Tamarind is a hardwood tree known scientifically as Tamarindus indica. It's native to India, Pakistan and many other tropical regions. As it ripens, the juicy pulp becomes paste-like and more sweet-sour. The polyphenols in tamarind have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. These can protect against diseases such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes. Available whole, crushed, or ground into powder.
How Is It Used?
This fruit has many uses. It's used for cooking, health and household purposes.
Cooking Uses :
- Tamarind pulp is widely used for cooking in South and Southeast Asia, Mexico, the Middle East and the Caribbean. The seeds and leaves are also edible.
- It is used in sauces, marinades, chutneys, drinks and desserts. It's also one of the ingredients of Worcestershire sauce.
Medicinal Uses :
- Tamarind has played an important role in traditional medicine.
- In beverage form, it was commonly used to treat diarrhea, constipation, fever and peptic ulcers. The bark and leaves were also used to promote wound healing.
- Modern researchers are now studying this plant for potential medicinal uses.
- The polyphenols in tamarind have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. These can protect against diseases such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes.
- The seed extract may also help lower blood sugar, while the pulp extract may help you lose body weight and reverse fatty liver disease.
Home Uses : Tamarind pulp can also be used as a metal polish. It contains tartaric acid, which helps remove tarnish from copper and bronze.
It Is High in Nutrients : Tamarind is high in many nutrients. A single cup (120 grams) of the pulp contains
- Magnesium - 28% of the RDI.
- Potassium - 22% of the RDI.
- Iron - 19% of the RDI.
- Calcium - 9% of the RDI.
- Phosphorus - 14% of the RDI.
- Vitamin B1 (thiamin) - 34% of the RDI.
- Vitamin B2 (riboflavin) - 11% of the RDI.
- Vitamin B3 (niacin) - 12% of the RDI.
- Trace amounts of vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), folate, vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid), copper and selenium.
Different Forms of Tamarind :
- Tamarind is available in prepared forms, such as candy and sweetened syrup.
- You can also find the pure fruit in three main forms -
- Raw pods - These pods are the least processed form of tamarind. They're still intact and can be easily opened to remove the pulp.
- Pressed block - To make these, the shell and seeds are removed and the pulp is compressed into a block. These blocks are one step away from raw tamarind.
- Concentrate - Tamarind concentrate is pulp that has been boiled down. Preservatives may also be added.
Its Antioxidants May Boost Heart Health :
- This fruit may boost heart health in several ways.
- It contains polyphenols like flavonoids, some of which can help regulate cholesterol levels.
- One study in hamsters with high cholesterol found that tamarind fruit extract lowered total cholesterol, LDL ("bad") cholesterol and triglycerides.
- The antioxidants in this fruit can help reduce oxidative damage to LDL cholesterol, which is a key driver of heart disease.
It's High in Beneficial Magnesium :
- Tamarind is also relatively high in magnesium.
- One ounce (28 grams), or a little less than 1/4 cup of pulp, delivers 6% of the RDI.
- Magnesium has many health benefits and plays a role in more than 600 body functions. It can also help lower blood pressure and has anti-inflammatory and anti-diabetic effects.
- However, 48% of people in the US do not get enough magnesium.
It May Have Anti-fungal, Antiviral and Antibacterial Effects :
- Tamarind extract contains natural compounds that have antimicrobial effects.
- In fact, studies show that this plant may have anti-fungal, antiviral and antibacterial activity.
- It has also been used in traditional medicine to treat diseases like malaria.
- A compound called lupeol is credited with tamarind's antibacterial effects.
- Because antibiotic resistance is increasing these days, researchers are particularly interested in using medicinal plants to fight bacteria.