Tamarind is a very well known herb that has many culinary, medicinal, ornamental uses and as an economic dye. Its botanical name is Tamarindus indica. Tamarind is should be included in daily diet as it has many health benefits that are sure to improve you overall health.
The tamarind fruit is encased within a brown pod. Inside the pod of the tamarind is a soft, brown pulp with hard-coated black seeds. It is this pulp that people eat to get all the nutritional and health benefits of the tamarind. The pulp of the tamarind has a very sour taste while it is young, but as it ripens the pulp gets sweeter. Though the pulp will sweeten with age, the tamarind generally has a sour, acidic taste.
Tamarind leaves are eaten as a vegetable or added occasionally as a tangy ingredient to soups. The fibrous tamarind pulp is a great appetizer alone or when pickled.
In countries such as Jamaica, Mexico, Aruba and India, tamarind is mixed with sugar and sold as sweets or snacks on the streets or in local shops. Snacking on tamarind or eating tamarind jelly or other tamarind- related products can be very beneficial to your health. Tamarind is a rich source of vitamins, fiber, potassium, magnesium and other nutrients necessary or good health.
Health Benefits of Tamarind
- A great natural appetizer!
- Tamarind pulp is a rich source of non-starch polysaccharides (NSP) or dietary fiber. 100 g of fruit pulp provides 5.1 or over 13% of dietary fiber. NSP increases its bulk and augments bowel movements thereby help prevent constipation. The fiber also binds to toxins in the food thereby help protect the colon mucus membrane from cancer causing chemicals. In addition, dietary fibers in the pulp bind to bile salts and decrease their re-absorption in the colon
- Ease out joint pains in arthritis. Half a spoon of roasted seed powder taken twice a day with water is said to increase the lubrication in the joints and thereby reduce pain and inflammation.
- For weakness of teeth, powder of tamarind seeds can be rubbed on gums and teeth.
- While tamarind juice is a great mouth wash, gargling with it can relieve a sore throat.
- It rids of low immunity.
- Tamarind juice is a home remedy for digestion and increased bile production.
- It may show cholesterol lowering properties with dietary fiber.
- The sticky juice treats stomatitis, relieves constipation and protects from colon cancer.
- Potassium in tamarind is seen to help the hypertensive and heart patients.
- Tamarind pulp is claimed to lower blood sugar levels.
- Tamarind protects against vitamin C deficiency
One disadvantage of taking tamarind in regular diet is acidity.
Storage of Tamarind
Fresh tamarind pods are available in late spring and early summer seasons. However, several different forms of processed tamarind such as compressed tamarind blocks, ready-to-use slice, paste, concentrates, balls etc. are made available in the markets.
Choose fresh unbroken pods packed in boxes. If you are purchasing processed form, buy the product from a well reputed authentic brand. Avoid old, desiccated pulp, or off-smelling products.
Once at home store the pods or pulp in the refrigerator where it will stay fresh for several months.
Tamarind tree is yet another tree with its fruit, leaves, seeds and root quite useful in our day to day life. In all, a tamarind tree in the yard is a valuable asset.