7 Amazing Benefits of Tamarind

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated - Medically reviewed by Vanessa Voltolina (MS, RD)

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The health benefits of tamarind have been well-studied, and they include its ability to reduce inflammation throughout the body, improve vision, boost respiratory health, heal skin conditions, and improve the digestive system. It may also help lower cholesterol to improve cardiovascular health, treat piles, and protect against parasites and worms.

What is Tamarind?

A member of the Fabaceae family, the scientific name for the tamarind is Tamarindus indica. The tamarind tree is native to tropical regions of Africa, specifically Sudan. However, its farming has spread to almost all tropical areas of the world due to its unique flavor and nutritional value.

It has been cultivated for thousands of years, likely made its way to Asia about 5,000 years ago. It wasn’t until about 500 years ago that it made its way to the Americas by Spanish explorers. South America and Mexico are now the largest consumers and producers of this fruit in the world.

Tamarind taste

Tamarind is a delicious sweet and sour fruit that has a wide variety of uses, both for medicinal and culinary purposes. It is a medium-sized bushy tree with evergreen leaves and a fruit that develops in pods. Its pods are characterized by long, brown shells. Inside the pods is sticky, fleshy, and juicy pulp, which is the tamarind fruit. This is where nutrition and taste reside! As it has both a sweet and sour taste, people either tend to immediately like it or have a natural disposition against it.

How to eat tamarind?

There are many different ways to consume this nutritious fruit.

  • It can be consumed raw.
  • It can be added to desserts once it is fully ripe.
  • It can be dried and ground into a spice.
  • It is often used in jams and sauces.
  • It can be dried and processed into candies.
  • It is a typical ingredient in soups and dishes throughout Asia and South America, owing to the health benefits this little seed pod contains.

Let’s find out more about the components that make it such a powerful and essential part of your diet!

Watch Video: 7 Amazing Benefits of Tamarind

Nutrition Facts

Tamarinds, raw
Serving Size :
Water [g]31.4
Energy [kcal]239
Protein [g]2.8
Total lipid (fat) [g]0.6
Carbohydrate, by difference [g]62.5
Fiber, total dietary [g]5.1
Sugars, total [g]38.8
Calcium, Ca [mg]74
Iron, Fe [mg]2.8
Magnesium, Mg [mg]92
Phosphorus, P [mg]113
Potassium, K [mg]628
Sodium, Na [mg]28
Zinc, Zn [mg]0.1
Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid [mg]3.5
Thiamin [mg]0.43
Riboflavin [mg]0.15
Niacin [mg]1.94
Vitamin B-6 [mg]0.07
Folate, DFE [µg]14
Vitamin B-12 [µg]0
Vitamin A, RAE [µg]2
Vitamin A, IU [IU]30
Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) [mg]0.1
Vitamin D (D2 + D3) [µg]0
Vitamin D [IU]0
Vitamin K (phylloquinone) [µg]2.8
Fatty acids, total saturated [g]0.27
Fatty acids, total monounsaturated [g]0.18
Fatty acids, total polyunsaturated [g]0.06
Fatty acids, total trans [g]0
Cholesterol [mg]0
Caffeine [mg]0
Sources include : USDA

Tamarind Nutrition Facts

According to the USDA National Nutrient Database, tamarind provides energy (calories) along with essential nutrients like potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, calcium, and vitamin C. It also contains iron, sodium, zinc, B-vitamins (niacin, riboflavin, thiamin, folate); and vitamins A and K. There are also a number of organic compounds that make it a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent.

Tamarind Benefits

The health benefits of tamarind are explained in greater detail below.

Improves Digestion

Tamarind has long been considered a natural laxative, given its dietary fiber content. Eating it as a fruit or as a spice can increase the efficiency of your digestive system, as the insoluble fiber can bulk up your stool, making it move through the smooth muscles of the intestinal tract easily. It is also a bilious substance, meaning that it stimulates the activity of bile and bile acids, which aids in the absorption of fats and fat-soluble vitamins in the small intestine.

This combination of digestive events together means that food runs through your digestive tract faster, making it a powerful laxative if you are suffering from chronic constipation. Tamarind also contains some soluble fiber which has the opposite effect of insoluble fiber, assisting in reducing loose stools. Studies have shown the tropical fruit to be effective against chronic diarrhea as well.

Additionally, a study in the journal Food Chemistry found that the soluble protein and amino-acid composition of the fruit make it the best digestive.

Protects Heart Health

A study published in the Food and Chemical Toxicology journal has shown tamarind to have potential in reducing blood pressure and cholesterol. The fiber content in the sour fruit certainly plays a role with its potential for the reduction in cholesterol, since it is known to scrap excess LDL cholesterol from the veins and arteries. The potassium in tamarind may be responsible for a reduction in blood pressure as well since it is known as a vasodilator that reduces the stress on the cardiovascular system.

Vitamin C-containing tamarind is an antioxidant that can reduce the impact of free radicals, the pesky by-products of cellular metabolism that have been linked to heart diseases and a number of other health conditions.

Improves Circulation

Tamarind is a very good source of iron, with a single serving providing more than 10 percent of your daily requirement. A healthy supply of iron in the body guarantees proper red blood cell count, which can ensure appropriate oxygenation of different muscles and organs to function properly. Also, iron deficiency results in anemia, characterized by weakness, fatigue, headaches, cognitive disorders, and stomach issues. So, eat plenty of it to keep anemia at bay!

Sweet ripe tamarind pods with leaflets on a wooden background

Improves Nerve Function

One of the most significant vitamins in tamarind is the B-complex. Thiamine, an important part of the vitamin B family, is found in high quantities in this fruit. Thiamine is responsible for improving nerve function, as well as muscle development, which can help you remain active, maintain reflexes, and stay strong.

Weight Loss

One of the unique compounds that can be extracted from tamarind or found in the tamarind spice is called hydroxycitric acid (HCA). HCA is connected to weight loss because it has been shown to inhibit an enzyme in the body that specifically helps in fat storage. Furthermore, it has been known to suppress the appetite by increasing the neurotransmitter serotonin. Research is still ongoing in these respective areas, but it shows promising signs as a weight loss supplement!

Manages Diabetes

Along with its ability to thwart weight gain, it also inhibits the enzyme alpha-amylase, which mainly stops carbohydrates from being absorbed in the body. A carbohydrate-heavy diet can increase the chances of uncontrolled glucose and insulin levels, which is a significant issue for those suffering from diabetes. Tamarind may help control these fluctuations as per a study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology in 2004.

According to a study published in Nutrition Reviews, almost half (48 percent) of the US population consumed less than the required amount of magnesium from 2005-2006, which is the cause of various diseases including type-2 diabetes. Thus, the high content of magnesium in tamarind may further help to prevent or alleviate diabetes.

Anti-inflammatory Capacity

Lupeol, found in tamarind leaves, possesses anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties, according to a study done at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison. The essential oil of tamarind has been connected to a number of anti-inflammatory capabilities, including the reduction of joint pain and inflammation, arthritis, rheumatic conditions, and gout. It also reduces eye irritation – one of the most common forms of which is conjunctivitis, also known as pink eye. It has shown a definite soothing and anti-inflammatory ability and is, therefore, used in many herbal remedies for inflammation.

Boosts Immunity

One study published in Elsevier’s LWT – Food Science and Technology journal sheds light on the potent antioxidant properties of tamarind. Thus, enormous amounts of antioxidants as well as high levels of vitamin C, make tamarind a wonderful way to boost your immune system, staving off microbial and fungal infections. It also reduces the occurrence of parasites in the body due to its antiseptic and antimicrobial effects. Tamarind has specifically been linked to eliminating stomach worms in children in tropical areas where it is cultivated.

Word of Caution: Tamarind lowers blood pressure and is a blood thinner, so it can be difficult to reduce bleeding. If you are taking aspirin or other blood thinners – keep this in mind, and be sure not to ingest an excessive amount of tamarind.

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About the Author

John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, and publisher who earned his English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign, Urbana (USA). He is the co-founder of a literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and calls the most beautiful places in the world his office. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.

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