The name tamarind was derived from two Arabic names ‘Tamr Hindi’ meaning the ‘Indian date’ fruit. This tropical fruit native to Africa is not only a staple ingredient in the continent, but in many regions including South Asian, Australia, and also Central and South America.
It is used in different cuisines like making sauces, chutneys and juices. For long tamarind has also been used in folk medicine to cure conditions like fever and abdominal disorders.
Tamarind is a source of a host of nutrients such as proteins, dietary fibre and calories. It is rich in both water and fat-soluble vitamins; K, C, B6, riboflavin, niacin, thiamine and folate. Tamarind also contains important minerals like magnesium, potassium, iron, phosphorous, calcium and traces of zinc, sodium and selenium.
This tropical fruit has numerous health benefits such as maintaining blood pressure levels, promoting nervous function, blood purification, good for skin care and aids in weight loss.
1. High in antioxidants
Tamarind contains plant compounds (polyphenols) like apigenin and flavonoids which have powerful antioxidant properties. These compounds are effective in neutralizing free radicals hence reducing oxidative damage. This prevents risks of heart diseases.
2. Anti-inflammatory properties
Studies have shown tamarind to be a good anti-inflammatory agent due to its high plant compounds content. It contains lupeol, a compound that helps relieve rheumatic conditions and gout. Its juice is also used in treating inflammatory bowel diseases.
3. Rich in magnesium
Tamarind is a magnesium powerhouse hence its consumption make one easily attain the required daily magnesium intake. Magnesium plays a key role in bone formation, muscle contractions, regulating heart rhythms and maintaining blood sugar levels. It also gives relief to people with insomnia or sleeping disorders.
4. Anti-diabetic effects
Tamarind is relatively high in magnesium, an important mineral in human health that has anti-diabetic effects. Tamarind juice inhibits an enzyme that is considered to be effective in treating type-2 diabetes. Magnesium in tamarind also helps lower blood pressure.
5. Maintains blood pressure
Tamarind is rich in potassium which helps in the relaxation (vasodilation) of blood vessels hence maintaining healthy blood pressure in the human body.
6. Antimicrobial properties
The dietary fibre content and presence of several compounds with antimicrobial properties make tamarind great in treating conditions like diarrhoea, constipation and several parasitic infections.
7. Improves nerve function
Tamarind contains thiamine and other B-complex vitamins that play a vital role in improving the nerve functions of the human body.
8. Skin health
Applying tamarind juice to your skin helps remove spots and makes it look healthy and rejuvenated.
9. Helps fight nausea
Tamarind has also helped many pregnant women fight nausea symptoms, morning sickness and reduce food cravings.
With all this said, in some people tamarind may cause allergic reactions like itching, swelling and stomach pains. Studies have also shown tamarind to have high carbohydrates and sugar contents, and therefore it is advisable to be consumed in moderation by people with diabetic symptoms.