Tamarind is a tropical fruit that can provide a wide range of health benefits. Known for its medicinal properties, tamarind is widely available in the UAE.
Tamarind can be implemented in multiple dishes and prepared in many different ways, and can even be used as a medicine. Although tamarind is not as common or as popular as most other fruits, it is certainly one that shouldn’t be overlooked.
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In this article, we will break down the health benefits of tamarind and what makes it such a special fruit.
What is Tamarind?
Tamarind is a hardwood tree that bears a type of fruit that resembles green beans in a pod. They grow mainly in tropical regions such as Africa, India, Pakistan, among other regions.
Tamarind fruits are a bean pod that is filled with seeds surrounded by a fibrous pulp. The pulp of the seed is juicy and is made of a paste-like consistency and becomes more sweet and sour as it ripens. Tamarind is often cooked and can be sued for meals, medication, or even household purposes.
Tamarind contains lots of important nutrients and is solid in increasing your Recommended Daily Intake (RDI) of a lot of important nutrients. Tamarind is packed with plenty of important vitamins and minerals as well as being a natural source of fibre, protein, and fat.
120 grams of tamarind pulp consists of:
- Magnesium – 28% of RDI.
- Potassium – 22% of RDI.
- Iron – 19% of RDI.
- Calcium – 9% of RDI.
- Phosphorus – 14% of RDI.
- Vitamin B1 (thiamin) – 34% of RDI.
- Vitamin B2 (riboflavin) – 11% of RDI.
- Vitamin B3 (niacin) – 12% of RDI.
- Traces of other essential vitamins including vitamin C, vitamin B6, and vitamin K
Although tamarind can provide you with a good dose of healthy nutrients, it is important to be mindful of its high sugar content. 120 grams of tamarind can contain up to 69 grams of carbohydrates, all of which come from sugar. Although it is a natural source of sugar, try to keep within your daily limit.
2. Cooking Uses
Tamarind can be cooked and prepared in many different ways. It is cooked in many different styles, depending on the particular dish and region.
Tamarind pulp is a common ingredient in many regions around the world including Asia, Southeast Asia, Mexico, Carribean, as well as the middle east. Tamarind can often be made into sauces, marinades, drinks, desserts, chutneys, and dressings.
Tamarind is also commonly bought in candy form that you can suck on, as well as a syrup you can add to sweeten the flavour of your choice of beverage.
3. Medicinal Uses
Tamarind has also been used as an ingredient for traditional medicine. When made in beverage form, it is known to treat fever, common colds, diarrhoea, and peptic ulcers.
The bark and leaves from the tamarind tree have also been used to promote wound healing. As the polyphenols in tamarind are high in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties, they can combat diseases and decrease the risks of heart disease, diabetes, and even cancer. The seed extract of tamarind can also help to lower blood sugar.
Tamarind is often sold in 3 different forms:
- Raw – the least processed form of tamarind, the pulps are still intact inside the pod.
- Pressed block – The shell and seeds are removed and the remaining pulp is compressed into a block.
- Concentrate – the pulp of the tamarind is boiled down with additives to help with preservation.
Benefits of Eating Tamarind
1. Its Antioxidants May Boost Heart Health
Tamarind is known to boost heart health in multiple ways. Its polyphenols and flavonoids content is known to regulate cholesterol levels, improving blood flow to the heart. The antioxidants in tamarind can also help to reduce oxidative damage to LDL (bad) cholesterol, ultimately decreasing the chances of heart disease.
2. It’s High in Beneficial Magnesium
Tamarind is high in magnesium as 28 grams or ¼ of a cup contains 6% of the daily recommended intake. Magnesium is important for the diet as it plays a role in most of your body’s functions. It can also help to lower blood pressure with its anti-inflammatory effects.
3. Anti-fungal, Antiviral and Antibacterial Effects
Being one of the best natural fruits for medicinal purposes, tamarind extract contains antibacterial and antimicrobial properties, making it a popular ingredient for traditional medication. With antibiotic resistance becoming a prominent factor in recent times, natural medications including tamarind extract become more popular.
Keep in Mind
Tamarind is a great fruit to add to your diet as it is dense with healthy nutrients that can boost your recommended daily intake of vitamins and minerals. The only thing to be mindful of is to not take too much of the candy form or heavily refined concentrates of it as the tamarind fruit itself is already high in sugar.
If you have an existing health condition where you are sensitive to sugar intake, speak with your doctor on whether tamarind is ideal for you or how you can incorporate it into your diet.
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