By: Pallavi Vathiar. Practicing Clinical Nutritionist.
Tamarind is a hardwood tree known scientifically as Tamarindus indica. It’s native to Africa but also grows in India, Pakistan and many other tropical regions. The tree produces bean-like pods filled with seeds surrounded by a fibrous pulp. The pulp of the young fruit is green and sour. As it ripens, the juicy pulp becomes paste-like and more sweet-sour. Interestingly, tamarind is sometimes referred to as the “Date of India”.
Tamarind pulp is widely used for cooking as its seeds and leaves are edible. It is used in sauces, marinades, chutneys, drinks and desserts. It’s also one of the ingredients of Worcestershire sauce.
In beverage form, it was commonly used to treat diarrhoea, constipation, fever and peptic ulcers.
The bark and leaves were also used to promote wound healing. The polyphenols in tamarind have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. These can protect against diseases such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes. The seed extract may also help lower blood sugar, while the pulp extract may help you lose body weight and reverse fatty liver disease (1).
Tamarind pulp can also be used as a metal polish. It contains tartaric acid, which helps remove tarnish from copper and bronze.
The following nutrition information for 1 cup (120g) of raw tamarind pulp is provided by the USDA (2)
- Calories: 287
- Fat: 0.7g
- Sodium: 34 mg
- Carbohydrates: 75g
- Fibre: 6.1g
- Sugars: 46.6g
- Protein: 3.4g
- Potassium: 754mg
- Vitamin C: 4.2mg
- Weight loss
A study published in the Scientia Pharmaceutica journal suggests that tamarind water extract can help reduce obesity (3).
One of the unique compounds called trypsin inhibitors, found in tamarind, may help in reducing your hunger (4). This protein has been known to suppress the appetite by increasing the release of the neurotransmitter serotonin (5). The extracts of this fruit show promising signs as a weight-loss supplement.
Lupeol, found in tamarind leaves, possesses anti-inflammatory, according to a study done at the University of Wisconsin-Madison (6). The essential oil of tamarind has been connected to several 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 (7).
- Boosts Immunity
One study published in Elsevier’s LWT – Food Science and Technology journal sheds light on the potent antioxidant properties of tamarind. Antioxidants make tamarind a wonderful way to boost your immunity, which helps to stave off microbial and fungal infections. It also reduces the occurrence of parasites in the body due to its antiseptic and antimicrobial effects. It has specifically been linked to eliminating stomach worms in children in tropical areas where it is cultivated (8).
Ways To Consume
- 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 (9).