Tamarind, also known as ‘Imli’ in Hindi is a key ingredient used in Indian cooking. Known for its tangy taste, it also offers several health benefits.
Tamarind fruit is obtained from the tamarind tree and the fruit envelopes seed pods. The fruit does not open at maturity and remains closed. The fruit is extracted from the fresh pods. Inside the pods are few large seeds and a tart pulp. Tamarind can be consumed either fresh or dried.
Tamarind contains plentiful essential nutrients and it is also a rich source of antioxidants. One cup or 120 gm of raw tamarind pulp contains 287 calories, 0.7 gm fat, 6.1 gm fibre, 3.4 gm protein, 46.6 gm sugars, 75 gm carbohydrates, 754 mg potassium, 89 mg calcium, 110 mg magnesium, 136 mg phosphorus, 34 mg sodium, 3.4 mg iron, 4.2 mg vitamin C, 2.3 mg niacin, etc.
Possible Health Benefits of Tamarind…
Helps in digestive complaints
1. Tamarind maintains efficient and quick digestion due to its ability to stimulate bile while helps dissolve the food rapidly.
2. The high content of tartaric acid, malic acid, potassium, and dietary fibre in tamarind promotes defecation thus, relieving constipation.
3. Tamarind is considered as a natural laxative. Fibre adds bulk to the stools thus, aids in easy bowel movements.
4. The natural binding agents such as gums and pectin present in tamarind helps in treating diarrhoea.
5. The tamarind root extracts and bark produce a beneficial action in treating stomach ache.
Induces weight loss
1. The hydroxy Citric Acid content of tamarind restricts an enzyme in the body from storing fat.
2. The hydroxy Citric Acid further, decreases appetite by increasing levels of serotonin neurotransmitter thus, leading to weight loss.
3. The high amount of fibre in tamarind aids in keeping one full for longer thus, preventing the consumption of high calorie or junk foods.
4. Tamarind has a role in inducing weight loss as it regulates lipid metabolism, eases detoxification, and rectifies the use of toxic and healthy fat.
Promotes heart health
1. The potassium, fibre, and antioxidant content of tamarind help in promoting heart health.
2. Tamarind possesses an anti-atherosclerotic property which prevents the building up of fat plaques in the arteries thus, leading to a reduced risk of atherosclerosis.
3. The anti-inflammatory property of tamarind restricts the inflammations in the heart wall and arteries thus, decreasing the intensity of atherosclerosis and numerous cardiovascular conditions.
4. The zero-fat content of tamarind prevents the fear of developing any heart diseases.
5. The high content of flavonoids and polyphenols in tamarind controls the cholesterol and triglycerides levels in the blood.
Maintains blood pressure
1. The anti-hypertensive properties of tamarind have a vast potential in decreasing the diastolic blood pressure.
2. The potassium content of tamarind aids in reducing blood pressure. Potassium, being a good vasodilator aids in the relaxation of the blood vessels thus, maintaining blood pressure.
Other possible benefits…
Apart from the above-mentioned health benefits, tamarind further produces few more benefits such as, protects the liver, treats acne, maintains proper functioning of nerves and development of muscles, reduces inflammation, helps exfoliate and lighten the skin.
Tamarind also helps control blood sugar levels, manages hyperglycaemia, prevents malaria and microbial diseases, useful during pregnancy, prevents ageing, improves blood circulation, boosts immunity, improves eye health, and purifies the blood.
How to use Tamarind?
Tamarind is used in several different ways in cooking. It can be consumed in the following ways:
- Eat it raw.
- As a paste.
- In pad thai.
- As a chutney.
- As tamarind balls.
- For marinating meats.
- Added in sweet dishes.
- In cakes and chocolates.
- As tamarind ice cream, etc.
- As tamarind juice or syrup.
- Used in various Indian curries and spicy dishes.
How to make Tamarind paste?
Take dried tamarind pods and open these pods, to remove the fruit.
Put the fruit in a pan with 3 to 4 tablespoons of water. Simmer for approximately 10 – 15 minutes to soften the fruit.
Turn off the heat and remove the pan.
Gently mash the fruit with the back of a spoon or a potato masher.
Strain the mash and you shall get a brown liquid. To extract the maximum pulp possible, press the fruit through the strainer while straining the seeds.
Tamarind paste is ready to use.