Sweet and tangy tamarind is one of the widely used condiment spice found in every South Asian kitchens!
The tree is very large with long heavy drooping branches and dense foliage. Fully grown up may tree reach up to 80 feet in height. During each season, the tree bears irregularly curved pods in abundance all along its branches. Each pod has thick outer shell encasing deep brown color sticky pulp enveloping 2-10 hard dark brown colored seeds.
Botanically, the tree is among the large tropical trees belonging to the family of fabaceae; of the genus:Tamarindus. Scientific name: Tamarindus indica.
Tamarinds are evergreen tropical trees native to Africa. They grow throughout tropical and subtropical regions of Africa, South Asia, South America and Caribbean islands.
Health benefits of Tamarind
- Tamarind contains many health benefiting essential volatile chemical compounds, minerals, vitamins and dietary fiber.
- Its sticky pulp is rich source of non-starch polysaccharides (NSP) or dietary fiber such as gums, hemicelluloses, mucilage, pectin and tannins. 100 g of fruit pulp provides 5.1 or over 13% of dietary fiber. NSP or dietary fiber in the food 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 (produced from cholesterol) and decrease their re-absorption in the colon; thereby help excretion of “bad” or LDL cholesterol levels from the body.
- While lemon contains citric acid, tamarind is rich in tartaric acid. Tartaric acid gives a sour taste to food but is also a very powerful antioxidant. (Anti-oxidant E-number is E334). It helps body protect from harmful free radicals.
- Tamarind fruit contains many volatile phytochemicals such as limonene, geraniol, safrole, cinnamic acid, methyl salicylate, pyrazine and alkylthiazoles. Together these compounds account for the medicinal properties of tamarind.
- This prized spice is a good source of minerals like copper, potassium, calcium, iron, selenium, zinc and magnesium. Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids that helps control heart rate and blood pressure. Iron is essential for red blood cell production and as a co-factor for cytochrome oxidases enzymes.
- It is also rich in many vital vitamins including thiamin, vitamin A, folic acid, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin-C that are essential for optimum health.
Medicinal uses of Tamarind
- Its pulp has been used in many traditional medicines as laxative, digestive, and as a remedy for biliousness and bile disorders.
- This spice condiment is also used as emulsifying agent in syrups, decoctions, etc in different pharmaceutical products.