later in juice, soups or smoothies.
- Pomegranate juice tastes delicious mixed with orange juice
- Fruit smoothies (add it to a berry smoothie of blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, dates and apple juice and a pinch or two of amalaki)
- Vegetable juice (carrot, ginger, apple, celery, 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 when added to acorn squash soup.
Pomegranate Seeds (arils)
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 it in a bowl of water. Peel away the seed sacs (arils), which will sink to the bottom. Strain to retrieve the arils. Opening it this way prevents red juice from splashing everywhere.
- Fruit salads: add the pomegranate pieces as a garnish
- Vegetable salad (try a romaine salad with the amalaki salad 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 desserts)
- Rice or quinoa pilaf (garnish after cooking)
- Topping for hot or cold cereals