Deliciously tangy and one of the most highly prized natural foods in South Asia, the tamarind – the melodic name of which comes from the Persian “tamar-I-hind,” meaning “date of India” – is gaining recognition and appreciation throughout the world.
Some Health Benefits of Tamarind are:
As most ancient foods do, tamarind has a long history of medicinal uses. Many involve easing stomach discomfort, aiding digestion, and use as a laxative. Tamarind preparations are used for fevers, sore throat, rheumatism, inflammation, and sunstroke. Dried or boiled tamarind leaves and flowers are made into poultices for swollen joints, sprains, boils, hemorrhoids, and conjunctivitis.
Similar to the natural gums and pectins found in other foods, the sticky pulp referred to earlier contains non-starch polysaccharides, which contribute to its dietary fiber content. They bind with bile to help flush waste through the colon, decreasing the chances of it sticking around.
Each 100 grams of tamarind contain 36% of the thiamin, 35% of the iron, 23% of magnesium and 16% of the phosphorus recommended for a day’s worth of nutrition. Other prominent nutrients include niacin, calcium, vitamin C, copper, and pyridoxine.
Tamarinds also contain high levels of tartaric acid, just as citrus fruits contain citric acid, providing not just a zing to the taste buds, but evidence of powerful antioxidant action zapping harmful free radicals floating through your system.
Other phytochemicals found in tamarinds include limonene, geraniol (a natural antioxidant with a rose-like scent), safrole (a natural oil also found in sassafras), cinnamic acid, methyl salicylate (a plant essence with counter-irritant properties), pyrazine, and alkylthiazoles (natural flavors and fragrances derived from plants and vegetables). Each brings its own flavor and/or healing property to the fruit’s overall make-up.