6 Science-Backed Benefits of Tamarind

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

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The well-studied health benefits of tamarind include its ability to reduce inflammation in the body, protect your heart health, and improve digestion. It may also help in weight loss, and protect you against parasites and worms by boosting your immunity.

What is Tamarind?

Tamarind is a tropical fruit and its trees are native to tropical regions of Africa, specifically Sudan. It grows in many regions like India and Pakistan. It is a member of the Fabaceae family and the scientific name of tamarind is Tamarindus indica. 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!

Tamarind Taste

Tamarind is a delicious sweet and sour fruit that has a wide variety of uses, both for medicinal and culinary purposes. As it has both a sweet and sour taste, people either tend to immediately like it or have a natural disposition against it.

Watch Video: 7 Amazing Benefits of Tamarind

7 Amazing Benefits of Including Tamarind In your Diet | Organic Facts

Nutrition Facts

Tamarinds, raw
Serving Size :
NutrientValue
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, raw tamarind provides energy (calories) along with essential minerals like potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, calcium, iron, sodium, and zinc. It also contains vitamin C, B-vitamins (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.

Protects Heart Health

A study published in the Food and Chemical Toxicology journal has shown that tamarind may help in reducing blood pressure and bad cholesterol. The fiber content in the sour fruit, probably, helps 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.

One more research published in 2013 found that tamarind fruit pulp exerts its hypocholesterolemic effect by increasing cholesterol outflow, enhancing LDL cholesterol clearance, suppressing triglyceride accumulation and inhibiting cholesterol biosynthesis. Moreover, it also projects light on the potential antioxidative effects of tamarind which can protect against diet-induced hypercholesterolemia.

Improves Digestion

The tamarind fruit 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 ensures that food runs through your digestive tract smoothly, 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.

Weight Loss

A study published in the Scientia Pharmaceutica journal suggests that tamarind water extract can help reduce obesity.

One of the unique compounds called trypsin inhibitors, found in tamarind, may help in reducing your hunger. This protein has been known to suppress the appetite by increasing the release of the neurotransmitter serotonin. Research is still ongoing in these respective areas, but tamarind extracts show promising signs as a weight-loss supplement!

Sweet ripe tamarind pods with leaflets on a wooden background

Manages Diabetes

A carbohydrate-heavy diet can increase the chances of uncontrolled glucose and insulin levels, which is a significant concern for those suffering from diabetes.

Tamarind can inhibit the enzyme alpha-amylase, which mainly stops carbohydrates from being absorbed in the body. It 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.

How to Eat Tamarind?

There are many different ways to consume this nutritious fruit.

  • You can have it raw as a fruit.
  • You can add it to desserts once it is fully ripe.
  • While making soups or curries, you can add dried tamarind spice.
  • To make your sauces tart, you can add tamarind pulp.

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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