Excluding spices, Indian gooseberries - also known as amla berries - are the highest antioxidant food in the world. It trumps all fruits, vegetables, teas, and other foods. What is the Indian gooseberry antioxidant content in comparison to other superfoods? To put it in perspective, it's 75x higher than goji berries, 50x higher than raw blueberries, and 2.5x higher than acai fruit.
These light-green colored berries are produced by a tree (Phyllanthus emblica) native to subtropical South and Southeast Asia. Most notably, India, where it is commonly referred to as an Amla tree or Malacca tree. It is commercially cultivated on hillsides, growing up to 60 feet in height along elevations of up to 6,500 feet.
It is extremely important to be aware there is a distinct difference between the Indian gooseberry versus the gooseberry known in western societies, such as the US and Europe. The latter is a totally different species, gooseberry (Ribes uva-crispa), which has an ORAC score of 3,332, a value more comparable to other commonly consumed berries.
Amla is used in Ayurvedic medicine as a diuretic, for constipation relief, insomnia, the treatment of scalp, as well as other purposes. Obviously, some of those side effects are not desirable (at least on a daily basis) for a well and healthy person, and hence, why they are typically consumed in minute quantities (and given its high antioxidant content, that's fine since a little goes a long way). Commercially, its oil is used for hair including dye and shampoo. In the food industry, it is used for a wide array of products including candies, jellies, sauces, and powders. The aforementioned side effects, along with the fact that it is bitter in taste, means its rarely used as a stand-alone ingredient for food. Most often, its ground to a powder and blended with other ingredients in order to dilute what many consider to be an unappealing taste.
Where does the Indian gooseberry grow outside of India? Despite being a relatively hardy tree, unfortunately it is sparingly cultivated in other regions of the world. We are unaware of any commercial cultivation occurring within the United States, though many enthusiasts living in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zone 9B can and do grows trees in their garden. However, those hoping to plant an amla tree in their backyard and reap the health benefits quickly will be disappointed to hear that an Indian gooseberry seedling can take up to 10 years until it bears fruit.
Hopefully, as more consumers become aware of its outstanding ORAC, demand will spark greater supply. But where can I buy Indian gooseberries today? In the US, fresh berries are not available, however you can purchase herbal supplements or organic dried amla berry powder.
Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't: Carlsen MH, Halvorsen BL, Holte K, et al. Nutrition Journal NIH Jan 2010