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The Thing About Cape Gooseberries

Beverley has a degree in Science and additional certifications in nutrition and aromatherapy. She's published on and offline.

Cape Gooseberries in calyx

Cape Gooseberries in calyx

Have you ever tried cape gooseberries? Goldenberries? How about ground cherries? They’re all the same. You could mistake them for bright yellow cherry tomatoes. In fact, like tomatoes, they’re part of the nightshade or Solanaceae plant family. Botanically, cape gooseberry is called Physalis peruviana L. Other common names beside those already mentioned, include Peruvian ground cherry, husk cherry, capuli (Peru, Chile, Bolivia), uvilla (Ecuador, Colombia), cereza del Peru (Mexico), teparee (Philippines), poha (Hawaii) and ras bhari (India) (x).

These little fleshy fruits have an interesting flavor: sweet, tangy and sort of tomato-y. Maybe pineapple-y? And a bit sticky to touch. Why call them gooseberries? Reports are that the English thought they resembled their own version of the fruit (x).

The cape gooseberry is embraced by both the food and herbal supplement industries. The latter is due to its dense nutritional profile. It has more antioxidants than broccoli and pomegranates (x). And offers lots of potential health benefits.

Physalis peruviana - Goldenberry (cape gooseberry) plant

Physalis peruviana - Goldenberry (cape gooseberry) plant

Brief History of the Cape Gooseberry

Word is cape gooseberries are indigenous to Andean region of Peru and Chile. Prior to 1807, the English transported them to the Cape of Good Hope, South Africa and then to Australia. Documents indicate that the berries were also growing widely along the roadsides of the Caribbean island of Jamaica in the early 1900s. Around 1952, cape gooseberry jam was sold in United States markets, South Florida to be exact. Today the perennial-annual (depends on where it’s grown) plant is found in tropical, subtropical regions around the world. It’s one of Colombia’s top exported fruit, though mainly to European countries (x), (x).

One cape gooseberry plant can yield as much as 300 fruits. They develop in clusters, and each berry is enclosed in a fuzzy protective husk or calyx. If stored under dry conditions, they last for several months (x). Researchers are feverishly working to cultivate disease-resistant plants, since they’re easily damaged by fungi and contaminated soil (x).

Nutritional Profile of Cape Gooseberries

What are the nutrients in cape gooseberry? Besides beta-carotene, lutein, lycopene and other antioxidant phenolic compounds, cape gooseberries are loaded with dietary fiber, vitamins A, B1, B2, B3 and C, minerals calcium, iron and phosphorus. Calories and fat content are also low: 4% DV (daily value) and 2% DV per one cup/ 140 grams, respectively (x), (x).

Health Benefits of Cape Gooseberry

What is the efficacy of the goldenberry? How can this unique little berry help us? Research tells us it has the potential to provide anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and anticarcinogenic properties, promote a strong immune system, maintain blood pressure levels, blood sugar/ glucose levels, promote weight loss, treat or prevent digestive issues, promote healthy vision, treat liver injury and chronic diseases.

There’s no medical evidence to support cape gooseberry curing, treating or preventing disease in humans. Much more research is needed. Consult your healthcare provider before consuming any product for health purposes.

Anti-Inflammatory and Antioxidant Properties of Cape Gooseberry

In vivo animal studies suggest that ground cherry husks may help treat inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Rats treated with cape gooseberry extract showed improvement from colitis, an IBD ailment (x). Research indicate the anti-inflammatory qualities may also help treat pulmonary inflammation, which is symptomatic of chronic diseases such as asthma (x).

In many of our critical diseases, cell inflammation and oxidative issues go hand-in-hand. So, it’s no surprise that cape gooseberry antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties may also impede tumors. Free radicals cause oxidative stress in cells, which often leads to serious damage. We develop diseases such as cancer. The berry’s phytochemicals may offer free radical protection. In vitro research using cape gooseberry extract to treat liver, colon and breast cancer cells show promising results (x), (x), (x), (x).

Bright yellow cape gooseberries

Bright yellow cape gooseberries

May Strengthen the Immune System

The anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties of vitamin C have been researched extensively. Most of the results have been good (x). One online report stated that one cup of cape gooseberries has 26% DV of vitamin C (x). The polyphenols may also help boost our immunity (x).

May Maintain Blood Pressure Levels

Cape gooseberry may offer the potential to maintain our blood pressure level by keeping it low. This is important for our heart health as well. The carotenoids and polyphenols may be the compounds responsible for these benefits, according to research (x).

May Maintain Blood Glucose Levels

Can goldenberries lower the risk of diabetes? Studies show that the dietary fiber may help increase metabolism and good bowel movements. One cup of cape gooseberries has 6 grams of dietary fiber (x), (x). The risk of hyperglycemia and hypertension, often related to type 2 diabetes, may be decreased by consuming the berry (x).

Cape Gooseberries

Cape Gooseberries

May Promote Weight Loss

The same properties that show potential in maintaining blood pressure and blood sugar levels, may also aid in weight loss. Studies show dietary fiber slows down food nutrient absorption to improve satiety, and bulk up waste material, which moves it through our digestive system. The fiber in ground cherry’s pectin, seems adequate enough to promote these functions. The low fat and calorie content also help (x), (x).

May Prevent Digestive Diseases

Since the dietary fiber in cape gooseberry may help facilitate ease of waste material through the colon, it may lower the risk of digestive issues (x).

May Promote Healthy Vision

Cape gooseberries have rich veins of vitamin A, mineral iron and carotenoid compounds such as lutein, lycopene and zeaxanthin. All necessary for good eyesight. In aging adults, macular degeneration and other ocular diseases are common. Research show potential benefits of these nutrients regarding eye health (x), (x), (x), (x).

May Help Treat Liver Injury and Diseases

After being fed extracts of cape gooseberry juice, rats with liver damage showed improvement and lack of hepatotoxicity. Th scientists determined that gooseberry’s polyphenolic compounds, including the catechins and flavonoids may have helped (x).

Side Effects & Safety Concerns

Like other members of the nightshade plant family, cape gooseberries contain the toxic chemical compound solanine, known for causing stomach issues (x), (x). Eating unripe berries and overconsumption also cause harm (x). And as with any other food or product, there can be allergic reactions: nasal congestion, runny nose, itchy and watery eyes, sneezing, hives and even life-threatening anaphylaxis. Again, always consult your healthcare provider before consuming any product, especially for health purposes.

Indian gooseberries & other varieties

Indian gooseberries & other varieties

How to Prepare and Eat Goldenberries - aka Peruvian Ground Cherries

How is Cape Gooseberry Consumed?

The delicate little fruits can be eaten fresh once ripe. Simply remove the calyx, if still enclosed. They may also be made into smoothies, added to salads, yogurt, cereal, in preserves or used as ingredients in desserts.

Golden Berries Cheese Cake

Consuming Cape Gooseberries

Cape Gooseberry Vs. Indian Gooseberry

Is cape gooseberry the same as Indian gooseberry? No. Indian gooseberry known commonly as amla, amla berry, aonla and botanically Phyllanthus emblica, is a variety of gooseberry. It’s native to India, the Middle East and parts of Southeast Asia (x). Ripe berries resemble grapes. They’re light green, light greenish-yellow, white, pink or red in color with six vertical lines. Ripe cape gooseberries are bright or golden yellow. They also grow in clusters, but their flavor is tart, tangy and bitter. Indian gooseberries have been used for medicinal purposes for centuries. Some of their bioactive compounds are similar to cape gooseberry’s and may offer some of the same health benefits (x).

Cape Goose Berry Punch/ Golden Berry/ Rasbhari (Mocktail)

Summary

What’s the thing about cape gooseberries? They’re unique in taste, but loaded with super nutrients that may provide a number of important health benefits. Worth the try. You may grow to love them as I did.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2020 Beverley Byer

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