When it comes to berries in the UK, it’s not just a certain Great British Bake-Off judge who’s soared in popularity recently. In October 2016, Eurofresh Distribution reported that berry sales had risen by 132% in the country over the past decade. In the same year, it was also reported that berries made up a fifth of total fruit consumption in the UK.

One of the main catalysts for the berry boom has been increasingly health-conscious consumers seeking out the nutritional benefits they provide. Just seven strawberries will provide an adult with their daily vitamin C requirement, and studies have shown that raspberries may help to fend off a diseases ranging from Alzheimer’s and diabetes. Berries have also been a prominent ingredient in smoothies, which have experienced their own craze prompted by enhanced liquidisers like the Nutribullet nutrient extractor.

In response to the rise in sales, companies have been looking to tap into the health benefits of berries further afield in a bid to introduce exciting new flavours for consumers. One example is the gooseberry, which was recently investigated by India-based Arjuna Natural Extracts as part of an extraction project. The result was TRILOW, an all-natural bioactive extract derived from Indian gooseberry ‘amla’, which is said to help reduce the risk of heart disease.

Extracting the goods: preserving health advantages

While extracts have been taken from dried amla in the past, TRILOW has been derived from the fresh gooseberries after they have been collected, which Arjuna believes increases it quality. The company’s joint managing director Dr. Benny Antony claims that the unique extraction method required for the fruit is of vital importance for preserving its health advantages. “We focus on proprietary methods of gentle extraction by which the active phytochemicals are carefully extracted without causing any deterioration to its activity so that full potency of the components are maintained after the extraction” he said.

Amla’s medical benefits have already been observed in other products, according to Antony: “Amla has been in use in the Indian system of medicine, Ayurveda, from time immemorial and is an integral part of rasayanas, or the science of rejuvenation, which has been reputed to increase the body’s resistance to disease and slow down the ageing process.

“Amla is also the main constituent of the famous Ayurvedic jam Chyawanprash, a superb rejuvenator. It has cardio-protective effects and reduces serum cholesterol levels, as well as offers antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.”

Proven benefits: rise within the ranks

In particular, the new TRILOW extract has been used to prove the extent of amla’s healing properties with regards to cardiovascular disease. During Arjuna’s clinical trial, 98 patients with dyslipidemia –abnormally high cholesterol content in the blood – showed statistically significant improvement after receiving 500mg TRILOW doses twice a day.

Arjuna claims that Atherogenic Index of Plasma (AIP), a biochemical used to track cardiac health, is said to be reduced through use of the extract, proving it helps prevent fatty deposits building up in arteries. “TRILOW is beneficial in modulating lipid profiles contributing to cardiovascular disease and gives a favourable reduction in other pro-atherogenic factors,” Antony says.

According to the company, the gooseberry extract can be used as a dietary supplement in the form of a capsule or tablet, or in ‘functional foods’, to provide natural heart protection. Nevertheless, Antony also claims the tests have shown the Indian gooseberries have even more to offer health-wise. “Amla improves the immune system, act as a digestive aid and maintains healthy cholesterol levels. Indian gooseberries improve general immunity and stimulate hair growth” he explains.

These findings back up amla’s recent rise to the ranks of so-called ‘super berries’, such as acai or aronia berries, which are also reportedly offer exceptional health benefits. Now, Antony is optimistic that they will help raise the profile of the gooseberry further. He said: “Hopefully the demand for Indian gooseberry will go up once its whole health benefits are experienced through full-spectrum extracts like TRILOW.”