What does tamarind taste like and its health benefits

Know in one minute about Tamarind benefits

  • Rich sources of vitamin C, iron, and other antioxidants.
  • Natural anti-aging agents which lighten and hydrate skin as well as reduce wrinkle.
  • Reduce pain, inflammation, and high blood pressure problems.
  • Treat obesity, diabetes, anemia, Alzheimer’s disease, and clotting disorders.
  • Treat stomach pain, ulcers, diarrhea, and dysentery as well as improve bowel movements.
  • Lower cholesterol levels and fat accumulation in the arteries.
  • Good for the eye, heart, liver, kidney, and stomach.
  • It helps to remove fluoride from the body and prevent infection by bacteria.

Introduction

Tamarind (Tamarindus indica L; family Leguminosae) is an indigenous fruit tree that grows up to 20–30 m tall. Its various parts such as seeds, root, leaves, bark, and fruits have been extremely used in traditional India and African medication. Tamarind benefits are used in jaundice, in the liver complaints, as an acid refrigerant, as a gentle laxative, in yellow fever, as a blood tonic, and as a skin cleanser. 

There are two main types of tamarind: sour (the most common) and sweet (comes from Thailand). The fruit shows a reddish-brown color that turns black or black-brown. It becomes more aromatic and sour on ripening. The fruits contain pulp (30 %), seeds (40 %), and hull (30 %). The pulp is rich in sugar (30%–40%) than many other conventional and indigenous fruits. Tamarind fruit is mostly consumed fresh and is made into juice, brine, chutneys, sauces, jam, sweets, and preservatives. The fruit pulp possesses a sweet acidic taste which is due to the presence of high amounts of reducing sugars and tartaric acid. 

Geographical distribution

It is indigenous to tropical Africa.  However, it has become naturalized in North and South America from Florida to Brazil.  It is also grown in subtropical China, India, Pakistan, Indochina, Philippines, Java, and Spain (1).

Common name

The word tamarind derived from the Arabic “Tamar-u’l-Hind” (Tamere-Hind means date of India) as the pulp of these fruits is similar to dried dates. It is known by various name to include 

  • Ambli, Imlii (in Hindi) 
  • Indian date, Sweet tamarind (in English)
  • Tamarind, Tetul (in Bangladesh)
  • Tamarindo (in Brazil, Cuba, Madagascar and Canary Islands)
  • Manhan (China)
  • Tamarindo (Cuba)
  • Asam Jawa, Asem, Kaju Asam, Pokok asam jawa (in Indonesia and Malaysia) 
  • Tamarind (in Japan)
  • Hamer (Saudi Arabia)

Nutritional value of Tamarind

According to the USDA tamarind benefits are due to nutrients like fiber, carbohydrate, iron, protein, calcium, phosphorus, vitamin C, etc  (2)

Compound Amounts per 100 g.
Water  31.4 g
Energy  239 Kcal
Protein  2.8 g
Total lipid (fat)  0.6 g
Carbohydrate 62.5 g
Fiber, total dietary  5.1 g
Sugar 38.8 g
Calcium 74 mg
Iron, Fe  2.8 mg
Magnesium  92 mg
Phosphorus  113 mg
Potassium  628 mg
Sodium   28 mg
Zinc  0.1 mg
Copper  0.08 mg
Vitamin C 3.5 mg
Thiamin  0.43 mg
Riboflavin 0.15 mg
Niacin 1.94 mg
Pantothenic acid 0.14 mg
Vitamin B-6 0.06 mg
Folate 14 µg
Vitamin A, RAE 2 µg
Vitamin A, IU 30 IU
Vitamin K  2.8 µg
Fatty acids, total saturated  0.27 g
Fatty acids, total monounsaturated  0.18 g
Fatty acids, total polyunsaturated  0.059 g

Tamarind Benefits

Some of the tamarind benefits are as follows

1. Rich in nutrients

Tamarind benefits are because of vitamin C (ascorbic acid) and β‐carotenoids, tartaric, malic, and citric acids as well as sugars.   Thus tamarind consumption can prevent the risk of scurvy and pellagra in humans (3).

2. Antimicrobial properties

Tamarind is highly effective against Staphylococcus aureus, Staphylococcus epidermidis, Bacillus subtilis, and Listeria monocytogenes. It also inhibits the growth of bacteria such as Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Pseudomonas sp., and Salmonella sp (4).

3. Anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties

Tamarind contains alkaloids, flavonoids, tannins, triterpenes, saponins, steroids glycosides, and polyphenols. These compounds help to treat body pain, stomach pain, and throat pain.  It also treats eye inflammation, bronchitis, etc (5).

4. Treat obesity and atherosclerosis

Tamarind (15 mg/kg body weight)  contains polyphenolic and flavonoid compounds that help to decrease body weight (6). It also reduces cholesterol, triglycerides levels, and prevents fat accumulation in the arteries. Apart from this, it also increases high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol levels (7).

5. Reduce blood pressure

Tamarind benefits also include lowering blood pressure (8).

6. Treat Arthritis and Septic arthritis

Arthritis is a joint disorder caused by the degradation of bone and cartilage. Tamarind seed contains procyanidin B2, catechin, rutin, and embelin.  It can protect bone and cartilage, reduces inflammation, and associated stress (9).

Septic arthritis is a painful infection in a joint caused by Staphylococcus aureus. Tamarind leaves contain vitamin C, α-carotene, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, and magnesium. These compounds help to treat septic arthritis not only in animals but also in human beings  (10).

7. Keep skin healthy

Tamarind seed contains a high amount of phenolic content that acts as a skin lightener agent. This seed inhibits melanin production and lightens dark patches thus treating hyperpigmentation. (11).  Besides tamarind seed extract, loaded cream increases the water content in the skin and reduces facial wrinkles. This water content provides a smoother look and protects the skin from aging (12).

8. Treat diabetes

Tamarind seed ingestion helps to reduce blood sugar levels. Also, the continued intake of this seed extracts for long-term restores the enzymes to a normal level that causes diabetes (13). Furthermore, tamarind seed also helps to treat metabolic syndrome due to its improved insulin action (14).

9. Antioxidant properties

Tamarind seed contains a good amount of polyphenols that enhance antioxidant activities. It also protects against oxidative damage (15). Also, tamarind fruit is rich in polyphenolic content which regulates neutrophils thus protecting it from various infections (16).

10. Treat indigestion

Tamarind fruit contains a high amount of malic acid, tartaric acid, and potassium content. This compound acts as a laxative agent that loose stools and increased bowel movements thus treat constipation. Apart from this, its seeds are the most abundant source of xyloglucan and soluble fiber in nature. It helps to treat abdominal pain, heal ulcerative colitis, and enhance appetite  (17).

11. Treat diarrhea

Tamarind is an excellent source of flavonoids, alkaloids, tannins, cyanogenic glycosides, and anthraquinones.  These compounds show antibacterial activity against diarrhea-causing bacteria (18). Thus, tamarind helps to relax muscles, treat diarrhea and dysentery (19).

12. Treat ulcer

Peptic ulcer (mucosal damage) is painful gastrointestinal damage in the stomach and duodenum. Polyphenolic compounds, mainly procyanidin, epicatechin, and polymeric tannins found in tamarind seed prevent the development of an ulcer (20).

13. Protect the liver

Alcohol and other chemicals can cause liver diseases.  Tamarind seed and leaves help to inhibit lipid peroxidation (21). It also prevents cell damage and protects from liver injury  (22).

14. Treat anemia

Tamarind leaves contain flavonoids, phenols, and iron which help to increase hemoglobin and RBC count in anemic rats (23).

15. Treat Alzheimer’s disease and clotting disorders

Tamarind bark and seed both can treat Alzheimer’s disease by inhibiting cholinesterase enzyme activity. Furthermore, tamarind also helps to dissolve blood clots from the brain (24).

16. Good for the eye

Tamarind seed polysaccharide and hydrogel is very useful as an eye drops. It helps to relieve important problems of eyes such as dry eye syndrome, glaucoma, ocular burning, trouble blinking, and sensation (25). This polysaccharide also promotes corneal wound healing and treats bacterial keratitis (infection of the cornea that is caused by bacteria) (26).

17. Reduce fluoride toxicity

Fluoride mainly found in drinking water can harm health. Tamarind leaves and fruit decreases plasma fluoride concentration and ameliorate fluoride-induced liver and kidney damage (27).

Side effect of tamarind

A research study suggested that long term use of tamarind pulp does not cause any side effects thus recognized safe and well-tolerated (28). However, another study shows that a high dosage of tamarind for a long time may cause liver damage and dental erosion (29).

Moreover, tamarind seed contains tannin and the other compounds that make digestion difficult. Therefore, it is suggested to consume it after boiling or waiting inside the water (30).

Q &A

How does tamarind taste like?

Tamarind taste is sour, sweet, cool, and sharp, due to the presence of high amounts of reducing sugars and tartaric acid.

Is Tamarind good for weight loss?

Tamarind contains trypsin inhibitors that decrease food intake and suppress inflammation. Also, they contain flavonoids and polyphenols that could be responsible for weight reduction (31).

How much tamarind should I eat daily?

There is no recommended dosage available for tamarind, it can be used as per your requirement.  However, 10 g tamarind daily is best to reduce the excess fluoride content in the body (32).

Is Tamarind harmful to health?

Nope, tamarind is safe and well tolerable in a low amount. But intake of the long term may cause dental and liver problems.

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