One fruit that seems a bit strange to Westerners is the tamarind. The fruit is actually a legume and grows in pods which one has to crack open to access the tasty pulp and seeds within. Despite its strange appearance, the fruit has a number of health benefits and is one you really should be incorporating into your diet. Just in case you aren’t totally sure how you should eat it, below are some of the health benefits of this fruit, its nutritional value, and how you can use it in your own diet.
Health Benefits of Tamarind
Let’s take a look at all the ways in which this tasty dish can influence your health if you eat it regularly.
Tamarind has long been a natural laxative for those suffering from constipation. Evidently, this means it speeds up digestion and can even be a treatment for diarrhea. These digestive benefits are so powerful that they apply to the fruit as well as spices made from it.
Regulates Blood Sugar
This fruit also contains an enzyme which influences how the blood stream absorbs carbohydrates. It regulates your blood sugar and prevents sudden spikes or drops. This makes it a great resource for people who need help managing diabetes.
Improves Nerve Function
The B-vitamins contained in this fruit are responsible for supporting nerve function. They also keep your reflexes sharp and your body active.
This fruit is also a rich source of iron, which your blood cells need to transport oxygen throughout the body. A diet with plenty of iron can also help prevent you from developing anemia.
Supports Heart Health
Regular consumption of this fruit can also lower blood pressure and “bad” LDL cholesterol. Apart from that, it can also prevent heart disease. This is largely due to the powerful combination of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants. They protect the heart from damage and prevent plaque from building up in the arteries.
Promotes Weight Loss
The same enzyme that helps regulate your blood sugar also affects fat storage in the body. Essentially, it puts a halt to the process. Some research also suggests that it can work as an appetite suppressant.
Boosts Immune System
The antioxidants and many vitamins in this fruit also strengthen your immune system. Moreover, you can even use tamarind as an antimicrobial and antifungal to fight parasites and fungal infections.
Tamarind Nutritional Value
• Iron: As mentioned earlier, the fruit is a rich source of iron. Specifically, one 100g serving provides up to 35% of your recommended daily intake of iron. Iron not only facilitates blood circulation and can prevent anemia, it also is an essential ingredient in the production of red blood cells.
• Fiber: A serving also contains 5 grams of dietary fiber. This makes it a great resource to meet your recommended daily intake (typically about 25 grams for women, 30 for men). Fiber is the ingredient that supports a healthy digestive system and scrapes excess buildups from your veins and arteries.
• Antioxidants: Specifically, this fruit contains the antioxidant tartaric acid, which gives it the tart flavor. Antioxidants also bind to and eliminate harmful free radicals. They can cause heart disease and cancer.
• Vitamins: This fruit also contains a number of vitamins. First, it’s a good source of the B-vitamins Niacin and Thiamin (12% and 36% of recommended daily intake respectively). They support the nervous system and boost your energy levels. It also contains vitamin C, which helps build a strong and healthy immune system.
• Minerals: This fruit’s richest resource, however, is the large number of minerals it contains. Not only is it a non-animal source of calcium (7%), it also contains significant levels of magnesium (23%), potassium (13%), and phosphorus (16%). These three minerals support heart health, prevent muscle cramps, and double as electrolytes.
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One can usually consume this fruit either dried or fresh, though when fresh it is better to wait until the fruit matures. The pulp in an unripe tamarind is extremely sour. It’s good to know that it becomes sweeter as it ripens. Other common uses include:
• Juice: Many cultures around the world enjoy turning it into juice. Some simply boil and strain the pulp and add sugar, while others prefer fruit blends.
• Jam: The pulp of this fruit pairs well with sugar, rendering it easy to make delicious jams and sweet pastes.
• As a Spice: This fruit has a strong flavor to the point that a little bit can go a long way. In India, for example, locals use it to flavor curries. Other cooks recommend using it in a marinade.
• As a Base: The pulp can also be used as a base to flavor soups, stews, and chutney. You can use the pulp from the raw fruit or you can purchase tamarind paste.
• As a Medicine: As mentioned before, this fruit isn’t just for cooking. You can also use it as a powerful laxative as well as a treatment for diarrhea. It also functions as a natural blood thinner. Therefore, you shouldn’t consume this fruit in conjunction with aspirin or prescription blood thinners.
In short, this is one fruit that you should really consider incorporating into your diet. Not only does it contain a wealth of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants, it also provides a number of health benefits such as preventing heart disease and strengthening your immune system. If you have any questions about tamarind or have any suggestions on how to incorporate it into a healthy diet, please sound off in the comments below!