Soft and fleshy outside, sweet and sour inside, rasbhari packs a flavourful punch that makes you fall in love almost instantly. Belonging to the family, Solanaceae, this orange-yellow berry looks like a small tomato wrapped in a thin papery sheet but has a distinct tartness that is hard to miss.

Originating in Peru and Ecuador, this fruit has travelled the whole world, gaining a fan following in almost every continent. Bet you did not know the rasbhari you enjoy in your salads is actually an exotic fruit?

What's more, this small fruit is equipped with an arsenal of immunity-building nutrients including vitamin C and antioxidants. Adding a few goldenberries would not only make your meal more vibrant but also impart some of that shine to your skin and face, leaving you with a fresh and vibrant looking skin.

Thinking about adding goldenberries to your diet yet? Read on to know some evidence-based facts that are bound to make this juicy and crunchy fruit more palatable to you.

Some basic facts about rasbhari:

  • Botanical name: Physalis peruviana
  • Family: Solanaceae
  • Common name: Rasabhari, Cape gooseberry, Golden berry, Peruvian cherry, Groundberry
  • Native region and geographical distribution: Groundberry is a native to America, specifically Peru and Ecuador. It also grows in India, Australia, West Indies, Malaysia and China.
  1. Cape gooseberry (Physalis peruviana) nutrition facts
  2. Cape gooseberry (rasbhari) health benefits
  3. Cape gooseberry uses
  4. Cape gooseberry (goldenberry) side effects

Rasbhari is low fat, low protein fruit that hosts a good amount of carbohydrates and fibre. It contains a good amount of water and a variety of vitamins and minerals which add up to make it a perfect functional fruit.

As per the USDA database, 100g of raw groundcherries contain the following values:

Nutrient Value per 100g
Carbohydrate 15.68g
Water 119.56g
Energy 74kcal
Fibre 4g
Fats 0.98g
Protein 2.66g
Minerals  
Calcium 13mg
Phosphorus 56mg
Iron 1.40mg
Vitamins  
Vitamin C 15.4mg
Vitamin A 50µg
Vitamin B3 3.920mg
Vitamin B1 0.154mg

Loaded with various nutrients and bioactive compounds, rasbhari provides you with an array of health benefits. Though it is extensively studied for its antioxidant and anticancer properties, the vitamins and minerals present in rasbhari provide it with healing and health-building properties. Let us explore some of these health benefits of rasbhari.

Cape gooseberry for immunity

Rasbhari contains 15.4mg of vitamin C per 100g, which makes up for about 17% of your daily requirement. Most of us are well aware of the fact that vitamin C is an excellent immunity booster. Immune system cells need vitamin C to function properly and its deficiency has been found to be associated with a weak immune system. 

In vitro (lab-based) studies suggest that the bioactive components present in goldenberry extracts modulate the immune system and boost its function.

Furthermore, the antioxidants present in rasbhari fruits help to reduce oxidative stress, which, in turn, improves the efficiency of the immune system.

(Read more: Immunity boosting foods)

Rasbhari (goldenberry) for diabetes

Diabetes or hyperglycemia (high blood sugar) is a condition characterised by the inability of the body to properly process complex carbohydrates. Diabetics constantly keep on looking for healthier foods that can help manage their blood glucose levels. If you are suffering from hyperglycemia, rasbhari may just be the fruit for you.

Rasbhari is known to be an effective anti-diabetic in Traditional Peruvian medicine and preclinical studies demonstrate the anti-diabetic potential of Physalis fruit and leaves. As per the findings of these studies, groundberry extracts not only improve insulin sensitivity but also increases the levels of insulin in the body, thereby leading to lower blood sugar levels.

According to a recent study in Columbia, Physalis inhibits the action of carbohydrate-digesting enzymes in the intestines, thereby slowing down the release of glucose into the blood.

However, due to the absence of clinical studies, it is best that you talk to your doctor to know more about the safety and use of rasbhari in case of diabetes.

Goldenberry (rasbhari) benefits for stomach

Rasbhari contains a good amount of dietary fibre, especially pectin, which forms a gel inside your gut and improve satiety. This means you won’t be munching on unhealthy food and would feel full between meals.

Clinical studies suggest that pectin increases the colon transit time (time taken by food to pass through your intestine) and reduces constipation. By improving the gut microflora, it helps enhance the process of digestion and reduces intestinal inflammation. Animal-based studies have demonstrated positive effects of the anti-inflammatory activity of cape gooseberry on Inflammatory bowel disease symptoms. It is suggested that rasbhari exhibits anti-inflammatory activity by inhibiting the production and release of certain inflammatory cytokines.

Since inflammation and constipation are two of the primary risk factors for piles, it won’t be wrong to say that rasbhari may help relieve piles symptoms.

(Read more: How to improve digestion)

Cape gooseberry for weight loss

Did you know you can lose weight while enjoying a juicy rasbhari? Well, maybe not as quickly because you also didn’t put all those extra kilos instantly, so, it might as well take some time and effort. But, these golden berries may certainly assist you in your weight loss regime. You may ask how?

Well, first, it enhances the process of digestion by improving your gut microflora and reducing gastrointestinal problems like constipation and IBS and we all know a healthy gut plays a vital role in managing a healthy weight. Fibre also helps in reducing excessive cholesterol from your body while vitamin C hastens the metabolic processes in your body. A better metabolism means your body is processing nutrients quickly and handling energy better. 

(Read more: How to improve metabolism)

Furthermore, these fluid-filled berries improve circulation, prevent dehydration and promote diuresis (expulsion of excess water and hence toxins through kidneys). Lesser toxins mean less oxidative stress and better-functioning organs. Antioxidants and oxidative stress are also known to cause obesity. By reducing free radical damage, rasbhari promotes weight loss and helps in melting away fat deposits from your tissues.

So, what are you waiting for?

(Read more: Diet chart for weight loss)

Goldenberry benefits for heart

A healthy heart is a key to a healthy body. Maintaining heart health remains one of the top priorities of most of the health conscious people of every age. And rasbhari can help you achieve that with more ease than you can imagine. Let us explore some of the properties of rasbhari that can aid you in maintaining and improving heart health.

  • Rasbhari contains a good amount of potassium, which facilitates blood pressure reduction in hypertensive and healthy individuals. This is because of the balancing effects of potassium on the sodium-potassium channels. Additionally, potassium depletion or deficiency in the body has been found to be associated with arrhythmia. By providing this mineral in the diet, rasbhari may be helpful in avoiding these irregularities in the heartbeat. (Read more: High blood pressure treatment)
  • Hosting a variety of flavonoids, goldenberry is known to be an excellent cardioprotective agent. These flavonoids have been found to reduce inflammation in blood vessels and heart along with facilitating blood pressure reduction. Quercetin, a specific flavonoid present in rasbhari reduces blood clotting inside arteries, thereby, preventing stroke and heart attack.
  • High cholesterol is one of the major risk factors for heart diseases, the extra fat deposit inside blood vessel walls and lipid peroxidation leads to the formation of plaques. Goldenberries avoid atherosclerosis and plaque development at two levels. Being a pectin-rich food, it ensures the expulsion of extra cholesterol from the body and the antioxidants present in this fruit prevent lipid peroxidation. Inhibition of peroxidation would avoid plaque formation.

Goldenberry for eyes

Apart from being rich in vitamin C, rasbhari also hosts a sufficient amount of vitamin A. Both these vitamins have a crucial role in maintaining eye health and function. Dietary vitamin A is known to improve vision and avoid night blindness while vitamin C is required to keep up the structural integrity of blood vessels in your eyes.

Furthermore, lutein and zeaxanthin pigments present in rasbhari help prevent blue light damage to the eye along with reducing the risk of age-related macular degeneration and cataract. This is partly because of the antioxidant activity of these pigments and partly because they make up the macula, the yellow spot in your eye, that is responsible for the clarity of your vision.

Traditionally, cape gooseberry is used for the treatment of non-cancerous growths in the cornea, known as pterygium. Animal-based studies have found this claim to be true and have attributed it to the fibroblast inhibition mediated by rasbhari juice.

However, extensive human-based studies are required to confirm the benefits of rasbhari fruit for eye health.

(Read more: How to improve eyesight

Cape gooseberry for bones

Being a reservoir for minerals like calcium and phosphorus, rasbhari is an excellent food for your bones. While calcium is needed to maintain the structural integrity of your skeletal system, it cannot be done without the addition of phosphorus. According to an article published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, calcium and phosphorus make up for maintaining bone health. Your bones contain 99% of total body calcium and about 80% of total phosphorus. These minerals not only facilitate osteocyte (bone cell) formation but also their maturation. Lack of either of these minerals increases the risk of weak bones and fractures.

The anti-inflammatory and free radical scavenging activity of rasbhari may be helpful in reducing joint pain and arthritis.

Osteoporosis is yet another condition that is caused due to the lack of calcium. Risk of calcium deficiency is especially high in postmenopausal women who are then suggested calcium supplements to mitigate the condition. However, research evidence indicates that taking calcium supplements without adequate dietary phosphorus intake may not be helpful in preventing osteoporosis. Phosphorus is needed to maintain bone formation processes along with calcium. Calcium, when taken in the form of supplements, binds all the phosphorus in your body, making it unavailable for your bones. So balancing both these nutrients is essential for optimal bone health. Though this depends on individual body type, condition, environment and diet, including rasbhari in your diet may be helpful due to the inlusion of the two. However, it is advisable that you talk to your doctor to know more about the calcium-phosphorus balance and ways to achieve it.

Goldenberry benefits for skin

Skincare makes an important part of your overall health and hygiene. Apart from cosmetics and beauty care products, a balanced diet, complete with healthy fruits, plays an important role in achieving a glowing and fresh looking skin. Rasbhari is one such fruit. It is packed with several components that facilitate skin rejuvenation and help you defy ageing.

First, it is rich in vitamin C, which is a boon for your skin. It protects your skin from the harmful effects of UV radiations and also prevents hyperpigmentation. Playing an important part in collagen synthesis, vitamin C ensures skin tightening while at the same time reducing wrinkles and loose skin. Finally, as an anti-inflammatory agent, it is useful in preventing acne and other inflammatory conditions of the skin.

Lab studies indicate that an extract made from goldenberry fruit calyx (thin layer covering the fruit) improves total collagen production along with the production of elastin and fibrillin proteins that are essential for maintaining skin elasticity and structure.

Furthermore, vitamin C deficiency has been found to be associated with an increased risk of dermatitis. This may explain the traditional use of physalis fruit as a remedy for dermatitis.

You can reap all of these benefits either by adding goldenberries to your salads and meals or grinding some of these berries into your face mask.

(Read more: How to tighten face skin)

Other benefits of rasbhari (cape gooseberry)

Other than those mentioned above, rasbhari has some other benefits, which are:

  • Rasbhari is traditionally used as a sedative (calming and sleep-inducing) and analgesic (pain reliever).
  • Preclinical studies suggest that antioxidants present in rasbhari are effective in reversing and preventing liver damage and liver fibrosis. The flavonoids, quercetin and kaempferol have been found to be the active components responsible for this hepatoprotective activity (protects liver).
  • Extensive studies have been done on the anticancer potential of cape gooseberries. In vitro (Laboratory-based) and in vivo (animal-based) studies demonstrate that Physalis fruit arrests the growth of lung cancer. In another study, withanolides present in rasbhari fruit have been found to be toxic to prostate and kidney cancer cell lines. Studies conducted on ethanolic extracts of Physalis leaves and stems claim that they are more effective in inhibiting the growth of colorectal cancer than cisplatin, a commercial anticancer drug. (Read more: Cancer treatment)
  • Various compounds present in rasbhari have been found to be useful in preventing the growth of pathogenic microbes including Escherichia coli (causes gastrointestinal infections), Candida albicans (causes thrush) and Trichophyton (skin pathogenic fungi).

As varied are its health benefits, rasbhari use depends entirely on your imagination. Add it in recipes to replace tomatoes or chop them off into a green salad. You can also blend them coarsely to make a sweet and tangy chutney, or salsa or churn it up fine with other fruits to whip up a healthy fruit jam for your little ones.

Goldenberries make up a good desert along with some cream, and honey or you can bake them in a healthy fruit pie made from whole wheat flour.

So, wear that chef’s hat and cook your way to good health.

  • Unripe rasbhari could be poisonous since it contains solanine, a compound commonly found in every member of the Solanaceae family. It may cause symptoms like abdominal cramps and upset stomach. When taken in high amounts, solanine is known to be fatal. So, it is better to stay away from unripe goldenberries and opt for golden and ripe berries.
  • Due to lack of evidence, not much can be said about the safety of rasbahri consumption during pregnancy and nursing.
  • Though it helps in weight loss, rasbhari is a nutrient-rich food and adds up to your total calorie count. Avoid binging on these berries unless you are counting calories.
  • The hypoglycemic (reducing blood sugar) effects of rasbhari could add to the effects of diabetes medications, inducing severe hypoglycemia.
  • In fact, goldenberries have so many active compounds that it is bound to interfere with the functioning of prescribed medication. If you are on any kind of prescription medicine, it is recommended that you talk to your doctor before consuming this fruit.
  • Dried and packed goldenberries may have some added sugar or preservative, it is important that you check labels before making any purchase and wherever possible shop for the fresh fruit.
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References

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