Tamarindus Indica or Tamarind is native to Africa but also grown in other tropical regions. It can be taken raw or used for cooking. The fruits have a sweet-sour taste. Apart from the fruit, the seeds and leaves are also edible. It contains vitamins such as vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, C and K. It also contains minerals such as magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, iron, copper, selenium. It also contains fiber, protein and fat. However, Tamarind contains a high sugar content although, not the kind linked to metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes. Health benefits provided by taking Tamarind include:
1. Reduce cholesterol levels:
Tamarind contains polyphenols like flavonoids which can help regulate cholesterol levels by lowering total cholesterol, bad cholesterol and triglycerides. The antioxidants can also help reduce oxidative damage caused by bad cholesterol.
2. Fights different microbes:
Tamarind contains natural compounds that have antimicrobial properties as it shows antifungal, antiviral, and antibacterial effects. The compound lupeol is credited with its antibacterial effects and thus, can help prevent various diseases.
3. Reduces weight:
As already noted, tamarind helps reduce cholesterol levels. Its extract also showed to reduce the activity of Fatty Acid Synthase (FAS) which is an enzyme that promoted the formation of adipose tissue in the body. It therefore follows that by taking tamarind, in can aid in weight loss.
4. Improves heart health:
Early studies showed that tamarind possesses anti atherosclerotic effect which lowers the risk of clogging of the arteries. In addition, the dried pulp was found to have anti hypertensive effects and also to reduce diastolic blood pressure.
5. Protects against liver injury:
A compound, procyanidins in tamarind extracts was seen to fight against free radical damage of the liver. Selenium and vitamin E also protects the lipid content in liver cells from free radical attack.
6. Helps manage diabetes:
One of the major causes of diabetes is the inflammation of the pancreatic cells especially those that produce insulin. However, tamarind can help stop the production of pro-inflammatory chemicals like TNF alpha thereby, protecting the pancreas from inflammation induced damage. In addition, the seeds can boost the production of new pancreatic cells. This can help restore the ability to produce the required amounts of insulin in patients with diabetes.
7. Aids digestive health:
Traditionally, tamarind has been used as a laxative due to the high amounts of malic and tartaric acids. It also contains potassium bitartrate and fiber which helps in relieving constipation and other digestive related issues.