Cape gooseberries are small delicious tropical fruits that can be grown even in a kitchen garden. From its name Cape, it was first grown in Cape of Good hope in South Africa. These orange berries are highly nutritious with a variety of health benefits. Around the world cape gooseberries have interesting unique names e.g ground cherries, pygmy ground cherry, Physalis peruviana, golden strawberry, pearly round yolkimabobs, Inca berry among others.
Cape gooseberry is indeed an edible natural herb that is used in fruit salads, drinks, as well as in desert with apple and honey. Gooseberries are popular in the western hemisphere and other areas.
They contain polyphenols, calcium, phosphorous, carotenoids, withanolides, melatonin, iron, potassium, fiber , protein, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pectin, Vitamin A and Vitamin C.
The following are some of the health benefits of Cape gooseberry – anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, purgative, anti-cancer, taxative, diuretic, antihepatotoxic among others.
Nutritional value of cape gooseberries.
- Calories 74.2
- Energy (53kcal)
- Carbohydrates (11.2g)- 12.06% of DV
- Fat (0.7g)- 2.08% of DV
- Protein (1.9g)- 5.32% of DV
- Vitamin A (36 μg)- 7.14% of DV
- Vitamin B1(0.11 mg)- 12.83% of DV
- Vitamin B2 (0.04mg)- 4.31% of DV
- Vitamin B3 (2.8mg)-24.50% of DV
- Vitamin C(11mg)- 17.11% of DV
- Calcium (9mg)- 1.30% of DV
- Iron (1mg)- 17.50% of DV
- Phosphorous (40mg)- 8.00% of DV
- The fruit is also rich in pectin and has adequate amount of polyphenols, withanolides, melatonin and carotenoids.
NOTE: DV- Daily Value
The Cape gooseberry is widely used in traditional Colombian medicine as an antidiabetic treatment. A research done identified the compounds responsible for the hypoglycemic activity .This study established the potential of sucrose esters as α-amylase inhibitors and to explain the hypoglycemic effect that has traditionally been attributed to gooseberry fruit. These berries have been shown to provide significant health benefits because of their high antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and fiber (Zhao, 2007).
Here are 8 Health benefits of Cape gooseberries (physalis peruviana).
1. Anti- inflammation: Considering the fact that Cape gooseberry have polyphenols and antioxidants, they are used for many medical uses such as anti asthmatic, anti helmenthic, anti spasmodic, anti septic, anti inflammatory, purgative, laxative and good for stomach related disorders.
These antioxidants fight with the free radicals in our body and stabilizes them. This prevents them from causing oxidative damage to our cells. Free radicals(the unstabilized ions that get formed during the oxidation process in our body) steals electrons from the neighboring molecules thus preventing our cells from the oxidative damage. It also reduces the risks of different types of cancers like skin cancer, colon cancer, stomach cancers among others. This is one unique Cape gooseberry health benefit that you should always remember.
2. Improves eye health: Another Cape fruit benefit is that it’s a great option for your eyes. Thanks to the high amounts of carotenoids they contain, they are perfect for a superb eyesight and the overall health of your eyes.
Carotenoids gets rid of oxidative stress on the ocular system, preventing the development of cataracts and slowing the onset of macular degeneration, keeping your vision in top working order as you age.
3. Boost immunity: Cape gooseberries have much more vitamin C than citrus fruit! Not only does vitamin C help improve your skin’s health, it also helps boost your immunity. It is said to meet 18% of the vitamin C requirements and further improve immunity. The high amounts of vitamin C in ground cherries boosts your immunity keeping diseases and infections at bay. Eating them on a daily basis will reduce your frequent visits to hospital.
Remember, Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that enhances the natural defenses of your body.
4. Can manage Diabetes: Fructose is a soluble fiber found in ground cherries which can prove beneficial to patients with diabetes. They can help lower blood sugar level. This physalis peruviana health benefit is because of its low glycemic index. This means it releases sugar into the bloodstream at a slower rate, and thus prevents a sudden spike in the blood sugar level.
Additionally, the dietary fibers present in them slows down the rate at which sugar gets absorbed into the bloodstream and thus helps in managing diabetes.
NOTE: Eating a lot of golden berries may lower the blood sugar to a dangerously low level, and this may increase the risk of hypoglycemia.
5. Keeping digestive system healthy: Another Cape gooseberry fruit benefit to put in mind is that it contains high soluble fibers that can help in improving your digestive system. In addition, including this fruit in your diet can help prevent stomach problems such as constipation.
Dietary fibers present in the Cape gooseberries act as a natural laxative. Besides that, your bowel movements are also enhanced by the fiber. This means it improves bowel movements and ensures smooth elimination of waste from our body. This not only provides relief from constipation but it is also beneficial for treating digestive problems like irritable bowel syndrome, flatulence, abdominal pain, indigestion, etc.
NOTE: It’s best to eat them in moderation since over consumption of dietary fibers may bring problems like malabsorption, intestinal blockage indigestion,intestinal gas etc.
6. High Blood Pressure(Hbp) Management: Eating cape gooseberries regularly has been found to be very beneficial for people with high blood pressure or hypertension. Hbp is a major health concern that affects millions of people around the globe, and is also a leading cause of various cardiovascular problems like heart attack, irregular heartbeat, heart stroke etc.
They are effective in treating hypertension because of the presence of “Potassium” in it. Potassium is an important mineral that acts as a natural vasodilator. This means that it relaxes our blood vessels, improves blood circulation, and thus helps in controlling high blood pressure.
NOTE: It is advisable to eat them moderately. This is because too much potassium in our body may lower your blood pressure to a dangerously low level, and this may increase the risk of hypotension.
7. Healthy Weight gain: Consuming 100 grams of physalis peruviana provides around 53 calories of energy, which means one can enjoy eating them without worrying about excess calories.
However, put in mind that golden berries are not completely calorie free and if you consume them in excessive quantity for a prolonged period of time, then these calories can quickly add up. And, if you are already taking enough calories through your diet to meet your calorie intake, then eating too many golden berries may lead to weight gain.
8.Increases Bone strength – Because of the availability of Calcium, Vitamin C, and Phosphorus, these golden berries help in improving bone strength. Therefore, you need to add these berries into your diet if your bones are weak. Also, eating these will help in preventing skin disorders such as dermatitis.
How to eat Cape gooseberries.
Are Cape gooseberries good for you? I also asked myself the same question. I grew up knowing they are just fruits to entertain children. Well how can you add physalis health benefits to your diet?
- You can choose to dip the fruits in chocolate or other coatings or pricked and rolled in sugar.
- Fruit Salads: Fruits can be eaten raw in fruit salads, fruit cocktails, in cooked dishes or processed into jams or even canned whole in syrup or as juice.
- Dessert: Fruits are stewed with honey and eaten as dessert in Colombia.
- Raisins: Cape gooseberries can also be dried into tasty “raisins”.
- In Britain their husk is used as a handle for dipping the fruit in icing.
- Pies and puddings: The berries are great for snacks as well as for making puddings, pies, jellies, ice cream, sauces, jams, preserves, chutneys and glazes for meat and seafood.
Traditional uses of Cape gooseberries around the world.
- It is also a common medicinal herb in India, used by Muthuvan tribes living in the Shola forest regions against jaundice.
- Cape gooseberries is traditionally used in folk medicine for dealing with diseases like hepatitis, dermatitis, malaria, rheumatism, dermatitis, malaria, asthma, and leukemia.
- Heated leaves are applied as a medical dressing on inflammations in South Africa.
- In Colombia,leaf decoction is taken as a diuretic and an antiasthmatic.
- To relieve abdominal pains in children, Zulus of South Africa administer the leaf infusion as an enema.
How to store cape gooseberries.
Cape gooseberries are fruits that last long. You can store the fresh fruits in a scaled container and keep in a dry environment for several months. They will remain in good condition. If you intend to ship the fresh fruits, it is best to leave the husks on for protection.
Keep unwashed cape gooseberries in the refrigerator for 5-7 days. Always rinse them before use.
Growing cape gooseberries in your kitchen garden.
You can grow Cape Gooseberry in the same way as tomato seeds in your kitchen garden. In cold areas, Cape Gooseberries can be grown all year round and they grow the best fruit in winter just before mid-spring.
During summer, cape gooseberries need an adequate water supply to produce fruit. This is because their feeding roots are very close to the soil surface so a good layer of mulch is important to keep the soil moist.
Cape gooseberry is better planted with low-fertility soil for it to yield more fruit, as it is likely to yield useless vegetation in high-fertility soil. Since it’s adapted to most forms of soil and grows almost everywhere, it can also do well in sand or gravel.
If you are deficient of space you can grow your Cape Gooseberries in a large pot.
Simple Cape gooseberry recipes.
Cape gooseberry Salad
- 1/2 Cup fresh Cape Gooseberries
- 1/2 Cup Cherry tomatoes
- 1/2 Cup shredded Lettuce
- 1/4 Cup Pomegranate Seeds
- 1/4 Cup sliced Strawberries
- 1 Tbsp Lemon Juice
- 2 Tbsp Olive Oil
- Wash and slice cape gooseberries, cherry tomatoes and strawberries into halves.
- Put all the ingredients in a large bowl.
- Add olive oil and lemon juice and mix.
- Toss the salad and serve.
Cape gooseberry vanilla cake
- 100 grams melted unsalted butter (plus extra for greasing pan)
- 165 grams self raising flour
- Small pinch of salt
- 2 eggs , beaten
- 100 grams castor sugar
- 1 ½ Tablespoons white wine
- 1 ½ tsps vanilla essence
- 100 grams cape gooseberries , tops cut off
- Icing sugar for dredging
- Pre – heat your oven to 180°c. Grease your baking pan and parchment paper with butter.
- Sift flour, baking powder, salt together in a medium sized bowl.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the cooled melted butter, beaten eggs and sugar. Using an electric mixer, mix your ingredients to give it a fine quick mix (just a few seconds).
- Then add white wine, vanilla, nutmeg and give it another quick mix.
- Add in the dry ingredients little by little in 2 – 3 batches and fold in with each addition.
- Pour half the cake batter into the greased tin and arrange gooseberries on the batter. Pour the remaining batter on top of the gooseberries.
- Bake in the pre-heated oven for about 40 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean.
- Remove from the oven and allow the cake to cool in the cake pan for around 10 minutes before placing it on a wire rack to cool further.
- Dredge with icing sugar before serving.
Cape gooseberry cocktail.
- 2 cups cape gooseberries & a few extra, to garnish
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup orange juice
- 1 cup mango juice
- ½ cup sugar (Castor)
- 2 cups soda water
- Lemon slices for garnishing
- fresh mint leaves for garnishing
- ½ cup white rum ( optional)
- Place a medium sized pot over medium high heat and bring the gooseberries, water and sugar to the boil.
- Cook the mixture for 5-10 minutes until the sugar dissolves and the gooseberries are soft.
- Remove from heat and let it cool.
- Pour the mixture in a blender, add the orange and mango juice and blitz until smooth.
- Strain out the solids and discard.
- Chill the juice for about 1 hour
- Divide the juice among glasses, add the rum(optional) and top with the soda water.
- Garnish with the extra gooseberries, lemon slices and mint leaves.
Cape gooseberries benefits may be unique, but one has to watch carefully for these tasty berries. Unripe cape berries has alkaloids that can cause allergic reactions.
Their versatility gives you a wide range of ways to eat them. Make a point to include them in your diet.
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The information contained in the post is for general purpose only and shouldn’t be considered as medical advice or as an alternative to medical advice. Although I’ve tried my very best to keep the information contained in this post as updated and accurate as possible, I make no guarantee of the accurateness of the same.