When dieting, some herbal type supplements can be helpful. There are many supplements that claim to reduce appetite, burn fat quicker and fill your stomach, but with all things, buyer beware. Huge claims get made and huge volumes of these products get sold but their efficacy can be quite questionable.

Dieters may like to consider trying chyawanaprash. This is not going to help you burn fat quicker, not will it affect your appetite. This is not a weight loss product.

But it is a tried and tested herbal remedy that is huge in the Indian subcontinent. Over there it is taken daily as a health supplement.

So what is it? Well, it comes in jars and looks like a thick tarry jam. It's sweet, sour, spicy, gooey and rather strange if you are unfamiliar with it.

The principle ingredient is the Indian gooseberry (called "amla"), favoured for it's high vitamin C content.

Different brands of chyawanaprash have variations in the exact recipe, but the overall theme is constant. Chief constituents are:

bamboo manna
blue Egyptian water lily
chebulic myrobalan
Chinese cinnamon
cinnamon bark
Indian rose chestnut
country mallow
feather foll plant (or Bhumiamalaki)
Giant potato (Ipomoea mauritiana or Kiribadu Ala)
Indian kudzu
Irish root
Long pepper (Piper longum)
Malabar nut (Seed of Adhatoda vasica)
nut grass
Potassium sorbate
Round zedoary
sesame oil
Spreading hogweed (Boerhavia diffussa)
Tiger's claw or Ice plant
Wild black gram
Wild green gram
Winter cherry (or Ashwaghanda)

There is no doubt that the main beneficial effect from chyawanaprash is due to the vitamin C content but there is a suggestion that the mix of plants and herbs in the mixture supplies some valuable micro-nutrients. The mixture is also excellent in aiding digestion and preventing constipation.

Most Indian food shops stock chyawanaprash, or will undoubtedly be able to get it for you.

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