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Imagine a fruit that supports healthy blood sugar levels, cholesterol levels already within the normal range, healthy arterial linings, and protects against the ravages of oxidative stress.
Now, a wealth of new studies on an Ayurvedic herbal fruit called Amalaki provides compelling evidence that this fruit may just be the perfect food for your heart. (1) The herb Amalaki is the dried and powdered form of the amla fruit (Phyllanthus emblica), which is abundant in India and a staple of the traditional Indian diet.
We often don’t take charge of our heart health until we have symptoms, or a test comes back that scares us into taking action. Keep reading to learn how to harness the benefits of this amazing, multi-faceted star of the Ayurvedic apothecary and ensure strong heart health for years to come.
Amalaki has long been known to nourish and support the integrity of the skin, both on the inside and outside of the body.
As we now know, and as I have mentioned many times in my articles, the health of the inner skin and the health of the outer skin are directly related. Our efforts to keep our outer skin “wrinkle free” should, in my book, correspond to efforts to keep the inner skin healthy and “wrinkle free” as well.
What Does the Skin Have to Do With It?
The heart and all its arteries are lined with inner skin cells called endothelial cells, which make up the endothelium. These endothelial cells help regulate blood pressure, blood flow, and ensure that nutrients and oxygen get to all the vital tissues.
Stress – oxidative stress in particular– can reduce the production of a molecule called nitric oxide, which supports the lining of the arteries. Nitric oxide, a Nobel Prize-winning molecule, tells the arteries when to relax in order to improve blood flow. Without adequate nitric oxide production, oxidative stress can cause an imbalance in those precious endothelial cells that line the arterial walls.
In laboratory studies with cultured endothelial cells, Amalaki has linked to increased nitric oxide serum levels and available electrolytes, evidence that it supports the health of the arteries. (2)
- Oxidative stress may oxidize cholesterol in the blood, causing an imbalance of the lining of the arteries.
- Amalaki has also been shown to support healthy and normal antioxidant activity in the blood. It gobbles up oxidized molecules called reactive oxygen species, slows the oxidation process, and enhances the body’s natural defenses against oxidative stress. (3)
Cold Hands and Feet?
Good circulation and a healthy lining of the arterial walls 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 for a set period of time. Doing so temporarily compromises endothelial function and raises blood pressure.
After the first test, the volunteers were supplemented with Amalaki twice a day for 14 days. Following a 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. (4)
Healthy Lipid Levels
Amalaki has been shown to support healthy lipid levels in the blood via an important cholesterol pathway. PPAR-alpha is a metabolic sensor that regulates blood lipid metabolism. As the body ages this sensor can lose efficacy, resulting in reduced metabolism of lipids via genetic misfiring. The administration of amalaki in aged animal models has been shown to significantly improve PPAR-alpha’s ability to fire, resulting in improved lipid metabolism. (5)
Other studies suggest that Amalaki supports better reactions to mental stress and healthy blood sugar levels, which together are important for 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.