7 Amazing Benefits of Tamarind

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated -

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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. Tamarind also relieves pain, strengthens the immune system, reduces fever, lowers cholesterol to improve cardiovascular health, treats piles, and protects against parasites and worms.

What is Tamarind?

Tamarind is a member of the Fabaceae family and its scientific name is Tamarindus indica. The tamarind tree is indigenous to tropical regions of Africa, particularly Sudan, but its cultivation has spread to almost all tropical areas of the world since it is such a useful and desirable source of nutrition that also comes with a unique flavor.

It has been cultivated for thousands of years and likely made its way to Asia about 5,000 years ago. It wasn’t until 500 years ago that it made its way to the Americas via 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 characterized by long, brown shells. Inside is a sticky, fleshy, and juicy pulp, which is the tamarind fruit. This is where the nutrition and taste reside! As it is both sweet and sour in 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 is dried and processed into candies in some parts of the world
  • It is a normal 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 USDA, tamarind provides energy and sugar along with essential nutrients like potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, calcium, and vitamin C. It also contains iron, sodium, zinc, niacin, riboflavin, thiamin, folate, and vitamin 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 and its dietary fiber content is a major reason for this property. Eating it as a fruit or as a spice can increase the efficiency of your digestive system, as the 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, which can help dissolve food faster, and the fiber stimulates gastric juices to speed up digestion.

All of this together means that things run through your digestive tract faster, making it a powerful laxative if you are suffering from chronic constipation. Oddly enough, the fiber can also reduce loose stools, and studies have shown tamarind to be effective against chronic diarrhea as well!

Additionally, a study by Dr. Sila Bhattacharya, Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur, India, shows that the soluble protein and amino-acid composition of tamarind make it the best digestive.

Protects Heart Health

A study published in the Food and Chemical Toxicology journal on tamarind have shown it to be effective in reducing blood pressure and cholesterol. The fiber content in tamarind certainly has something to do with 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 since it is known as a vasodilator that reduces the stress on the cardiovascular system.

The impressive level of vitamin C in it also has something to do with it as well. Vitamin C 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 and a single serving can provide more than 10% of your daily requirement. A healthy supply of iron in the body guarantees proper red blood cell count in the body, which can ensure appropriate oxygenation of different muscles and organs to function properly. Also, iron deficiency results in anemia, which is characterized by weakness, fatigue, headaches, cognitive disorders, and stomach issues. So, eat plenty of tamarinds 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 within tamarind. Thiamine is responsible for improving nerve function, as well as muscle development, which can help you remain active, maintain your reflexes, and stay strong.

Weight Loss

One of the unique compounds that can be extracted from tamarind or gained as a benefit from it when used as a 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 to store fat. 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 stop weight gain, it also inhibits the enzyme alpha-amylase, which mainly stops carbohydrates from being absorbed. A carbohydrate-heavy diet can increase the chances of uncontrolled glucose and insulin levels, which is the biggest problem for people suffering from diabetes. Tamarind can help to monitor and control these fluctuations.

According to a study conducted at the Center for Magnesium Education & Research, Hawaii, almost half (48%) of the US population consumed less than the required amount of magnesium, which is the cause of various diseases including type-2 diabetes. Thus, the high content of magnesium in tamarind further helps to alleviate diabetes.

Health benefits of tamarind - infographic

Anti-inflammatory Capacity

Lupeol found in tamarind 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 abilities, 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

Dr. P. Siddhuraju in his study published in Elsevier’s LWT – Food Science and Technology journal throws light on the potent antioxidant properties of tamarind. Thus, enormous antioxidants, as well as high levels of vitamin C, make tamarind a wonderful way to boost your immune system, keeping you away from 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: The main concern is that tamarind lowers blood pressure and is a blood thinner, so it can be difficult to reduce bleeding in case something happens. If you are taking aspirin or other blood thinners, be careful while ingesting an excessive amount of tamarind.

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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