Tamarind – Review the Latest Research

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Tamarind is an essential ingredient in many popular and culturally significant dishes, both sweet and savory, worldwide.

It's among the main elements in sinigang, a spicy Filipino stew, and imli saunth chutney, also known as saunth chutney. This sweet chutney is a perfect accompaniment to fritters fried in India and Pakistan. It's also a component in drinks like agua frisa, which is popular throughout Mexico and other regions in Latin America, and sharbat, a chilled cordial commonly served in the months of Ramadan.

However, trees are able to thrive in subtropical and tropical climates. Depending on the region you reside in, you might not be as familiar with it as you might be with other fruits.

Registered Dietitian Devon Peart, RD, MHSc, discusses the meaning of tamarind and the advantages it can bring to your health so that you can begin incorporating this fruit's many benefits in your daily diet.

What is the tamarind?

Tamarind is a legume that resembles a pod from the tree of tamarind (Tamarindus indica). Its hard shell appears like an extended peanut shell or dark brown Edamame (soybean) pod; however, inside lies a fleshy pulp with a texture similar to dates.

“Tamarind is sweet and tangy,” Peart says. “It's more sweet or sour depending on the degree of ripeness. The more ripe the fruit, the sweeter and more delicious the flavor.”

Tamarind trees originate from tropical regions of Africa. They can now be found in warm climates, too, such as South Asia, Mexico, and some parts of Central America.

The health benefits of tamarind

Fruit is healthy. But what is so special about the tamarind specifically?

“Tamarind is a great source of antioxidants and is high in magnesium, calcium, and fiber,” Peart shares.

Tamarind's nutrition profile makes it evident that it's beneficial to add to your food. If you want to eat a snack or begin cooking, this is the best time to try it.

“Tamarind is rich in nutrients, so in general, it's an excellent food to eat with moderation,” Peart adds. “Just keep it to a small portion each time, which amounts to about half a cup.”

Here's a look into what this means for you and a few of the most likely and documented health benefits tamarind can bring to your body.

Filled with antioxidants

Antioxidants are natural chemicals present in certain food items. They aid your body in fighting cell damage caused by free radicals, unstable molecules that can create oxidative stress and result in diseases and other health problems, which include:

  • Autoimmune disorders.
  • The inflammatory and cardiovascular diseases.
  • Cataracts.
  • Cancer.
  • Neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer's.

However, antioxidants work with free radicals and stop them from causing harm to your body. They have substantial general health benefits, and tamarind is loaded with antioxidants. It's particularly rich in a powerful antioxidant known as beta-carotene, which is good for eye health.

Magnesium is a good source.

One tamarind serving provides over 25% of the daily recommended magnesium intake.

This essential nutrient helps support over 300 important processes in your body, including the regulation of muscle and nerve function, ensuring blood pressure control, and maintaining strong bones.

Helps reduce inflammation

Inflammation of the body can be linked to various dangers, such as injury or illness, as well as chronic illnesses. However, reducing inflammation can reduce the risk of developing it. Likewise, your diet can be a big help to aid in this.

“Tamarind pulp is high in polyphenols and potassium such as flavonoids, which help reduce inflammation,” Peart says. Flavonoids are plants that contain antioxidants and are among the main combatants against inflammation.

This doesn't mean that tamarind is the only superpower required to battle inflammation. However, it will undoubtedly help.

It could play an essential role in the treatment of obesity

Tamarind seeds may help to treat and manage weight gain.

“Obesity causes hormonal and metabolic changes that can be linked to low-grade long-term inflammation,” Peart explains. “Tamarind is an effective anti-inflammatory drug that has trypsin inhibitor, which is a chemical that is involved in satiety and hunger hormones, which can result in a feeling of being full.”

More research is needed to establish exactly the potential role in treating obesity; however, some evidence seems positive so far.

It could be helpful for those who suffer from diabetes.

If you suffer from diabetes, you're likely familiar with the Glycemic Index. It categorizes foods that have carbohydrates according to their potential to increase blood sugar levels.

Foods with low scores on the Glycemic Index will not cause your blood sugar levels to increase quickly, which makes them an excellent diet option. This is especially true for those with diabetes. Tamarind is one of the foods that can help. There is currently only a little evidence for this benefit; however, researchers continue to research it.

“Tamarind is a bit high in sugar with 34 grams for a half cup,” Peart notes, “but it's also low on Glycemic Index, which means it doesn't cause a spike in blood sugar levels. Its possible role in the management of diabetes is being explored.”

How can you experience tamarind?

Tamarind comes in various forms, and which one is best for you will depend on how you'd like to use it.

“If you'd like to eat tamarind in raw form, it is possible to split the pod and consume the pulp that's the seeds,” Peart explains. Like edamame and tamarind, the pods themselves are not edible (but they can be composted! ).

The paste can be made by boiling the pulp, straining it, and then served as a dip or used in other dishes.

“To create a paste in its original form, all you need to include in the tamarind is the water,” Peart says. “It's just as nutritious as the plant itself.”

If you find that it is too much work, and you'd like to make use of tamarind to enhance your cooking, you can buy it in different types, such as:

  • Paste.
  • Powder.
  • Concentrate.
  • Compressed block (a massive block of packed pulp, with the pods and seeds removed).

Make sure you steer away from any product with sugar added. “If you purchase a prepared concentrated or paste, different ingredients could add to the mix,” Peart warns, “so ensure you check the ingredient list first.”

Live Healthier
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