Amla, also known as Indian gooseberry, is very healthy and eating amla candy in moderation can be good for you. However, large amounts of sugar and calories in candy counter the benefits. Eating 1-2 pieces of amla candy per day is reasonable but more than that is not recommended. Be mindful of your overall sugar and calorie intake.
What is Amla Candy?
Amla candy is a type of Indian sweet made from the edible fruit of the amla berry, also known as Indian gooseberry. The amla fruit is soaked in sugar syrup, which allows the candy to take on the sour and tangy flavor of amla. The fruit is also boiled with various spices such as cardamom, cloves, and cinnamon which gives the candy its unique flavor.
Amla candy often contains large amounts of sugar, ranging from 30-50% of the total weight. It has a soft, chewy texture reminiscent of taffy or caramel candies. The candies are cube-shaped and dusted in powdered sugar. They can range in color from golden yellow to translucent light green depending on the proportion of amla fruit to sugar.
Nutritional Value of Amla Candy
The amla berry is revered in Ayurvedic medicine and Indian cuisine for its high nutritional content:
– Excellent source of vitamin C. One amla berry contains up to 600mg of vitamin C, several times more than an orange. Vitamin C acts as a powerful antioxidant that boosts immunity.
– Rich in polyphenols and flavonoids with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. These compounds have been linked to several health benefits including improved heart health, anticancer effects, and blood sugar regulation.
– Good source of fiber which promotes digestive health.
– Contains minerals like calcium, phosphorus, iron and zinc.
However, the high sugar content of amla candy counteracts some of the berry’s nutritional benefits:
– Amla candy has a very high glycemic index, meaning it causes rapid spikes in blood sugar. Too much sugar consumption has been linked to weight gain, heart disease and diabetes.
– The vitamin C in amla degrades during the heating and candying process. One piece of candy may provide only 10-20mg vitamin C compared to raw amla which provides 600mg per berry.
– The overall nutrition value is diluted by the large amounts of added sugar.
Benefits of Eating Amla Candy
Despite the high sugar content, eating amla candy in moderation may provide some benefits:
– May support immune function. The vitamin C and antioxidants in amla can boost immunity and help fight infections.
– May improve digestion. The fiber in amla acts as a prebiotic to feed beneficial gut bacteria. Amla also helps relieve constipation.
– Anti-inflammatory effects. The antioxidants may help reduce inflammation throughout the body.
– Lower cholesterol. Some research shows amla may reduce LDL and total cholesterol levels.
– Heart health. Antioxidants like flavonoids protect the heart against oxidative damage and atherosclerosis.
However, these benefits would require consuming significant amounts of amla fruit itself. The candied versions provide smaller amounts of the bioactive compounds.
Downsides of Eating Too Much Amla Candy
Eating too many amla candies may cause the following downsides:
– **Weight gain:** Each piece of amla candy may contain 150-200 calories, mainly from sugar. Eating 5-10 pieces a day can pile up several hundred unnecessary calories and lead to weight gain in the long run.
– **Blood sugar spikes:** The high glycemic index of amla candy causes rapid spikes in blood sugar after eating. In diabetes patients this can be dangerous and worsen insulin resistance over time.
– **Dental cavities:** Excess sugar consumption and improper dental hygiene leads to an increased risk of cavities and tooth decay.
– **Gastrointestinal issues:** Overeating amla candy may cause side effects like bloating, gas, cramping and diarrhea due to its strong laxative effects.
– **Toxicity:** Very high doses of vitamin C from amla candy may lead to conditions like diarrhea, kidney stones, or oxidative stress from too many antioxidants.
– **Reduced nutrition:** The candying process degrades heat-sensitive nutrients like vitamin C and antioxidants compared to fresh amla fruit.
Recommended Intake of Amla Candy
To balance the pros and cons of amla candy, nutritionists recommend the following daily intake guidelines:
– 1-2 pieces per day (15-30g): This small serving size limits sugar and calorie intake but still provides a decent amount of nutrients. Spread out your intake by having one piece in the morning and one in the afternoon.
– No more than 3-4 pieces per day: Beyond this amount, sugar and calories start accumulating rapidly without much additional nutritional benefit.
– Have with meals: Eating amla candy with breakfast, lunch or dinner helps slow down absorption of sugar and prevents blood sugar spikes.
– Drink water: Stay well hydrated while consuming amla candy to maintain water balance in the body.
– Brush teeth after eating: Proper oral hygiene minimizes risk of cavities from the sugar.
– Not recommended for diabetics: The blood sugar spikes can be dangerous for diabetics. Consult a doctor before consuming.
– Avoid giving to young children: Candy is not recommended for kids under 5 years due to choking hazards. Older kids should have minimal amounts under parental guidance.
Healthy Ways to Eat Amla Candy
You can integrate amla candy into your diet in healthy ways:
– As a snack between meals. Have one piece to curb sweet cravings.
– Along with other nuts, seeds or dried fruits for an energy-boosting trail mix.
– Crushed up and sprinkled on yogurt, oatmeal or salads to add flavor.
– As a dessert after lunch or dinner instead of high-calorie sweets.
– During long flights or road trips when you need an energy lift.
– After working out to replenish blood sugar levels. The candy provides glucose for muscles.
– As part of festive occasions like Diwali, Navratri, or Indian weddings where it is traditionally served. Enjoy a few pieces.
Avoid binge eating entire boxes of amla candy in one sitting. Moderation is key to get benefits without adverse effects.
Risks of Eating Too Much Amla Candy
Consuming excess amla candy can increase your risk of the following:
– **Cavities:** Pieces getting stuck in teeth crevices and sugar feeding bacteria causes tooth decay. Risk goes up the more frequently you eat the candy.
– **Weight gain:** Frequent sugar spikes and excess calories lead to fat deposits and obesity over time. Hard to lose weight with such an unhealthy diet.
– **Diabetes:** The high glycemic index strains the pancreas and worsens insulin resistance, increasing the risk of type 2 diabetes.
– **GI issues:** Symptoms like cramping, bloating, gas and diarrhea from overconsuming any sugar-laden candy.
– **Fatty liver:** Excess fructose from added sugars gets converted to fat and stored in the liver, leading to non-alcoholic fatty liver.
– **Heart disease:** Poor lipid profile and atherosclerosis from too much sugar can increase risk of heart attacks and strokes.
– **Kidney stones:** High oxalate foods like amla may contribute to painful calcium oxalate kidney stones when overeaten. Drink plenty of water.
– **Nutrient imbalance:** Excess calories from sugar throws off nutrition ratios. Lack of protein, good fats and micronutrients also harmful.
Healthier Alternatives to Amla Candy
For those looking to cut down on sugar intake, some healthier alternatives provide the nutrition of amla without the excess sweetness:
– **Amla powder:** Dried and ground whole amla berries contain all the antioxidants, vitamin C, minerals and fiber without added sugar. Add to water, smoothies, or yogurt.
– **Amla chunks or slices:** Dehydrated slices maintain the original nutrition profile of the fruit. Enjoy as a snack or add to trail mixes.
– **Amla chutney:** Blending amla into chutneys with spices preserves nutrients and enhances flavor of dishes without needing extra sugar.
– **Amla juice:** Juicing fresh amla berries yields a tangy, nutrient-loaded drink. Have a small glass for your daily dose of vitamin C.
– **Amla tea:** Steep dried or fresh amla pieces in hot water for an antioxidant-rich tea. Sweeten lightly with honey or stevia if needed.
– **Amla supplements:** Highly concentrated vitamins and minerals from amla fruit in convenient capsule or tablet form. Check purity and quality.
Any of these provide amla’s health benefits without negative effects of candied versions. Moderating your intake of sugar-laden sweets is the best practice.
Typical Nutrition Facts of Amla Candy
The nutrition facts on commercially made amla candy may look like:
|Nutrient||Per 100g||Per piece (40g)|
– Very high in sugar, providing almost the entire calorie content. Around 83% sugar by weight.
– Low in protein, fat, and other vitamins and minerals.
– Minimal fiber since the amla fruit is boiled down into the candy.
– Some vitamin C and potassium, but much lower than raw amla fruit.
– Calorie content quickly adds up when eating multiple pieces per day.
Precautions for Eating Amla Candy
Keep these precautions in mind when consuming amla candy:
– Check labels for added colors, preservatives, artificial sweeteners which can cause adverse effects.
– Avoid if allergic or sensitive to any ingredients. Amla may cause reactions in those allergic to gooseberries.
– Monitor portion sizes as calories add up fast. Especially risky for diabetics and those trying to lose weight.
– Brush teeth after to prevent cavity-causing bacteria from adhering to the candy particles.
– Stay hydrated to maintain water and electrolyte balance with the excess sugar load.
– Not suitable for children under 5 years due to choking hazard from hard, chewy texture.
– Consult your doctor about safe consumption if you have any medical conditions or take medications that interact with sugar intake.
– Purchase from reputable confectioners following good manufacturing practices and hygienic standards during processing.
– Consume candy within recommended best-by date for safety and maximum freshness. Discard any pieces that look or smell spoiled.
Storage Guidelines for Amla Candy
Follow these tips to properly store amla candy:
– Keep candy in an airtight container in a cool, dry place away from heat, moisture and direct sunlight.
– Avoid storing in the refrigerator as condensation can cause pieces to become sticky. Fridge temperatures also harden the candy over time.
– Shelf life is 1-2 months at room temperature. Discard pieces that become hard, sticky or develop mold.
– In hot humid climates, store candy in the refrigerator only for 2-3 days to prevent spoiling. Let it come back to room temperature before eating.
– Freeze extra boxes of candy for long term storage up to 9 months. Thaw overnight in refrigerator before consuming.
– Check for signs of spoilage like stickiness, hard texture, visible mold, foul odor. Discard any pieces that seem off.
– Keep away from pests by storing in sealed containers. Insects and rodents may be attracted to the sugar.
Proper storage helps retain the texture, flavor, freshness and safety of amla candy when consuming it in moderation. Discard stale candy no longer fit for eating.
Potential Side Effects of Eating Too Much Amla Candy
Eating excessive amounts of amla candy can cause these possible side effects:
– **Headaches:** Rapid sugar and calorie overload can trigger migraines in some people prone to them.
– **Digestive issues:** Stomach pain, cramping, bloating, gas, diarrhea from high fructose amounts.
– **Dehydration:** The high sugar content causes increased urination and fluid loss if not replaced.
– **Fatigue:** Reactive hypoglycemia from sugar spikes and crashes leads to tiredness and low energy.
– **Tachycardia:** Heart palpitations from the cardiovascular stress of digesting large amounts of sugar.
– **Dental cavities:** Increased dental plaque and tooth decay over time.
– **Weakened immunity:** Chronic high sugar intake causes inflammation and lowered immune function.
– **Weight gain:** Excess calories get stored as fat, contributing to obesity.
– **Hyperactivity:** Children may become hyper and unfocused due to sugar rush.
– **Aggravated PCOS/acne:** Spikes in blood glucose and insulin worsen these hormonal conditions.
Amla candy makes for a delicious and nutritious treat when consumed in moderation. 1-2 small pieces a day provides vitamin C, minerals, antioxidants and fiber from the amla fruit along with glucose energy from the sugar content. This balances some of the nutrition from the berries with the satisfaction of a sweet.
However, excess intake can lead to health issues like cavities, weight gain, blood sugar spikes and imbalance in calorie ratios for a healthy diet. Limit your portions, brush teeth after eating, and choose fresh fruits and veggies for day to day nutrition. Check with your doctor about suitability if you have any medical conditions. Store amla candy properly to retain freshness and use pieces within recommended best-by dates. With mindful consumption, enjoying amla candy can be a part of an overall healthy lifestyle.