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Tamarind: A Tropical Fruit With Several Health Benefits

Tamarind is a type of tropical fruit used in many dishes worldwide. It is fruit, and its seeds are great for health. Therefore, it is a staple in many households. It is a hardwood tree known scientifically as Tamarindus indicus. The tree is native to Asia and Africa and primarily grows in tropical climates. The tree produces pods of fruit that taste sweet and sour. It has a date-like texture. 

India and Thailand are its highest producers. However, it is a staple ingredient in Asian cuisines apart from African and Middle Eastern recipes. Tamarinds are known as leguminous trees as their fruit is a bean-like pod and is also known as ‘the date of India’. You may extract the fruit from fresh pods. Then, people use it to make its paste or concentrate.  

Nutritional Value of Tamarind

Tamarind pulp is a powerhouse of antioxidants, phytochemicals and other vital nutrients involving Vitamin A, C, E, K, B6, magnesium, phosphorus, calcium, protein and no cholesterol.

A half-cup (120ml) serving contains:

Calories: 143
Protein: 2 grams
Fat: 0 grams
Carbohydrate: 38 grams
Fibre: 3 grams
Sugar: 34 grams

It has a high nutrient value with at least: 

Vitamin B1 (Thiamine)
Vitamin B3 (Niacin)
Potassium
Magnesium 
Phosphorus
Iron

It holds a unique place in kitchens. People use it in chutneys, digestive candies, pickles, jams, desserts, steak sauces and candies. It is an ingredient in a wide range of sauces. It is popular in Asian, South and Central American, African, and Caribbean cuisines. 

Health Benefits of Tamarind

People use tamarind as traditional medicine. Its pulp contains a wide variety of nutrients that can boost your immunity. Its leaves, beans, bark, and woods have many uses. Let us evaluate and enumerate a few of its health benefits.

1. Ensures Tissue Health

Various tissues in our body help serve numerous functions. For example, amino acids are the building blocks of protein. Therefore, they are essential for your body to grow and tissue repair. However, your body cannot synthesise these amino acids. Consequently, you must ingest them through your food. 

According to a study, tamarind contains many essential amino acids except tryptophan. As a result, it helps improve and manage tissue health.

2. Prevents Cancer 

The most common risk factors for cancer include ageing, tobacco and sun exposure. Radiation exposure, chemicals and family history of cancer are other such elements. Most cancers are connected to DNA damage. Phytochemicals in tamarind have antioxidant properties. It also has beta-carotene. 

Many studies show that diets high in antioxidants have several benefits. Research suggests that it has a solid ability to reduce oxidative stress. Antioxidants may curtail free radicals from harming cell DNA. As a result, it may help reduce the risk of cancer.

Tamarind is rich in B vitamins, especially pyridoxine or B6, thiamine or B1 and folate or vitamin B9. These vitamins are good for health. Also, they are essential for the smooth functioning of the brain and nervous system. It stimulates nerve function and also improves muscle growth. Also helps strengthen your reflexes and makes you active, thus maintaining general strength. 

A study suggests that it has anti-inflammatory properties. It prevents the inflammatory white blood cells from attacking the brain. As a result, it protects the brain tissues from damage. The fruit also has a presence of Luteolin, it is a robust neuroprotective agent. It is capable of suppressing inflammation within brain tissues.

4. Promotes Bone Health

Healthy bones are crucial to support the proper functioning of your joints and for your movement. In addition, they protect your brain, heart, and other organs from injury.

As per research, magnesium is crucial for bone health. Magnesium in your diet imparts better bone density. Tamarind is an excellent source of magnesium. It also has better calcium levels than any other source. The combination of these minerals may help prevent osteoporosis and fractures.

5. Improves Heart Health 

A healthy heart is essential for overall good health. 

Tamarind has a high source of polyphenols and flavonoids. Research suggests that it decreases LDL cholesterol levels and increases good HDL cholesterol. However, a prescribed dietary intake is essential for the same. It results in lowering the risk of atherosclerosis. Dried pulp also has anti-hypertensive effects. It reduces diastolic blood pressure.

6. Protects Liver

Tamarind contains antioxidants called procyanidins. It protects the liver from radical injury, it has a high concentration of unsaturated fatty acids as well. It also contains a good amount of fiber which helps to detoxify the body.

Research shows that its fruit extract has a protective effect on the liver. Therefore, it is suitable to consume if one has fatty liver disease.

7. Antimicrobial and Anti-fungal Protection

According to a study, tamarind pulp has antimicrobial properties. For example, lupeol has antibacterial properties. It also has antifungal and antiseptic properties.

It may reduce the number of pathogens or parasites in your body. Furthermore, it is also an excellent cure for intestinal worms in children. 

8. Anti-diabetic 

Tamarind is a natural remedy for diabetes. It helps regulate the glucose levels in your blood.

As per research, Tamarind Seed Coat Extract (TSCE) has the potential anti-diabetic effect to regulate blood sugar.

9. Maintains Digestive Health

Tamarind water is an excellent decoction for your digestive system. It stimulates bowel movements and excretion. In acts as a natural laxative. Finally, it boosts your metabolism to maintain a robust digestive system. 

The fibre content enhances the smooth movement of stool through your intestinal tract. It also synthesises the bile juice that helps to boost digestion. Consequently, your digestive system is kept clean.

Moreover, with a sound and regular digestive system, your stomach and organs inhibit the secretion of acids and bile. That helps improve digestion. Hence, the water lines the abdomen and curtails painful ulcers and inflammations.

10. Improves Blood Circulation

The potassium in tamarind controls your blood pressure and heart rate by regulating normal fluid balance. It also has iron that aids the normal synthesis and development of red blood cells. As a result, it helps to maintain smooth blood circulation.

According to research, its seeds may help treat hyperglycemia. It also treats hypercholesterolemia.

11. Tamarind in Promoting Weight Loss

Tamarind contains hydroxy citric acid (HCA), which aids weight loss. It inhibits fat-storing enzymes in your body. Moreover, flavonoids and polyphenols boost your metabolism. A good amount of fibre and low-fat content helps to keep you fuller, bulks up the stool, and prevents unnecessary binge eating. 

As per a study, a daily dose of its 20g fruit pulp has no significant effects on body weight. So, choose the amount that suits your body.

12. Boosts Immunity

Your immune system recognises foreign invaders like bacteria, viruses, and parasites. Hence it takes immediate action to protect you from harmful microbes and certain diseases. 

As per research, tamarind is a rich source of vitamin C and other antioxidants. Along with its benefits of boosting your immunity, it also has antiseptic properties that heals infection and wounds.

13. Anti-inflammatory Properties

Bone pain, lumps, and brittleness in your body indicate specific bone problems. According to a study, the anti-inflammatory properties in tamarind inhibit bone disorders like arthritis, joint pain, rheumatic conditions and gout. Therefore, it finds usage in ayurvedic and herbal combinations for curing inflammation.

14. Tamarind Improves Eye Health

Vitamin A is essential for your eye health. It also reduces the possibilities of macular degeneration and age-induced cataracts. Tamarind is a rich source of vitamin A and the decoction of its water prevents various eye disorders. In addition, it has compounds that protect your eye against dry eyes.

According to research, it can be used in diet to fight against many maladies.

15. Purifies Your Blood

Tamarind has over a dozen nutrients. Vitamins, antioxidants, dietary fibre, folic acid, and essential amino acids make it a great ingredient. These essentially scavenge the free radicals to counter any adverse effects on the circulatory system. Thus, including it in your diet ensures toxin-free blood.

It is laden with a good amount of iron – 3.4mg/120 g of pulp. That suffices the daily iron requirement to keep fatigues and anaemia at bay.

Daily Life Uses of Tamarind

Tamarind is a versatile ingredient. From soups to sweet chutneys, juices and carbonated drinks and dishes, it enhances the flavour of your foods. The fruit is inside seed pods. It is a culinary staple in the Caribbean, India, Thailand, and Mexico. Apart from being the common ingredient in cuisine, it offers a variety of uses. Let us analyse.

Culinary Uses

1. Tamarind Pulp

The fruit pulp of tamarind is edible. However, the green pulp of a young fruit may be too sour. Therefore, people often use it as an ingredient in dishes. It is a natural pickling agent. The matured fruit is sweeter and less sour. Thus, the ripened fruit is tastier. In Western cuisine, people use its pulp in Worcestershire Sauce.

2. Tamarind Paste

Tamarind paste has many culinary uses. For example, it is a flavouring agent for chutneys, curries, and the traditional sharbat drink. Its sweet chutney is prevalent in many South Asian countries. People use it as a dressing      for many snacks and salads. It is also an essential flavouring agent in dishes and rice. Also, South Indian cuisine uses it hugely. 

3. Creating Dishes

Across the Middle East and the Mediterranean, meat-based stews are combined with dried tamarind to attain a sweet-sour tang. In the Philippines, the whole fruit goes in the traditional dish called sinigang. Indonesia also has a tamarind-based soup dish called Sayur asem. 

4. Beverages

The pulp in Mexico and the Caribbean is diluted with water and sweetened to prepare an agua fresca drink.

5. Medicinal Uses

Across Southeast Asia, people apply tamarind paste on foreheads to reduce body temperature in fever. It has a laxative effect as well. It also contains malic acid, tartaric acid, and potassium bitartrate: these cure constipation and digestive disorders.

6. Carpentry and Woodcraft

Artisans use tamarind timber in furniture, carvings, wood crafts, chopping blocks, and decorative wood products. Its heartwood is reddish-brown. Heartwood is decay and mite resistant and durable. Due to its density and interlocked structure, it is considered stiff. It imparts an excellent finish with natural aesthetics for the products.

People use the tamarind fruit pulp to polish brass and copper statues, utensils, and lamps in homes and temples. It has tartaric acid, a mild acid that removes the coat of copper carbonate and retains the metallic shine. Hence, people use it to scrub tarnished copper utensils.

8. Horticulture and Gardening

Across the tropical region and SouthEast Asia, tamarind trees are grown as ornamental, food and cash crops. It is ornamental as a bonsai species.  

Benefits of Tamarind Seeds

Medicinal research by the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Roorkee revealed that a protein in tamarind seeds has antiviral properties. Therefore, we can use it as an antiviral medication for chikungunya.

There are many more health benefits  like:

1. Promotes Oral Health

According to Ayurveda, massaging tamarind seed powder on your gingiva or gums and teeth may improve oral health. Abnormal consumption of soft drinks, tea and tobacco results in tartar and plaque formation on teeth. The seeds eliminate them by cleaning your teeth.

2. Tamarind Improves Digestion

Tamarind seed juice is a natural therapy to cure indigestion. It promotes bile production. Additionally, it is laden with dietary fibre. Fibre also aids to improve your digestive system.

3. Prevents Peptic Ulcers

Peptic ulcers are sores that appear in the internal lining of your stomach and small intestine. Polyphenolic compounds in tamarind can prevent these ulcers.

4. Prophylactic and Prevent Infections

The antibacterial properties in tamarind seed benefit and protect you from infections. The seeds powder can prevent intestinal, skin and urinary tract infections. In addition, it is an abundant source of alpha-hydroxy acids (AHA). These AHAs are essential in exfoliators. It means you can use its juice as an exfoliator for healthy and rejuvenated skin. In addition, antioxidants and vitamin C in the juice prevent premature ageing.

5. Cure for Diabetes

Tamarind seeds in powdered form are effective in diabetes. It is because they enhance the synthesis of insulin-producing cells. Drinking its seed water may regulate blood sugar levels naturally.

6. Heart-friendly

Tamarind seeds contain potassium with low sodium. Therefore, it helps hypertensive patients and in other cardiovascular diseases. One cup (250 ml) contains 753 mg potassium, 33.6 mg sodium. As a natural vasodilator, potassium aids to relax the blood vessels. It helps maintain normal blood pressure.

Recipes with Tamarind

Here are some simple, nutritious, easy to prepare recipes. 

1. Tamarind Hot and Sour Soup

Preparation Time: 10 mins

Serves: 4

Ingredients 

Diced onion- 1 cup
Vegetable or olive oil- 2 tbsp
Garlic chopped- 1 tbsp
Sliced vegetables (carrots,broccoli,mushroom,,cauliflower)- 2 Cups
Sugar- 1 tsp
Salt- to taste
Cracked pepper- ½ tsp
Vegetable or chicken stock- 4 cups
Soy sauce-1 teaspoon( optional)
Tamarind paste-1 tbsp

Procedure

Heat oil over medium-high flame.
Add diced onions and garlic. 
Saute until tender or for 2-3minutes.
Add vegetables, sugar, and salt.
Saute for another 2-3 minutes on high flame.
Add stock and soy sauce.
Add the paste.
Bring to a boil.
Simmer for 2 minutes.
Serve it with chopped cilantro, chilli flakes and crushed pepper.

2. Salad with Tamarind Dressing 

Preparation- 10mins

Serves- 2

Ingredients

Cooked chicken shredded or tofu- 300g 
Baby spinach leaves-100 grams
Ripe papaya deseeded and sliced-1 cup
Chopped coriander leaves- ½ cup
Mint leaves-¼ cup
Sliced cucumber-½ cup
Thinly sliced spring onions-½ cup 
Sliced red chilli -1 tsp

For the dressing

Tamarind purée-2 tbsp 
Grated garlic-1 tsp
Lime juice -1 tsp
Powdered brown sugar -3 tbsp
Chilli flakes-1 tbsp

Procedure

Mix all the dry ingredients and keep the mix aside.
Mix the dressing ingredients well with 1 tbsp water.
Pour the dressing over the salad.
Serve it and enjoy.

3. Tamarind Rice

Preparation- 40 mins

Serves- 2

Ingredients

Rice- 2 cups
Tamarind pulp- ½ cup
Whole red chillies- 3
Curry leaves- ¼ cup
Asafoetida- pinch
Mustard seeds- 1 tsp
Chana dal- 1 tbsp
Urad dal- 1 tsp
Methi seeds- ¼ tsp
Red chilli powder- ½ tsp
Peanuts- 1 tbsp
Salt- 1 tsp
Turmeric powder- ¼ tsp
Gur- ¼ tsp
Oil

Procedure

Heat some oil and roast peanuts with chana dal and urad dal.
Saute until it becomes slightly coloured.
Mix curry leaves and whole red chillies.
Cook them well and add salt, asafoetida, red chilli powder, and turmeric powder.
Saute them well, then combine some jaggery.
Mix them for some time, then pour the tamarind pulp.
Continue cooking until it turns into a semi-thick gravy.
Add cooked rice and mix them properly.

Your tamarind rice is ready.

Possible Side Effects of Tamarind

Sweet tamarind is a staple ingredient in Indian and South-East Asian cuisines. Rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, it is ideal for various cures like digestive disorders, heart-related issues, diabetes, etc. However, eat this fruit only in moderate amounts.

The appropriate dose relies on several factors such as your age, medical history, and health conditions. Currently, there is insufficient scientific information to substantiate its adequate dose. Moreover, bear in mind that natural products are not always essentially safe. Therefore, overeating may be harmful. 

Be sure to consult your physician before resorting to a daily dose to avert the risks of any side effects. 

Here are the common side effects that you may encounter on its uncontrolled consumption.

1. Hypoglycemia in Diabetics

Regular consumption of excess tamarind can abruptly reduce serum glucose levels. It may result in hypoglycemia. Nutritionists recommend 10 g of dosage a day. However, it is only 0.8 per cent of regular dietary intake. 

It may reduce blood sugar levels and interfere with blood sugar control. Therefore, if you have diabetes and use it, you need to monitor your blood sugar levels. Furthermore, you should adjust the dose for diabetes medications accordingly.

2. Surgery and Drug Interactions with Tamarind

Taking tamarind with certain medications might increase the rate of drug absorption. As a result, it could elevate the number of drugs in the body, resulting in adverse effects. Therefore, you should stop its consumption at least two weeks before a scheduled surgery.

It may raise the risk of bleeding and react with some medications. These medications include:

Aspirin
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
Anticoagulants
Antiplatelet drugs

If you eat it with the above medications, the rate of drug absorption abnormally increases. As a result, it may lead to profuse bleeding.

3. May Cause Allergy

Allergy is one of the most adverse effects of tamarind. Some of you may be sensitive to it. Allergy may manifest with the following symptoms:

Itching
Rashes
Inflammation
Light-headedness
Stinging sensation
Nausea and vomiting
Fainting
Shortness of breath

4. Damage to Tooth Enamel

The tamarind fruit is acidic. Therefore, if you eat it in excess quantities, the enamel of your teeth is likely to get affected by its acidic contents. As a result, the increased level of acidic content may harm both your health and teeth.

5. Gallstones Formation

A study suggests that excessive tamarind may promote stones formation in the gallbladder. It might result in many health concerns involving jaundice, nausea, abdominal cramping, vomiting, liver problems, and digestive issues.

An investigation by researchers has implicated that tamarind candy is a potential source of lead exposure for children. That is because it significantly elevates blood lead levels. Lead poisoning may fatally impact the functioning of your kidneys and nervous system. Therefore, it is risky for children and pregnant women.

Conclusion

Tamarind is a delicious fruit. Several studies show how it improves our health. However, it also has probable side effects. Therefore, you should always be careful with your consumption. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q. Why is tamarind not good for health?

A. Tamarind is beneficial if you eat it in moderation. It is a blood thinner and may reduce your blood pressure. But, excessive consumption may also cause lead poisoning in children.

Q. What are the health benefits of tamarind?

A. There are several health benefits of tamarind. It helps in weight loss, aids digestion, and maintains your heart health.

Q. Can I eat tamarind every day?

A. Yes, eating tamarind daily within a recommended dose will bring immense benefits. It boosts your immunity and maintains the health of your liver and heart. It helps in weight reduction too, as it is rich in fibre with no fat content.

Q. Is tamarind bad for kidneys?

A. If consumed in excess quantities, tamarind may react with the body. It can damage kidneys and nervous system. Tamarind does not have lead, but the fruit is acidic and thus reactive.

Q. How do I use tamarind?

A. You can use tamarind in several ways. For example, you can make balls and chutneys with it. In addition, you can use it as a meat tenderiser and as an ingredient in various recipes. 

Q. What does tamarind do to the skin?

A. Tamarind soothes your skin from irritation and inflammation, lightens skin tone and diminishes dark spots and pigmentation.

Q. Is tamarind good for blood pressure?

A. Yes, tamarind maintains a healthy blood pressure. It has a high fibre content which reduces LDL or bad cholesterol in the body. Potassium is also helpful in regulating blood pressure. 

Q. Is tamarind good for heart patients?

A. Yes, tamarind is excellent for your heart. It reduces blood cholesterol and is effective in lowering LDL cholesterol. 

Q. Can a diabetic eat tamarind?

A. Yes, Tamarind can help lower blood sugar levels. But regular intake of tamarind requires blood sugar monitoring.

Q. What are the side effects of tamarind?

A. Tamarind has some probable side effects. For example, tamarind might lead to lead poisoning and unhealthy weight loss and trigger profuse bleeding.

Q. Is tamarind rich in vitamin C?

A. Yes, tamarind is rich in Vitamin C. It contains 52% of the RDI of vitamin C. It is also an excellent source of niacin, calcium, and copper.

Tags: healthifymeTamarindTamarind BenefitsTamarind Nutritional ValueUses of Tamarind

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