The tamarind is widely distributed within the tropical regions – from Africa, Northern Australia, South and Southeast Asia, China, Taiwan, Mexico and in certain areas of South America. From being a component in savory dishes to a dessert ingredient, its culinary uses are as vibrant as the colorful flags of the countries where it grows.
It is used to add flavor in Worcestershire and HP sauces, chutneys in India, a sweet and sour Javanese dish called ikan asem, Pad Thai of Thailand and the savory Filipino soup dish called sinigang. It is also used for flavorful desserts, like the tambran balls of Latin Amaerica, various snacks in Mexico and jams and syrups in Guadeloupe. It is even used as a beverage ingredient in China, Egypt, Kenya and Turkey.
It might surprise you that within its small and hard pod, its pulp hosts a number of nutritional benefits. It is a good source of iron, magnesium, folate, niacin, protein, phosphorus and potassium. It also contains rich amounts of Vitamin C, Vitamin K, selenium, carotene and dietary favor. However, it should be taken in moderation because it is also high in calories and sugar.
Protects from Vitamin C Deficiency
Tamarind contains sufficient amounts of Vitamin C to as much as 6% of the daily needs or 44 mg in every 100 grams of its edible pulp. It helps prevent bleeding gums, which is a sign of lack of Vitamin C, helps to build immunity and keeps infections away. It also helps your body to combat a plethora of conditions, from the common colds to cardiovascular diseases.
Acts as a Mild Laxative
It can help provide instant relief for constipation and eliminate harmful toxins from the body. Thanks to its high dietary fiber content, it helps to regulate bowel movements and cleanses the digestive system with unwanted substances.
Zaps Harmful Free Radicals
Tamarind contains a unique and powerful antioxidant called tartaric acid. This is the same acid that gives it its sour flavor. At the same time, it helps protect your body from free radicals. Also, it contains a myriad of phytochemicals, which include limonene, geraniol, saffrol, cinnamic acid, methyl salicylate, pyrazine and alkylthiazoles. Phytochemicals work in so many different ways in protecting the body from harm with its antioxidant properties, prevention of cancer cells multiplication and anti-bacterial affects.
Blood Purifier and Prevents Anemia
Tamarind is an excellent blood purifier. Its rich iron and Vitamin B1 content helps to build healthy red blood cell generation. In addition, it is a rich source of iron, making it beneficial for treating anemia. Also, the Vitamin K and calcium in tamarind play a major role in the process of blood clotting in wounds and prevents excessive bleeding.
Controls Cholesterol Levels and Blood Pressure
The high potassium content of tamarind helps to reverse the negative effects of sodium in your blood and normalize blood pressure. It also helps to fight off and decrease cholesterol levels, specifically the bad LDL cholesterol while maintaining the good HDL cholesterol. This is all thanks to the thiamine and niacin content of tamarind. In effect, this helps promote healthy heart and prevent the risk of heart diseases.
Keeps Bones Strong
It is rich in B Vitamins that are essential in maintaining excellent bone health. Consuming tamarind also increases your magnesium intake. This, along with the high potassium content, can help result in better bone density. Also, the phosphorus and calcium that it contains promote for proper bone and skeletal structure, growth and repair.
Cures Bilious Disorders
It is also very efficient in curing bilious disorders. The fiber in tamarind binds with bile salts and decrease of its reabsorption into the colon. It indirectly has an effect in controlling the cholesterol levels in the body by excreting bad cholesterol from the body.
Prevents Diabetes and Promotes Weight Loss
Ironically, it is efficient in preventing diabetes and promoting weight loss despite its high sugar and calorie content. When taken in moderation, tamarind helps to lower high blood sugar levels in the blood, as it contains blood glucose lowering and carb fighting properties.
It also helps to deactivate and inhibit the activities of an enzyme called amylase, which is responsible for the absorption and storing of carbohydrates in the body as fats. In effect, it helps to lower blood sugar levels and has an effect in weight loss. Also, tamarind has absolutely no fat content and helps to prevent binge eating by balancing the serotonin levels, which is a neurotransmitter that affects mood control.
Other Health Benefits
In addition to these amazing health benefits, tamarind is also a great treatment for the following:
- Sore throat
- Rheumatism, swollen joints and pain
- Eye inflammation
- Jaundice and ulcer
The tamarind definitely spells abundance in a sense that it only can give. Sweet and sour flavors, extensive culinary uses and the long health benefits list, all of these are packed within its hard shell pods.