Tamarind is a hardwood tree known scientifically as Tamarindus indica. It’s native to Africa but also grows in India, Pakistan and many other tropical regions. The tree produces bean-like pods filled with seeds surrounded by a fibrous pulp. The pulp of the young fruit is green and sour. As it ripens, the juicy pulp becomes paste-like and more sweet-sour. Interestingly, tamarind is sometimes referred to as the “date of India.”
Tamarind pulp is widely used for cooking in South and Southeast Asia, Mexico, the Middle East and the Caribbean. The seeds and leaves are also edible.
It is used in sauces, marinades, chutneys, drinks and desserts. It’s also one of the ingredients of Worcestershire sauce.
Tamarind has played an important role in traditional medicine.
In beverage form, it was commonly used to treat diarrhea, constipation, fever and peptic ulcers. The bark and leaves were also used to promote wound healing.
Modern researchers are now studying this plant for potential medicinal uses.
The polyphenols in tamarind have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. These can protect against diseases such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes.
The seed extract may also help lower blood sugar, while the pulp extract may help you lose body weight and reverse fatty liver disease (1).
Tamarind pulp can also be used as a metal polish. It contains tartaric acid, which helps remove tarnish from copper and bronze.
It Is High in Nutrients
Tamarind is high in many nutrients. A single cup (120 grams) of the pulp contains
- 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.
- Vitamin B1 (thiamin): 34% of the RDI.
- Vitamin B2 (riboflavin): 11% of the RDI.
- Vitamin B3 (niacin): 12% of the RDI.
- Trace amounts of vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), folate, vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid), copper and selenium.
- It also contains 6 grams of fiber, 3 grams of protein and 1 gram of fat.
- This comes with a total of 287 calories, almost all of which are from sugar.
In fact, a single cup of tamarind contains 69 grams of carbs in the form of sugar, which is equivalent to 17.5 teaspoons of sugar.
Despite its sugar content, tamarind pulp is considered a fruit, not an added sugar — the kind that’s linked to metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes
However, tamarind is pretty high in calories compared to many other fruit, which may be a problem for people who are trying to control calorie intake.
It also contains polyphenols, which are naturally occurring plant compounds that have health benefits. Many of them act as antioxidants in the body
Here are some important health benefits that tamarind has to offer
1.Tamarind has long been touted as a natural laxative that stimulates your metabolism and further keeps your digestive system strong. Fibre helps smoothen the process of moving the stool easily through your intestinal tract. Tamarind also stimulates the activity of bile that helps dissolve the food quickly speeding up digestion.
2.Improves blood circulationThe presence of potassium in tamarind helps control the blood pressure and heart rate by maintaining normal fluid balance in the body. It also contains iron that plays a vital role in the normal production and development of red blood cells, further keeping the blood circulation smooth.
3.Induces weight lossTamarind has one of the most important compounds known as hydroxycitric acid (HCA) which is connected to weight loss as it inhibits an enzyme in the body that specifically helps store fat. Considering it has a good amount of fiber present, it helps to keep you full for longer, stopping you from eating junk or high calorie foods.4.
4.Boosts immunityTamarind is a rich source for vitamin C as well as other antioxidants that helps in boosting the immune system, further inhibiting the growth of microbial and fungal infections. It antiseptic properties help the body to heal any infection.
5.Has anti-inflammatory propertiesIts anti-inflammatory properties are known to reduce problems like arthritis, joint pain, rheumatic conditions and gout. It is mostly used in herbal remedies for curing inflammation.
6.Improves your eye healthTamarind is loaded with vitamin A, which is essential for maintaining your eye health and further lowers the risk of macular degeneration and age-related cataracts. It has compounds that protect your eye against dry eyes. Drinking a decoction made by boiling tamarind in water may prevent you from eye inflammation.