Tamarind is incredibly adaptable, has a sweet-tangy flavor, and is packed with antioxidants.
Tamarind fruit is a vital component of many well-liked and historically significant savory and sweet recipes all across the world. But depending on where you live, you might not be as familiar with it as you are with other fruits because it comes from a tree that can only flourish in tropical and subtropical regions.
To help you start including this adaptable fruit in your diet, registered dietitian Devon Peart, RD, MHSc, explains what tamarind is and what health advantages it might offer.
What is tamarind?
The tamarind tree (Tamarindus indica) produces the legume-like tamarind fruit. A firm shell that resembles an extended peanut shell or a dark edamame (soybean) pod is present on the outside. However, there is a meaty pulp with a feel akin to dates inside.
Peart claims that tamarind has a sweet and sour flavor. The more ripe it is, the sweeter or sourer it is. Fruits taste sweeter the more ripe they are.
Although tamarind trees were originally only found in tropical regions of Africa, they are now also found in South Asia, Mexico, and some regions of Central America.
What variations does tamarind have?
Depending on how you intend to utilize it, tamarind is available in a variety of forms. When Peart says, “If you want to eat it raw, just break open the pod and eat the pulp from around the seed,” she means that you can do so. (The pods themselves cannot be eaten, but they can be composted.)
By boiling and straining the pulp, you may also create your tamarind paste, which you can use as a dip or add to other foods. The only ingredient added to tamarind to create a paste in its purest form is water, according to Peart, “so it’s as nutrient-rich as the raw plant.”
Do you find this to be too much work? You may also purchase tamarind in a variety of forms to use as a food ingredient, including:
- Compressed block, often known as a thick slab of tightly packed pulp without the seeds or pods.
Just make sure to avoid any varieties that have extra sugar. Check the ingredient list before purchasing ready-made paste or concentrate because additional components might have been added, advises Peart.
Benefits of tamarind for health
You are aware of the health benefits of the fruit. But why is tamarind so fantastic in particular?
Tamarind is high in calcium, magnesium, fiber, and antioxidants, according to Peart. Here are some of the potential and confirmed health advantages of tamarind, along with what that implies for you.
Packed with antioxidants
Natural compounds called antioxidants can be found in some foods. They support your body’s defenses against cellular harm from free radicals, unstable chemicals that produce oxidative stress and may result in aging and illness symptoms like:
- Autoimmune diseases.
- Cardiovascular and inflammatory disease.
- Neurodegenerative diseases, like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
Antioxidants, however, work along with free radicals to stop them from running amok inside your body. This indicates that they have significant overall health benefits, and tamarind is full of them. It has particularly high levels of beta-carotene, an antioxidant that promotes the health of the eyes.
A reliable supply of magnesium
More than 25% of your recommended daily intake of magnesium can be found in one dish of tamarind.
This significant nutrient supports more than 300 vital bodily functions, including controlling nerve and muscle function, keeping blood pressure under control, and preserving strong bones.
Helps with reducing inflammation
Risks of damage, ailment, and chronic diseases are all connected to inflammation in the body. However, decreasing inflammation also lowers your risks, and diet can have a big impact on this.
Potassium and polyphenols, such as flavonoids, which lower inflammation, are abundant in tamarind pulp, according to Peart. Natural plant compounds called flavonoids have antioxidant qualities. Antioxidants are one of the main tools in the fight against inflammation.
This does not imply that tamarind will be the only superhero you require to fight inflammation. However, it undoubtedly can be beneficial.
Maybe useful in the treatment of obesity
Particularly tamarind seeds may aid in the control and treatment of obesity.
Even though trypsin inhibitor, a molecule involved in hunger and satiety hormones that can essentially result in a sensation of fullness, is present in tamarind, which is a potent anti-inflammatory, Peart says that obesity “triggers metabolic and hormonal changes related to low-grade, chronic inflammation. “tamarind, which is a potent anti-inflammatory, Peart says that obesity “triggers metabolic and hormonal changes related to low-grade, chronic inflammation.”
More research is required to understand the precise function that trypsin inhibitors play in the management of obesity, but preliminary data are encouraging.
Possibly advantageous for diabetics
Using the glycemic index, carbohydrate-containing foods are categorized according to how likely they are to cause blood sugar to rise.
Food sources that are coming up short on the glycemic file are less inclined to cause your glucose to rise rapidly, settling on them as a decent decision for your eating regimen. This is particularly significant if you have diabetes — and tamarind might be one of those food sources. At present, there’s restricted proof of this conceivable advantage, yet research is progressing.
“Tamarind is somewhat high in sugar, at 34 grams for every half cup,” Peart notes, “but on the other hand it’s falling short on the glycemic file, meaning it doesn’t cause spikes in glucose. Its expected job in diabetes the board is as yet being figured out.”
Tamarind is it healthy?
Tamarind can be a beneficial addition to your diet, as shown by its nutritional profile. Consequently, consider this your green light to start cooking or to start munching.
“Tamarind is nutrient-rich, so, on balance, it’s a healthy food when you enjoy it in moderation,” Peart claims. Just limit yourself to a half-cup serving at a time.
The information provided at this site is only meant for educational purposes and is not meant to replace medical care from a qualified health care provider. The reader should speak with their doctor to assess whether the information is suitable for their condition due to individual needs that are specific to them.