Tamarind has many health benefits including diabetes, cancer, fertility, weight loss & much more but it also comes with precautions. Find out in this detailed article.
I love the sweet and sour taste along with some tartness and one of the foods that has it is tamarind. Tamarind is so tasty that you can just take the pulp out in the spoon and eat it as is! Tamarind is one of the most popular ingredients in Asian recipes - but did you know besides its amazing taste, it also offers immense health benefits?
What is Tamarind?
Tamarind is known as Tamarindus indica and is a leguminous tropical tree which produces bean-like pods of fruit that have seeds and the pulp. Once the pod ripens, it yields the tasty sweet and sour fruit which we call tamarind paste. All parts of the tamarind tree - bark, wood, leaves and the beans are useful.
Tamarind in Culinary Uses -
In India, tamarind is used a lot in recipes like chutneys, curries, dals (lentils), sauces, drinks, desserts, candies and vegetable stews. In fact, have you ever eaten the famous Indian snack called 'samosas?' - they are often served with green chutney and tamarind chutney. In India, tamarind is called the 'Indian Date.'
Tamarind is a vital part of our cuisine, but also, it is widely used in Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Thailand, and well, in short, most of South & South East Asia. It is also used in the Middle Eastern, African, Mexican & the Caribbean cuisine. Tamarind is native to Africa and Asia as well as can be found in tropical countries.
Tamarind is also an ingredient in the famous and popular Worcestershire sauce and also in the world popular Thai recipe called Pad Thai. In Mexico, tamarind is added to the agua de tamarindo (tamarind water) as well as in tamarind candies.
Now that you know how much tamarind is loved and how versatile it is, let's talk about its benefits. Tamarind is so high in nutrients that it is used for both the culinary as well as medicinal purposes.
Tamarind Benefits -
1. Removes Excess Fluoride - We all know how fluoride can be so toxic to our health, and tamarind is going to help you flush out that excess fluoride from your body.
2. Helps with Constipation - Tamarind is like a laxative because it is rich in magnesium so if you are suffering from indigestion and constipation, taking some tamarind pulp in the morning (about 1 teaspoon to start with) with some warm water will be a great remedy for you. You can also have it after dinner or just before bed at night and see if that works better for you.
3. Helps with Blood Sugar & Diabetes - Tamarind has a positive effect on blood sugar and is a great addition to a diabetic's diet. This is because of the enzyme alpha amylase which helps in lowering blood sugar levels in the body and reverses the pancreatic tissue damage which helps with better insulin sensitivity. Tamarind can help with balancing blood sugar and this is why it is taken by diabetics - tamarind has antidiabetic effects and a very low glycemic index (23).
Another great property of tamarind is that the tamarind fruit can be a healthy part of anti-candida diet since it is antimicrobial and antifungal and also helps in managing blood sugar levels so all this can help with healing from candida.
4. Helps with Intestinal Worms - If you suspect you have worms, tamarind may be your new best friend. Tamarind is rich in tannins, and it is known that tamarind is highly anti-parasitic, antibacterial, antiviral so it is very effective in flushing out pathogens and boosting immunity, as well as digestive health.
5. Tamarind for Sleep, Aches & Much More! - Tamarind is very rich in magnesium, a mineral critical to over 300 functions in the body. Magnesium also helps with good sleep, and promotes relief from aches and sore muscles, so eating tamarind will help with better sleep and better overall health.
6. Helps Liver Immensely - Tamarind is considered hepatoprotective meaning it protects the liver - the most important elimination organ in the body. It helps the liver generate new cells and may also help with fatty liver disease because it contains antioxidants called procyanidins. Tamarind also helps protect the liver from drug toxicity, helps with lowering high liver enzymes and promotes better liver function. Tamarind is also useful for gallbladder issues like pain, discomfort and inflammation.
7. Tamarind for Heart Health & Cholesterol - Tamarind is rich in flavonoids and so it helps with good HDL and lowers bad cholesterol, LDL. It is also rich in potassium, so that is another helpful point for those with high blood pressure issues. Tamarind may also help in lowering cholesterol levels due to its fiber content along with the flavonoids.
8. Tamarind for Weight Loss - Tamarind can aid in weight-loss as it is rich in hydroxycitric acid which can aid in weight loss since it inhibits the appetite - simply add some tamarind to your daily recipes or to your warm tea and reap the benefits! Tamarind also helps in burning fat thus helping you with weight loss. Tamarind also has a mild diuretic effect on the body thus helping to flush out toxic waste in the form of excess fluids in the body. Tamarind also contains fiber so that will help you feel full - thus aiding in the weight loss journey.
9. Tamarind has Anticancer Benefits - Tamarind is also very rich in polyphenols which have an anti-inflammatory effect on the body so tamarind is also great for cancer prevention. Tamarind may also aid in liver cancer due to liver protective healing abilities as mentioned above. Because tamarind helps regulate sugar balance in the body, tamarind can be a great addition to cancer healing diet - a crucial element of healing cancer is managing balanced blood sugar. Another amazing quality of tamarind is that it helps in shedding excess (toxic) fat and fluids from the body - this can help with detoxification that is a crucial part of cancer healing journey.
In one study, a polysaccharide compound (PST001) was extracted from the seed kernel of Tamarindus indica and was evaluated on different cancer lines. The conclusion was that PST001 can be considered as a powerful anticancer agent since it helps with inhibiting tumors and it has an immunomodulatory effect on the cancer lines - thus it can be either used as a sole agent or in combination with chemotherapy drugs. (Study linked below)
10. Tamarind is Rich in Calcium - Tamarind is also rich in beta carotene along with many other phytochemicals. It also contains B vitamins like folate and thiamine (except vitamin B-12) and tamarind is also a rich source of magnesium and calcium. The fact that tamarind is a rich source of both magnesium and calcium means that it can be a part of a healthy diet to prevent bone loss, osteoporosis and bone fractures.
11. Tamarind for Boosting Sexual Health in Men & Women - Tamarind has magnesium, vitamin C and B vitamins which all help in boosting the semen quality in men and in increasing the lifespan of sperm in men. Due to the same nutrients in tamarind like magnesium, vitamins and minerals (and especially vitamin B-6), tamarind is great at boosting female fertility and overall sexual health including boosting libido in both men and women. Needless to say, tamarind is considered an aphrodisiac.
12. Tamarind for Skin & Hair - Tamarind water (tamarind soaked in warm water for a few minutes) has been traditionally used for hair health. Tamarind leaves or tamarind water can be used on the scalp for boosting hair growth and preventing hair fall. Tamarind is also used on the skin for getting rid of dead cells, blemishes and dryness and for brightening the skin. Mixing some lemon with tamarind pulp or just tamarind water and letting it sit on our face for 20 mins two to three times a week can be used to brighten the skin and give it a soft glow.
With all these benefits, don't wait any longer to use tamarind!
Tamarind Uses for Home -
Tamarind contains tartaric acid which is great in removing tarnish and polishing copper and bronze and getting rid of tarnishing.
Adding Tamarind to Recipes -
I often add tamarind to my recipes - it is great in just about anything; from rice recipes to chutneys to lentils to chickpeas and more, you name it! Try these wonderful recipes with tamarind and see for yourself.
1. Onion Pulao w/Tamarind
2. Garlic Chutney w/Tamarind
3. Thai Red Curry
4. Raw Onion Chutney
5. Mix Veg Pulao w/Garlic Chutney
6. Cabbage Pulao in Iron Wok
7. Ayurvedic Spiced Warm Almond Milk
Who Should NOT Take Tamarind -
1. Tamarind is very safe to enjoy when added to recipes as it becomes highly diluted among all the other recipe ingredients but if you intentionally take it to lower your blood sugar, make sure you consult your doctor especially if you are taking other blood sugar (diabetes) medications as it might cause your blood sugar to drop too low.
2. Tamarind is okay in small amounts - if you take it daily by the spoon or in a tea, a very small amount is needed. Too much tamarind may cause dizziness, low blood sugar, nausea, acid reflux, damage to teeth, fainting, shortness of breath and vomiting.
3. Tamarind may cause allergic reactions in people who are allergic to legumes since tamarind is from a legume family.
4. Tamarind may cause serious laxative effects if taken in large amounts - be careful.
5. Those undergoing surgery or about to go for surgery or post-surgery should not take tamarind due to its ability to lower blood sugar levels as well as blood pressure. Stop using tamarind at least 2 weeks before your scheduled surgery date and even after that, consult your doctor if you should take it or not for sometime.
6. Pregnant or breast-feeding moms - Do NOT take tamarind in high quantities but little bit of tamarind in recipes is considered okay.
7. Consult your doctor if you are on antiplatelet drugs like aspirin before taking tamarind.
End Note - Safest way to take tamarind is by adding it to your food or drink recipes so it is highly diluted and adds flavor plus you can still enjoy all of its health benefits.
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Photo Credit - HERE
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