tamarind

Tamarind Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits

The tamarind tree is much prized in many parts of the world for its beauty and its fruit. Tamarinds are leguminous trees because they produce fruit in the form of a bean-like pod. This bean contains a sour pulp that becomes very sweet as it ripens. People eat the fruit raw and also use its pulp in cooking.

The leaves, beans, bark, and wood of the tamarind tree have a wide variety of uses. Tamarind is an ingredient in Worcestershire sauce and is used in many dishes in Asia, South and Central America, Africa, and the Caribbean. It appears in many chutneys, sauces, candies, and drinks.

The sticky pulp of the brown pods has a sweet and sour flavor. It provides tang and acidity to entrees such as pad Thai and to chutneys, desserts, beverages, syrups, sauces, and candy. It is a low-glycemic fruit and contains many beneficial micronutrients making it a nutritious whole food ingredient.

How does it work?

Tamarind contains ingredients that might have laxative effects and some activity against certain fungi and bacteria.

Researchers are studying tamarind as a possible treatment for dry eyes because it contains a chemical that is similar to mucin found in the eye. Mucin helps protect and wet the surface of the cornea.

Tamarind Nutrition Facts

The following nutrition information for 1 cup (120g) of raw tamarind pulp is provided by the USDA.

  • Calories: 287
  • Fat: 0.7g
  • Sodium: 34 mg
  • Carbohydrates: 75g
  • Fiber: 6.1g
  • Sugars: 46.6g
  • Protein: 3.4g
  • Potassium: 754mg
  • Vitamin C: 4.2mg

Carbs
While 1 cup of tamarind pulp has 75 grams of carbohydrates (nearly 47 grams of sugar), the fruit’s glycemic load is low, meaning it doesn’t cause blood sugar to spike.

Pure tamarind usually contains no added sugar or other ingredients, but always be sure to check the label. Tamarind is a popular ingredient in candy, drinks, syrup, and sauces, such as barbecue sauce—all of which often have added sugar.

Fats
Tamarind has a negligible amount of fat, less than 1 gram per 120 grams of pulp.

Protein
Tamarind provides some protein, but not as much as other members of the legume family.

Vitamins and Minerals
Tamarind is an excellent source of vitamin B, vitamin C, potassium, magnesium, iron, thiamine, phosphorus, riboflavin, and fiber.

Health Benefits

People use tamarind in traditional medicine, but its therapeutic uses need more exploration. Tamarind pulp contains a variety of nutrients that can boost your health.

Tamarind is a traditional medicine remedy with a long list of uses, including treatment of sore throats, constipation, and sunstroke. Animal studies have shown that tamarind may help lower cholesterol and blood sugar,6 but no research on humans is available. However, some evidence exists for other health benefits.

Tissue Health

Amino acids, the building blocks of protein, are necessary for the body to grow and repair tissues. Some amino acids are essential, meaning that the body can’t synthesize them, so people must get them from food. Tamarind contains significant amounts of all the essential amino acids except tryptophan. It meets the standards of the World Health Organization for an ideal protein for the other amino acids. Researchers are unsure, however, how well the body can absorb all the nutrients found in tamarind.

Relieves Pain

While eating tamarind pulp alone does not offer pain relief, there is evidence that extracts made from many parts of the plant might help with pain. For example, one 2013 study found that extracts from tamarind seed could help ease arthritis pain.

Brain Health

The category of B vitamins contains eight different vitamins that function similarly. All are water-soluble so the body doesn’t store them. You should be able to get enough B vitamins in your diet without resorting to supplements. The entire range of B vitamins is essential for good health. They are especially necessary for proper functioning of the brain and nervous system. Tamarind is rich in B vitamins, especially thiamine and folate. Like other plants, tamarind does not contain B12.

Helps in weight loss

Tamarind is rich in fibre and has no fat content. Studies suggest that eating tamarind daily might actually help in weight reduction since it contains flavonoids and polyphenols. Also, tamarind is loaded with hydroxycitric acid, which reduces your appetite by inhibiting amylase, an enzyme responsible for converting carbohydrate into fat.

Prevents peptic ulcers

Peptic ulcers can be very painful. These are basically sores that appear in the inner lining of the stomach and small intestine. Thanks to the polyphenolic compounds found in tamarind, this fruit can prevent these ulcers.

Effective in managing diabetes

Tamarind seed extracts are anti-inflammatory in nature and they are even said to stabilize blood sugar levels and reverse the damage of the pancreatic tissue in those suffering from diabetes. The enzyme alpha-amylase which is proven to reduce blood sugar levels can also be found in tamarind.

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Helps with digestion

Tamarind has been used since ancient times as a laxative because of its tartaric acid, malic acid, and potassium content. Its ability to relax abdominal muscles is why it is also used as a remedy for diarrhoea. So, while the fruit is used to relieve constipation, the leaves provide treatment from diarrhoea, and the root and bark can be consumed to alleviate abdominal pain.

It can help you deal with allergies

It is an effective way to deal with allergic asthma and cough because of its antihistaminic properties. It’s also a rich source of vitamin C and can boost the immune system to prevent cold and cough.

How to eat tamarind

There are several ways to enjoy tamarind. It can be used in sweet and savory dishes or eaten straight from the pod.

You can enjoy this fruit in several ways.

One is to simply eat the fruit from the raw pods, as shown in this video.

You can also use tamarind paste in cooking. You can either prepare it from the pods or purchase it as a block.

The paste is often mixed with sugar to make candy. Tamarind can also be used to make condiments like chutney.

Additionally, you can use the frozen, unsweetened pulp or sweetened tamarind syrup for cooking.

You may also use this fruit to add a sour note to savory dishes, instead of lemon.

Bottom Line

Tamarind is a popular sweet and sour fruit used worldwide.

It has many beneficial nutrients.

Two of the best ways to enjoy this fruit are to eat it raw or to use it as an ingredient in savory dishes.

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