Health Benefits of Gooseberries

Gooseberries are beautiful, juicy, sour berries. Although gooseberries look like grapes, they are more closely related to currants. If you’ve never had a gooseberry, you may be wondering whether they’re worth trying. Gooseberries are loaded with fiber and vitamins, making them a highly nutritious choice.

Gooseberries are tart berries commonly used in fruit desserts or served in cooked sauces for rich meat like roast duck. They are low in calories, fat- and cholesterol-free and a good source of essential nutrients including vitamin C, vitamin A, manganese and dietary fiber. According to the United States Department of Agriculture’s Nutrient Data Laboratory, canned gooseberries are similar in nutrition to raw gooseberries. Since the raw berries are only available for a short time during the summer, canned gooseberries are a good substitute.

Though gooseberries look similar to grapes, they are actually berries filled with tiny seeds. The fruit — which can be green, white or red — provides many nutrients. Gooseberries have been consumed for centuries right off the vine or made into pies, jam or other desserts. Adding gooseberries to your diet can be a challenge because they are not readily available in many supermarkets, but finding ways to incorporate them into your diet can have many health benefits. The U.S. Department of Agriculture says that 1 cup of fresh berries such as gooseberries counts as a serving of fruit, and that healthy adult men and women need at least 2 cups of fruit every day. Each cup of gooseberries contains only 66 calories.

Gooseberry Nutrition Facts

One cup (150g) of raw gooseberries provides 66 calories, 1.3g of protein, 15g of carbohydrates, and 0.9g of fat. Gooseberries are an excellent source of vitamins A and C and the mineral manganese. The following nutrition information is provided by the USDA.

  • Calories: 66
  • Fat: 0.9g
  • Sodium: 1.5mg
  • Carbohydrates: 15g
  • Fiber: 6.5g
  • Sugars: n/a
  • Protein: 1.3g
  • Vitamin C: 41.6mg
  • Vitamin A: 22.5mcg

Carbs
One cup of raw gooseberries contains 15 grams of carbohydrate and an ample dose of fiber (6.5 grams). Like all berries, gooseberries also contain naturally occurring sugar in an amount unspecified by the USDA.

Gooseberries have a low glycemic index of around 35. Adding sugar or syrup during preservation or jam-making, however, can quickly increase the glycemic index of gooseberries.

Fats
Like many varieties of fresh fruit, gooseberries are extremely low in fat, with less than 1 gram of fat per cup.

Protein
Gooseberries are not a major source of protein, containing only 1.3 grams of protein per cup.

Vitamins and Minerals
Despite their low calorie count, gooseberries pack in plenty of important vitamins and minerals. A one-cup serving of raw gooseberries contains at least half of the inflammation-fighting vitamin C you need in an entire day.

Gooseberries also provide vitamin A and manganese. Much like other berries, the colorful pigments in gooseberry skins offer cell-protecting antioxidants.

Like other berries, tangy gooseberries are high in fiber, plus vitamin C and other antioxidants. And like most fruits, they are low in calories, fat, and protein.

Health Benefits

Research investigating berries, including gooseberries, suggests that they are among the most nutritious and health-promoting foods.

Rich in antioxidants

Antioxidants are compounds that help fight the effects of free radicals. These are reactive molecules that cause cellular damage and lead to a process known as oxidative stress. Oxidative stress is associated with many diseases and premature aging.

Diets rich in antioxidants are thought to reduce your risk of certain types of cancer, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, aging, and protect your brain from degenerative disease.

Gooseberries are an excellent source of antioxidants, including vitamin C, small amounts of vitamin E, and phytonutrients.

Plants produce phytonutrients to keep healthy and protect against sun damage and insects.

Some of the phytonutrients in gooseberries include:

  • Flavonols. These are linked to heart health and may have stroke-reducing, cancer-fighting, and antiviral effects. The main types in gooseberries are quercetin, myricetin, kaempferol, and isorhamnetin.
  • Anthocyanins. These compounds are the colored pigments in fruit, and they’re associated with eye and urinary tract health, improved memory, healthy aging, and a lower risk of some cancers
  • Aromatic acids. In gooseberries, these include caffeic, chlorogenic, coumaric, hydroxybenzoic, and ellagic acid.
  • Organic acids. They’re responsible for the tart taste of fruit and may reduce your risk of stroke and Alzheimer’s disease

Reduces Risk of Heart Disease

Gooseberries are an excellent source of healthy fiber, with 6.5 grams per cup. Fiber intake, particularly soluble fiber (typically found in berries), is strongly associated with a reduced risk for heart disease. Fiber, along with the potassium in gooseberries, can help prevent cardiovascular morbidity and mortality.

May Help Prevent Some Cancers

Gooseberries contain several phytochemicals with anticancer properties. For instance, quercetin, a flavonoid found in Indian gooseberries, induces autophagy (programmed death of mutated cells). Quercetin also inhibits the growth signals sent by cancer cells.

Some of the tannins present in gooseberries, including ellagic acid, gallic acid, and chebulagic acid, provide strong antioxidant effects. Although there is not yet sufficient evidence on cancer treatment or prevention in human studies, further research is warranted.

May help control blood sugar

High blood sugar levels are linked to type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, dementia, and many other illnesses.

Gooseberries have several properties that may aid blood sugar control.

First, they’re high in fiber, which slows the absorption of sugar into your bloodstream, preventing spikes in blood sugar levels.

Furthermore, test-tube studies reveal that gooseberry extract is an alpha-glucosidase inhibitor. This means it binds to special enzymes in your small intestine, preventing them from moving sugar from your gut into your bloodstream.

Finally, gooseberries contain chlorogenic acid, which may slow carb absorption and help reduce blood sugar levels after starchy meals.

However, despite promising results, more research on gooseberries’ effect on blood sugar levels is needed.

Gooseberries are high in fiber and chlorogenic acid, which may help slow or prevent the absorption of sugar into your bloodstream, though more research is required.

Protects Against Ulcers

Gooseberries have long been used by naturopathic physicians to calm stomach acid. Modern studies appear to support the Ayurvedic use of gooseberries to better balance stomach acid and treat dyspepsia.

In rat studies, gooseberry extract has been shown to be protective against ulcers generated from excessive alcohol or aspirin use. Although more human studies are needed, this potential benefit of gooseberries comes with minimal risk.

Promotes Wound Healing

A cup of raw gooseberries provides about 42 milligrams of vitamin C, which is a significant portion of the 75 to 90 milligrams per day required for most adults. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant and an essential precursor to collagen (necessary for skin integrity).

For these reasons, vitamin C plays a crucial role in wound healing. In addition to vitamin C, the zinc and vitamin E in gooseberries also support the body’s natural ability to repair itself.

May protect your brain

Certain degenerative brain diseases are linked to an overload of iron in the cells.

Iron levels that are too high can spur the creation of free radicals, which are molecules that damage your cells. Your brain cells are particularly high in iron, making them more vulnerable to damage.

Gooseberries are a natural source of organic acids, providing 11–14 mg of citric acid in 100 mg of fruit. Citric acid blocks the accumulation of iron in cells and has been found to reduce the risk of diseases like Alzheimer’s and stroke if consumed regularly.

The antioxidants and phytonutrients in gooseberries are also believed to benefit age-related diseases of the brain and reduce your risk of stroke. Still, more research is needed

Gooseberries are rich in citric acid, phenols, and antioxidants, which are linked to a reduced risk of age-related brain diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and stroke.

Easy to add to your diet

Gooseberries are best enjoyed fresh and can be eaten on their own or added to cereal, yogurt, salads, or a variety of other dishes. Cooked gooseberries may not have the same health benefits, as some of the nutrients will be destroyed.

For maximum health benefits, it’s best to enjoy gooseberries raw.

Their flavor ranges from quite sour to relatively sweet, a little bit like slightly underripe grapes. The riper the fruit, the sweeter it becomes.

Some gooseberries are very tart, so if you want to eat them fresh look for sweeter varieties, such as Whinham’s Industry, Captivator, or Martlet.

Before eating the berries, you should wash and prepare them. Most people prefer to chop the very bottom and top off the berry, as it can taste a little woody.

Once prepared, you can eat gooseberries as a healthy snack on their own. Alternatively, add them to a fruit salad, use them as a topping on cereal or yogurt, or mix them into a fresh summer salad.

Gooseberries are also used in cooked and baked dishes, such as pies, tarts, chutneys, compote, jams, and cordial. However, keep in mind that these dishes often contain sugar, and cooking destroys a lot of the antioxidants and beneficial phytonutrients.

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Allergies

Gooseberries are not a common allergen, but it is possible to develop allergies to any type of food at any age. Reactions may happen immediately after contact with the offending food or several hours later. Common food allergy symptoms include stuffy nose, hives, vomiting, diarrhea, or wheezing. If you suspect an allergy to gooseberries, see your physician for a full evaluation.

Varieties

Gooseberries come in green, yellow, or reddish-purple varieties. Common cultivars are either American or European (or a mix of both). Invicta is a European cultivar with large, bland fruit that is very popular. The Captivator is an American-European hybrid with tear-drop shaped red fruit.

Gooseberries can be found fresh or preserved. For preserved varieties like dried, canned, and gooseberry jam, check out online retailers, farmers’ markets, or gourmet food stores. It’s important to note, however, that many gooseberry products contain added sugars (up to 12g sugar per tablespoon of gooseberry preserves).

When It’s Best

Gooseberries start to ripen in June and July but it can take a bit longer before the berries drop and are ready to be picked. For fresh berries, check farmers’ markets in the warm weather months. Some vendors may also sell gooseberry pies and jams during the height of the season.

You will occasionally find both fresh and canned gooseberries at your local grocery store, but since they are highly perishable, fresh gooseberries aren’t always available. If purchasing canned gooseberries, note that many are canned in sugar syrup.

Storage and Food Safety

Store fresh gooseberries in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 weeks, or try freezing them. For best results, remove stems, wash, and dry well. Place cleaned and dried gooseberries on a cookie sheet in a single layer and place in the freezer until hardened. Once gooseberries are frozen, transfer to resealable plastic bags (or another freezer-safe container) and store in the freezer for up to 2 years.

This method takes a little more time but will prevent the delicate berries from getting squashed and stuck together when freezing. There is no need to defrost frozen gooseberries before use. Simply add them to recipes that require them to be cooked, such as pie fillings, jams, and sauces, or enjoy frozen.

How to Prepare

To make gooseberry jam, you’ll need 6 cups of gooseberries, 1 1/2 cups of water, and 4 cups of sugar. Wash the berries, and bring them to a boil in a saucepan with water. Turn down the heat and simmer for about 15 minutes, until the berries are soft. Remove 4 cups of simmered gooseberries to mix with the sugar. Boil for 7 to 9 minutes.

For a savory sauce, cook down gooseberries with fresh thyme, black pepper, minced garlic, and a splash of vinegar. Pair fresh gooseberries with healthy fats, like nuts and seeds. Dried gooseberries are a little harder to find but available via many online retailers. Add to trail mix with almonds and pumpkin seeds.

The bottom line

Gooseberries are nutritious, low-calorie fruits that are rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.

Though research on gooseberries specifically is limited, many of the nutrients in these berries have been linked to significant health benefits.

These include lower blood sugar, cholesterol, and blood pressure levels, as well as a reduced risk of cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and age-related illnesses of the brain.

Gooseberries are a wonderful, healthy fruit to include in your diet as a snack or flavorful addition to meals.

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