Tamarind is a flavorsome fruit that is loved around the world. From drinks to savory dishes, this sour fruit is used quite frequently. But hardly anyone knows that this tasty fruit carries immense health benefits as well. Today we are going to explore all the tiny details of tamarind. Let’s get started:
What is Tamarind and where does it come from?
Tamarind is the fruit of a hardwood tree known as Tamarindus indica. Tamarind fruit is a bean-shaped pod full of seeds that are surrounded by a fibrous pulp. When unripe, the pulp has a sour taste and is green in color while the pod is as hard as a shell. As the fruit ripens up, this juicy pulp attains a softer, paste-like texture, and the taste changes from sour to sweetly sour. The hard shell becomes cracky and seeds also harden and glossy brown.
The tamarind tree is a tropical tree native to Africa. Many people mistake it to be a native to India which is not true. It came from Africa to India thousands of years ago and soon became a major part of Indian cuisine and culture which led to the misconception. Today it grows in tropical regions like Pakistan, India, and America.
The name tamarind originates from a Persian word “tamar-i-hind” which in Hindi means “Indian date”. It is called by various names in various languages such as tamarinier des Indes and tamarinier in French, Italians call it “tamarandizio” while “tamarinde” is the name in German.
Some popular uses of Tamarind
Let’s take a look at some of the popular uses of tamarind:
- Medicinal: For centuries, tamarind has been a part of medicine. The leaves of the bark are used to heal wounds in traditional medicine. Tamarind drink has been used to treat digestive problems like diarrhea, constipation, nausea, vomiting, fever, constipation, and peptic ulcers. Moreover, it has also been found beneficial in losing weight, lowering blood sugar levels in diabetics, and protecting against diseases like cancer, heart disease, and diabetes.
- Cooking: The pulp of the fruit is a frequent and renowned part of cuisines in Central and South Asia, the Middle East, and the Caribbean. The most acclaimed use of tamarind is in sauces, dips, and marinades. The famous Worcester sauce also contains tamarind in it.
- Home: Tamarind is a source of tartaric acid which is used for various procedures in home cleaning.
Nutritional Profile of Tamarind
You will fall in love with the nutritional profile of tamarind. Here is what a 120g or a cup of tamarind pulp contains:
|Total Calories||287 kcals|
|Vitamin B3||12% of RDI|
|Vitamin B1||34% of RDI|
|Vitamin B2||11% of RDI|
|Iron||19% of RDI|
|Magnesium||28% of RDI|
|Calcium||9% of RDI|
|Phosphorous||14% of RDI|
|Potassium||19% of RDI|
Besides these, tamarind also contains trace amounts of certain nutrients like Vitamin B6, Vitamin K, Vitamin C, selenium, and copper.
Benefits of Tamarind
Tamarind is naturally packed with polyphenols and antioxidants besides the healthy nutrients. Before wasting any more time, let’s quickly jump on the amazing benefits of tamarind:
1. Heart Friendly Fruit: Tamarind has been categorized as a heart-friendly food by health experts around the world due to the several heart-friendly benefits. Tamarind comes naturally packed with polyphenols that have a cholesterol-lowering effect. A study was carried out which showed that tamarind fruit extract has the capacity to lower the amount of cholesterol, triglycerides as well as LDL. In addition to this, tamarind contains antioxidants which can lower down the oxidative damage that leads to heart problems. The pulp of the fruit when dried exert an antihypertensive effect. All of these qualities make it a beneficial fruit for the heart.
2. Management of Diabetes: Tamarind has the capacity to lower blood sugar levels. A study was carried out on severely diabetic rats in which they were fed tamarind. It was seen that the fruit neutralized the hyperglycemia in them. Tamarind, when consumed, inhibits the production of cells that could cause the inflammation of the pancreas which leads to diabetes. Not only this, the seeds of tamarind have the ability to promote the neogenesis of insulin-producing beta cells. This leads to a restoration of the ability of beta cells to produce optimum insulin which is an ability impaired in diabetics.
3. Antimicrobial Effect: Studies have proven the antimicrobial capacity of tamarind extract which includes anti-fungal, antibacterial as well as antiviral properties. This is the reason tamarind has been used to treat diseases like malaria, fevers, pneumonia, and typhoid, etc. Many people might not know this but tamarind also possesses antivenom properties and is widely used as a treatment for snake bites.
4. Aids in Digestion and Constipation: One of the popular uses of tamarind is as a laxative as it is rich in tartaric acid and malic acid. Moreover, it also contains potassium bitartrate that has constipation relieving effects. Stomach pain which often results from diarrhea or constipation or any other digestive system problem can be relieved by extracts from tamarind root and bark.
5. Weight Management: Tamarind reduces LDL (bad cholesterol) and increases HDL (good cholesterol) in the body. Also, tamarind extracts eliminated the activity of Fatty acid Synthase (FAS) that plays a role in the formation of adipose tissues. These effects lead to weight loss and have been proven by a study done on rats.
6. Lightens Skin: Tamarind is rich in alpha hydroxy acids which are well known for their skin lightening and smoothing effects as they reduce melanin and sebum production in the skin.
There are no serious side effects of tamarind. Diabetics and people who take blood thinner medicines must take it with the proper consultation of a doctor.
It is a blessing that we have been blessed with fruits that not only taste good but are super beneficial to our health. Tamarind is no doubt one of these fruits which are used in several recipes, has a rich taste and whose regular use renders healthy effects on our body.