Tamarind (imli) forms a tasty component in our daily meals. It is used to prepare pickles, jams, syrups, sweets and even barbecue sauces and meat condiments. But the use of tamarind is not limited to taste enhancement alone! The presence of vital in tamarind has bestowed medicinal values to the fruit
Tamarind is a tropical tree, native to parts of Africa and India. The word "Tamarind" is derived from the Arabic "tamar", meaning a "dry date fruit". The tamarind fruit is a long 12-15 cm brown pod. Inside the pod of the tamarind is a soft, brown pulp with shiny black seeds. It is this pulp that people eat to get all the nutritional and health benefits of the tamarind. While it is young, the pulp has a very sour taste, but it gets sweeter as it ripens. Tamarind, being a rich source of ( and ), fiber, , , and other nutrients, provide many health benefits. Tamarind is used in Indian Medicine and has been found to treat gastric and/or digestion problems effectively. Some of the health benefits of tamarind include:
- Tamarind contains like carotenes, vitamin C, and . Another powerful antioxidant which is responsible for the sour taste of tamarind is tartaric acid. These antioxidants protect the body against cancer and the damaging effects of free radicals.
- The juice of tamarind act as a mild laxative. Tamarind pulp is a rich source of dietary fiber. The augment bowel movements and prevent constipation. 100 gm of tamarind fruit pulp provides around 13 percent of the daily value for dietary fiber. The fiber attaches to the toxins in the food and offers protection to the mucous membrane of the colon against harmful chemicals. You can take one or two tablespoons of tamarind in the evening or drink a glass of tamarind juice at night before you go to sleep. To make the juice, soak the tamarind pulp in water for an hour and then puree the pulp using a fork. Mix it with water and drink.
- Tamarind helps in the lowering of the blood cholesterol and blood sugar levels in the body, according to animal studies. The dietary fibers present in the pulp get attached to bile salts (produced from cholesterol) and diminish their re-absorption in the colon. This helps in the elimination of the "bad" cholesterol from the body. However, human clinical trials are needed before it can be recommended for the treatment of hypercholesterolemia (high cholesterol) or diabetes.
- Tamarind fruit pulp is a rich source of potassium. Potassium aids in the regulation of heart rate and blood pressure by controlling the effects of sodium in the body. This helps promote a healthy heart.
- Tamarind can lead to the healing of inflammations. Various combinations of the pulp, leaves and flowers, when applied on painful and swollen joints, can ease discomfort to a large extent.
- Tamarind aids in the digestion of food. However, people who have digestive problems associated with acid reflux should avoid it. For those who suffer from loss of appetite, tamarind fruit drink works as a great appetite stimulant. To create a tamarind fruit drink, mix the pulp with a little water and combine it with black pepper, cloves and cardomom.
- Tamarind fruit, being an extremely rich source of vitamin C, helps strengthen the and protect the body against cold. It also serves as a good cure to reduce fevers. Dilute the tamarind fruit pulp in water and add half a teaspoon of pepper and salt to taste. Drink it hot to get the benefits.
- Tamarind pulp decoction, in the diluted form, can be used to help get rid of stomach worms and other intestinal parasites in young children.
- Including tamarind in your diet may delay the progression of fluorosis (bone and dental disease caused by excessive consumption of ) by enhancing excretion of fluoride, according to a human study. However, due to small sample size of the study, additional research is needed to confirm these results.
- Since tamarind contains Vitamin C, it is used to prevent scurvy (characterized by bleeding gums, loosened teeth and ) caused by a lack of vitamin C.
- Gargling tamarind fruit boiled in water provides relief from a sore throat.