Category Archives: Tamarind

Tamarind: Health Benefits and Nutrition

The tamarind is a fruit that grows deep in the jungles of the tropical regions of India and Africa. You might not have seen one or even heard of the fruit before, but don’t be fooled by its relative obscurity—it is one of the most powerful and helpful fruits discovered to date. Though the fruit itself is grown as a somewhat off-putting, light brown pod, the flesh inside is sweet and can be candied, dried, and salted. In Asia it is common to see tamarind used in jams or jellies.

tamarind

You may not think the tamarind looks appealing, but it is a delicious and healthy fruit.

However, the tamarind is not only a delicious delicacy, it also comes with many health benefits. Tamarinds are extraordinarily high in tannins, alkaloids, saponins, and many compounds that naturally fight harmful bacteria. By eating tamarind, you can give your immune system an extra boost against common germs and infections, while still enjoying a savory fruit. Nearer to its homeland, in African and Indian medicinal traditions, the tamarind is often used for helping digestion and the heart. For centuries, it has also been used as a cure for scurvy, cough, malarial fever, and a multitude of other ailments. Scientists have recently discovered that the tamarind can also lower blood pressure levels and serum cholesterol levels, problems that plague many Americans. If only this fruit were more common, many people could be cured of their problems.

Tamarinds are also a source of antioxidants in the form of tannic acid. Antioxidants are compounds that are found in some fruits, and help the body fight off toxins and free radicals, which can lead to serious complications such as cancer. Doctors worldwide recommend that people get a good serving of antioxidants every day, and tamarind, being very high in these compounds, are one of the best ways to acquire them. But it doesn’t stop there—not only can tamarind provide cancer-fighting agents, improve bodily processes like digestion and heart activity, fight disease, and lower blood pressure levels, it is also rich in many essential vitamins and minerals, such as iron, which is essential to good blood health, and thiamin, vitamin C, vitamin A, and folic acid. These vitamins and minerals, and many more, all contribute to the health of the blood or of various organs. So tamarind can give you an extra health boost and prevent future diseases—they’re truly an amazing fruit, and since many of these discoveries are recent, you can be one of the first to embrace its health benefits.

Tamarind Information and Health Benefits

The tamarind, also known as the Indian date, is quite an interesting fruit with tons of history behind it.  Despite its name, the tamarind doesn’t actually originate in India.  In fact, it is actually indigenous to a region quite far from India: tropical Africa, near modern-day Sudan.  To this day, the tamarind still grows wild in the jungles of Africa.

In fact, in the 16th century, the tamarind was introduced to Mexico and South America by colonists, and it was heavily grown and became very common in the area.  Now, the tamarind is also cultivated across many regions of Africa, as well as many parts of Asia and the Americas.

The tamarind fruit grows on a bushy, medium-size tree that is able to live to a long life.  The tree is extremely flexible, and it’s able to grow well in all types of soil, as long as it has sunshine.  Enough about the tree – here’s some about the actual fruit.

The tamarind is quite interesting – it’s actually a pod with a brown-colored, hard shell.  However, once opened, the pod reveals juicy and a bit acidic flesh.  The flesh of the tamarind is brown to reddish-brown, and the number of seeds in each tamarind pod depends on the variety.  Asian varieties of tamarind have as many as six to twelve seeds per pod, while African and Indian tamarinds have just one to six.

The tamarind’s taste is unlike other fruits and is very unique.  The flesh tastes both sweet and sour at the same time, and contains many nutrients, including a plethora of B vitamins.  In addition, the tamarind is extremely unusual in that it provides a great supply of calcium, which is very rare for any fruit.

The tamarind can be used in many ways in cooking, if not eaten by itself.  In fact, did you know that the tamarind is a component in Worcestershire sauce and HP sauce?  All throughout the world, the tamarind is used in many dishes.

For many centuries, the tamarind has been valued for its health benefits and medical uses.  In fact, modern studies have found that tamarind is very high in tannins, saponins, alkaloids, and more compounds that naturally fight bacteria, including Salmonella and Staph.

Traditionally, tamarind has also been used in African and Indian Ayurvedic medicine to help digestion, the heart, and more.  The tamarind has also been found to lower cholesterol and blood sugar.  Finally, tamarind is great as a laxative, and is greatly helpful for the digestive system.

Further reading

  1. Heinerman New Encyclopedia of Fruits