Tamarind, a Tropical Fruit that is Good for Your Health

Tamarind

Tamarind, sometimes called “the date of India” is an exotic tropical fruit used all over the world.

It is known for its exquisite flavour but what many ignore is that it also has medicinal properties.

This fruit comes from a native African tree known as Tamarindus indica which can grow in tropical regions such as:

  • Africa
  • India
  • Pakistan
  • Mexico, among many others.

Tamarindus indica produces pods filled with dense fibrous pulp surrounding seeds.

When unripe its green and sour but as it ripens the pulp becomes more juicy, past-like and sweet-sour.

How To Use it?

This fruit can be used for many purposes such as:

  • Cooking
  • Medicinal
  • Household

Cooking

Its widely used for cooking all over the world such as:

  • Mexico
  • The Caribbean
  • Middle East
  • South and South East Asia

Seeds, leaves and pulp of tamarind are edible and use in:

  • Sauces
  • Marinades
  • Drinks
  • Desserts
  • Chutneys
  • Candy’s
  • Soups
  • Rice

And is one of the ingredients of Worcestershire sauce.

Medicinal Properties

Tamarind has been commonly used in traditional medicine for:

  • Diarrhoea – pulp.
  • Constipation – pulp.
  • Fever – pulp.
  • Peptic ulcers – pulp.
  • Wound healing – bark and leaves.

Nowadays researchers have been studying tamarind for its potential medical uses.

Polyphenols in it have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that can protect your body against diseases such as:

  • Heart diseases
  • Cancer
  • Diabetes

Also, its seeds may help to lower your blood sugar (1).

While its pulp may help you reverse fatty liver disease and to lose body weight (1).

Taking Care of Your Household

Tamarind pulp can be used as a metal polish because it’s tartaric acid content which helps to remove tarnish from bronze and copper.

Nutrition Facts

Tamarind is high in many nutrients. A single cup (120 grams) of the pulp contains (2):

  • Energy: 287 calories
  • Protein: 3 grams
  • Fat: 1 gram
  • Carbs: 69 gramos
  • Fibre: 6 grams
  • Magnesium: 28% of the RDI.
  • Potassium: 22% of the RDI.
  • Iron: 19% of the RDI.
  • Calcium: 9% of the RDI.
  • Phosphorus: 14% of the RDI.
  • Thiamin (Vitamin B1): 34% of the RDI.
  • Riboflavin (Vitamin B2): 11% of the RDI.
  • Niacin (Vitamin B3): 12% of the RDI.

A single cup of tamarind is equivalent to 17.5 teaspoons of sugar but despite its content tamarind pulp is considered a fruit, and not an added sugar.

Tamarind is not linked to metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes (3).

Different Forms of Tamarind

There are many available prepared forms such as:

  • Candy
  • Syrup and sweetened syrup
  • Puree and sweetened puree
  • Powder and sweetened powder

This fruit can also be bought as a pure fruit in three main forms:

  • Raw pods
  • Pressed block
  • Concentrate

Its Antioxidants May Boost Heart Health

Because of its content of polyphenols, tamarind may help your heart health in different ways.

It can help to regulate cholesterol in blood.

One scientific study in hamsters found that tamarind lowered “bad cholesterol” (LDL cholesterol), total cholesterol and triglycerides (4).

Antioxidants in tamarind can help your body to decrease oxidative damage to “bad cholesterol”, a key factor in heart diseases (1).

Because its relatively high content of magnesium, it can help your body to lower your blood pressure, reduce inflammatory effects in your cells and prevents you from diabetes.

However, approximately 50% of the people does not get enough magnesium in their diet (5).

Other Effects in Your Body

It also contains natural compounds that have properties (6):

  • Antiviral
  • Anti fungal
  • Antibacterial

It’s because these effects that tamarind have been used to treat infections.

Take Home Message

Tamarind has many beneficial nutrients and phytonutrients but it’s also very high in calories mainly from sugar.

The healthiest way to eat it is raw or as a savoury ingredient.

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