This year I sold physalis peruviana, or ground cherries, as it is more commonly known, at my local farmer’s markets. Most people had never heard of it before. I began to research it, and decided I had to make a blog post about this amazing fruit.

Ground cherries, also known as Cape gooseberry (South Africa), Inca berryAztec berryGolden berryGiant ground cherryPeruvian groundcherryPeruvian cherryPok pok (Madagascar), Poha (Hawaii), Ras bhari (India), Aguaymanto (Peru), Uvilla (Ecuador), Uchuva (Colombia), Harankash (Egypt) or (rarely) Physalis, are closely related to the tomatillo and chinese lantern, and more distantly, tomato, eggplant, potato, and other members of the nightshade family. Contrary to what the name implies, it is not related to the cherry or gooseberry family. It is grown all over the world in tropical,, subtropical, and temperate climates. Ground cherries are small, approzimately 1-2 cm in diameter, and are enclosed in a papery husk. When cut open, it looks similar to a tomato. It is sweet but slightly tart, and is said to taste similar to pineapple, strawberries, or citrus fruits, with an earthy undertone.

This fruit has amazing benefits for your health. It is high in vitamins A, C, thiamin, riboflavin, and niacin. The ripe fruits also have a concentration of beta-carotene. It also has significant amounts of calcium, iron, phosphorus, potassium, bioflavonoids, protein, and fiber.

Vitamin A

  • Great for vision

  • Helps immune and inflammatory systems to work correctly

  • Helps with normal cell growth and development

  • Essential for the reproductive systems

Vitamin C

  • Essential to the immune system

  • An antioxidant, which prevents damage or death of cells

  • A natural antihistamine (allergy relief)

  • Reduces chance of stroke
  • Protects against Parkinson's disease

Thiamin, also known as B1

  • Helps protect the nerves

  • Great for mental health

  • Essential to metabolism, especially with carbohydrates

  • Lowers chance of cataracts

Riboflavin, also known as B2

  • Necessary for iron metabolism

  • Prevents headaches/migraines

  • Maintains other B vitamins

Niacin, also known as B3

  • Raises HDL (good) cholesterol levels

  • Helps cardiac health

  • Good for treating depression, senility, and memory loss

  • Improves joint flexibilty and relieves pain and swelling due to arthritis

Vitamin B12, also known as cobalamin

  • Helps children to develop properly

  • Improves mental health; may even stop Alzheimer's disease , if caught early on

  • Greatly reduces risk of pernicious anemia

  • Helps with cell renewal, keeping you young and fresh

On top of all these wonderful vitamins, ground cherries only have 53 calories per 3.5 oz serving, and 1 gram of fat. Because of the large amount of fiber, eating ground cherries will help you to feel full faster, keeping you from overeating and therefore helping you lose weight. These wonderful berries have no sodium, and have a low glycemic index score. The high amount of pectin aids in absorbing calcium , which is necessary for strong bones. Ground cherries also do wonders for your cells, having anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties; it has been shown to inhibit cancer, particularly lung, colon, and liver varieties. It is also a diuretic (meaning it helps remove water and sodium through urine), and can be used to aid fluid retention and other such issues. In folk medicine, ground cherries have been used to treat asthma. dermatitis, hepatitis, malaria. and rheumatism .It has been found to have some melatonin, which helps improve and regulate sleep, prevents degenerative diseases, prevents migraines, and protects against reproductive organ cancers.

There are many ways to include this wonderful berry into your diet. It can be added to salads containing fruit or vegetables, canned, or made into a jam or sauce. Because of the high pectin content, it makes a wonderful pie or tart. They can also be dried and eaten like raisins. Add to ice cream, or crush and swirl in for an interesting flavor combination. To add sweetness, you may prick the skin and roll in sugar. You can also try making salsa, cake, or adding to your cereal. However, it is just as nice to eat them as is.