Do you like your tangy food? Then, you must be in love with the sweet-sour taste of tamarind. The delicious fruit remains present in our kitchen in multiple forms. When used in dishes, it also adds a delightful tart-sweet flavor. But it is not only the palate-pleasing nature but also its myriad health benefits that make tamarind a kitchen staple. Want to know more about the health benefits of tamarind and how you can make the most of it? Keep reading.
Know About Tamarind
Tamarind or ‘imli’ (scientifically known as ‘Tamarindus Indica’) is a delicious fruit that has been used for years to add a tangy taste to food. It is the tart-sweet fruit of a very tall tree that belongs to the ‘Fabaceae family.’ Originated in the hot regions of Africa, tamarind is now extensively cultivated in several tropical countries, including Mexico, Sri Lanka, and India. You can eat it directly or use it as a condiment in cooking by pounding it finely. The pulp extracted from the tamarind fruit is added to many curries, chutneys, and other dishes, lending them distinct tastes and colors. It is even added to desserts. Tamarind is known for its health benefits, not just as a taste enhancer. Tamarind is also found in Indian kitchens as digestive candies, pickles, beans, spices, and more.
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Nutrients In Tamarind
According to nutrition, tamarind is a true ‘superfood’. It is rich in protein, fat, vital vitamins (B complex, pyridoxine, C, E), minerals (iron, sodium, calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium, copper, and manganese), and dietary fibers. It also comes loaded with antioxidants (mainly tartaric acid) and phytochemicals (limonene, geraniol, safrole, cinnamic acid, pyrazine, methyl salicylate, alkyl thiazoles, etc.), which eradicate free radicals from our body. Tamarind has a calorie count of 287 (1 cup pulp).
Amazing Health Benefits Of Tamarind
1. Improves Digestion
The abundance of dietary fibers in tamarind makes the fruit a great digestive agent. It increases the production of bile in the body, thereby leading to better digestion. In addition, the bilious effects of this fruit keep our stomach, liver, colon, and other digestive organs healthy by preventing ulcers and inflammations. Tamarind also helps bulk up the stool and makes it pass through the digestive system quickly. This makes it an excellent laxative, translating into better bowel movements and excretion.
2. Stimulates Circulation
Tamarind is a rich source of iron, which enhances blood circulation and keeps anemia and other related symptoms at bay. Adding one serving of it to your daily diet can help you get 10% of your daily iron requirement. This leads to an increased count of RBC (Red Blood cells) in the bloodstream, thereby ensuring that the body receives the optimum amount of oxygen. This is essential to each of its cells and organs for carrying on their functionalities properly.
3. Keeps Heart Healthy
Dietary fibers present in tamarind help control cholesterol levels in the body by reducing the excess LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) and promoting HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol). On the other hand, the high potassium content of the fruit contributes to its strong vasodilatory effects, which help lower blood pressure levels significantly. Moreover, it is rich in antioxidant vitamin C, which helps prevent chronic diseases by lessening the stress on the cardiovascular system.
4. Promotes Weight Loss
When you include tamarind in your regular diet, it helps you lose a few extra pounds and keeps your body weight under check. The fruit releases hydroxycitric acid or HCA into the body, which helps prevent an enzyme that causes fat storage. Tamarind also helps suppress hunger pangs by boosting the secretion of a neurotransmitter called ‘serotonin’. All these cumulatively cause weight loss.
5. Boosts Cognitive Function
Tamarind is rich in Thiamine or vitamin B1 that helps in strengthening our nervous system and promoting our muscle development. Consuming thiamine will keep your nerve reflexes at their best and give you better cognitive function.
6. Treats Rheumatism
The anti-inflammatory properties of tamarind make it a great herbal medicine for treating Rheumatism. It breaks down specific inflammatory chemicals named ‘interleukin’ and inhibits the secretion of bone-damaging enzymes. Tamarind soothes inflammation and protects the bones, joints, and cartilages from pain and discomfort.
7. Controls Diabetes
Tamarind is one of the best natural ingredients that help manage diabetes effectively. It is an alpha-amylase inhibitor, which helps prevent carbohydrates from being absorbed into the body and converted into sugars. As a result, no spikes or fluctuations are caused in our blood sugar levels.
8. Strengthens Immunity
The antioxidant properties of tamarind, coupled with its antimicrobial effects, make it an excellent ingredient for strengthening the immune system. A serving of tamarind every day can shield your body from foreign body invasions and keep all kinds of microbial infections away, thereby protecting you from several diseases.
The anti-inflammatory nature makes tamarind an excellent choice to treat skin rashes and sun burns. Apply some chilled tamarind pulp on inflamed skin for instant relief.
Best Ways To Use Tamarind For Health
Following are the most common ways to consume tamarind for improving your overall health:
- Consuming half a teaspoon of tamarind pulp daily.
- Add tamarind pulp or extract to your regular dishes, fruit juices, or health drinks.
- Make small marble-sized balls of pounded tamarind with some jaggery, black salt, and cumin for everyday consumption.
- Chew on some tamarind candy every day.
- Prepare an infusion by boiling a teaspoon of tamarind pulp in a liter of water, strain it, and sip throughout the day.
- Make a solution by mixing half a teaspoon of roasted tamarind seed powder with water and have it regularly.
Side Effects Of Tamarind
However, you must consume tamarind in moderate amounts to stay away from the following risk factors associated with it and avert severe damage:
- Hypersensitivity to tamarind can cause rashes, itching, vomiting, and even shortness of breath.
- Excessive tamarind intake (more than 10 gms. a day) can lead to hypoglycemia.
- People with chronic indigestion might develop acid reflux by consuming tamarind frequently.
- Uncontrolled portion sizes of tamarind can lead to the formation of gallstones in our bodies.
- “Tamarind: A diet‐based strategy against lifestyle maladies” – ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
- “Top 6 health benefits of tamarind” – bbcgoodfood.com
- “Health Benefits of Tamarind” – webmd.com