Tamarind is an exotic fruit with a sour taste that has several beneficial properties especially in the case of intestinal irregularities and abdominal pain. Let’s discover all the benefits of tamarind.
Tamarind (also known as Indian date) is an exotic fruit tree. The fruit, in particular the pulp, brings numerous properties to health. The only specimen of the genus Tamarindus, it belongs to the legume family, which includes, among others, the bean, the pea, the lentil, the broad bean and the peanuts.
This plant is widespread in tropical areas. In particular, it is grown in 50 different states on our continent: in some Asian countries such as India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Indonesia; in Central America (for example in Costa Rica) and in some West African countries where, thanks to its medicinal properties, it contributes to the maintenance of a good state of health of the population present there.
The tamarind tree is an evergreen capable of reaching up to 30 meters in height and growing even in very poor soils. As we can guess from the term “legumes”, the fruit of this tree is a legume: a pod with a shape similar to a sausage, about 10 cm long, light brown or green in color and containing some seeds surrounded by a dark brown pulp which makes up 55% of the whole fruit.
The most used part of the tamarind fruit is precisely the pulp, with a sour taste, which is used to spice various dishes, to produce different sauces or for the production of a characteristic drink very widespread in Sicily.
Usually the tamarind seed is considered a by-product although some studies show its usefulness both in the food and in the industrial field.
Tamarind: characteristics and nutritional values
All parts of the tamarind, from the fiber-rich pod, to the seeds and pulp rich in proteins and flavonoids, have a high nutritional importance.
These legumes have a slightly different composition than the legumes we are used to consume: the protein content, in fact, is significantly lower.
In this regard reports that tamarind can be considered a source of all essential amino acids, with the exception of tryptophan.
Their consumption also provides a good amount of nutrients and in particular of fiber: 5 grams of fiber per 100 grams of food, equal to 1/5 of the fibers recommended daily by our guidelines for a healthy diet.
Furthermore, phytochemical analyzes revealed that this food is rich in some phenolic compounds with antioxidant action such as catechins, b2 procyanidins and tartaric acid. Let’s now take a look at the nutritional values and properties of tamarind.
Nutritional values per 100g of tamarind:
- Waterfall: 31.40 g
- kcal: 239
- Proteins: 2.8 g
- Fat: 0.60 g
- of which saturated: 0.272 g
- Carbohydrates: 62.50 g
- of which sugars: 38.80 g
- Fibers: 5.1 g
- Potassium: 628 mg
- Phosphorus: 113 mg
- Magnesium: 92 mg
- Iron: 2.8 mg
- C vitamin: 3.5 mg
- Vitamin E: 0.10 mg
- Glycemic index: 32
- Cholesterol: 0 g
Tamarind: nutritional properties
As we have anticipated, tamarind is an important source of many nutrients and an economically sustainable source of protein. This latter reason makes it a very consumed food in areas of the world where protein malnutrition is a widespread problem. The most represented micronutrients give tamarind various properties. In particular, the fruit is a good source of: magnesium (100 grams of tamarind provide a quantity of magnesium equal to 40% of the recommended daily amount for an adult man), iron (whose recommended daily intake for an adult man is 10 mgr and for a fertile woman it is equal to 18 mgr), potassium (for which a daily intake of 3.9 g is recommended) and phosphorus (tamarind contains about 19% of the average daily requirement). Below we list the main properties and functions of these minerals, so abundantly represented in this food.
- Magnesium: mineral with multiple properties, essential for the well-being of the nervous system, for the construction of the skeleton and for the metabolism of fats;
- Iron: the deficiency of which can lead to fatigue, anemia and difficulty in contracting infections;
- Phosphorus: mineral essential for the energy metabolism of cells and for the construction of proteins;
- Potassium: mineral involved in various physiological processes such as muscle contraction, the maintenance of a correct hydro-saline balance and the regulation of blood pressure.
Tamarind: health benefits
Thanks to its beneficial properties, this exotic fruit is widely used in traditional medicine of tropical countries. In particular, the properties of tamarind make it suitable for use in cases of abdominal pain, fever, diarrhea, constipation and respiratory problems. Let’s deepen below what are the main benefits of tamarind.
✓ Laxative effect
Tamarind is widely used as a laxative due to its content in potassium, tartaric acid and malic acid. According to a recent review, the laxative effects are carried out both by the fruit and by the leaves left to macerate. In this regard, there are various syrups or jams based on tamarind with a laxative effect on the market.
✓ Against diarrhea
Tamarind pulp and its root are used in traditional medicine for the treatment of diarrhea and dysentery.
✓ Antioxidant properties
As anticipated in the previous paragraph, tamarind is rich in antioxidant substances. For this reason, according to a study, its consumption has a positive effect against some cancers.
✓ Antimicrobial effect
Tamarind has shown anti-microbial activity against some moderately widespread pathogens such as Klebsiella pneumoniae, Salmonella paratyphi, Bacillus subtilis, Salmonella typhi, Escherichia coli and Staphylococcus aureus.
✓ Tamarind against fever and malaria
In several countries of the African continent, tamarind is used to treat malaria and as a febrifuge, or to lower fever.
✓ Benefits in case of diabetes and high cholesterol
Tamarind appears to be useful in the treatment of diabetes: studies in rats have shown that the administration of an aqueous extract of tamarind resulted in a significant lowering of blood sugar in diabetic mice. Likewise, the blood cholesterol level also appears to be reduced by the consumption of this food.
Tamarindo: how to use it
In the kitchen, tamarind pulp is widely used, which can be useful for flavoring various dishes: from potatoes, to rice, to Sambhar, an Indian vegetable and lentil soup.
In some ethnic shops, sometimes, it is possible to find the fruit of the tamarind, from which it is possible to extract the dark pulp. The same pulp is also used to prepare the tamarind-based drink : just let the pulp rest in water for a few hours, then add sugar and lemon and let it boil for 15/20 minutes before filtering.
In the cosmetic field, tamarind seems to have important anti-aging effects. In fact, it would seem that its use is comparable to that of hyaluronic acid in the treatment of wrinkles.
Tamarind: contraindications and potential negative effects
Let’s see now what are the contraindications of tamarind. The consumption of this fruit is not associated with any negative effects, however its seeds contain a moderate amount of tannins, which make digestion more difficult. For this reason, the consumption of tamarind (especially seeds) should be discouraged or limited in case of intestinal problems. In case of digestive difficulties, abdominal bloating or aerophagia it is always advisable to consult a specialist.
In addition, tamarind interacts with ibuprofen and acetylsalicylic acid (components of common anti-inflammatory drugs) increasing their bioavailability: it is therefore advisable to contact a trusted doctor to agree on the possible consumption in case of pharmacological treatments.