Fruits are really essential for health. Their benefits range from detoxification, anti-aging, boosting immunity and much more. They can be dry or succulent, dehiscent or indehiscent. They come in many varieties. Funny enough, we tend to ignore the efficacy of fruits and rather embrace juices which are composed of refined sugar, additives and preservatives that are, of course detrimental to our health. Though the implications may not come immediately but as one ages, the consequences arise.
Tamarind is a fruit, an indehiscent type of fruit found mostly in Africa and Asia. It is a tropical fruit. In Nigeria, it has different names according to the three major ethnic groups. Thus, Igbos call it “ichekwu”. Yorubas call it “awin”. Hausas call it “tsamiya”. It is not only cultivated because of its fruit but also because of its timber used in building and construction and also as fuel.
The fruit has a sweet and sour taste. The sour taste is as a result of tartaric acid in the fruit. The fruit is a pod that can be dark brown to light brown with one to six seeds.
The leaves are edible,just like the seed,they have sour taste but are eaten or used because of the health benefits. The leaves contain essential oils, selenium, fatty acid (free and conjugated), flavenoids and other compounds that are beneficial to health. They are more beneficial for their antimicrobial and antioxidant properties. Hence, used particularly in liver disease.
The seed contains tartaric acid, phytochemical that occur naturally in most fruits. It also contain sugar, vitamine B, pottasium which is a vasolidator, vitamin C i.e ascorbic acid, alpa hydroxy acid AHA, hydroxycitric acid HCA, riboflavin, niacin,malic acid,iron and other compounds such as calcium which is rarely found in fruits.
Health benefits of tamarind.
- Boost immunity- This is due to its tartaric acid and vitamin C content. Tartaric acid and vitamin C boost one’s immunity against variety of ailments such as scurvy. So you have less or nothing to worry about when you are on tamarind diet.
- Tamarind reduces risk of cardiovascular problems. This is pioneered by its potassium content which is a vasolidator. The pressure of the blood is vasolidated by reducing stress conferred on blood vessels. Tamarind flushes out bad cholesterol (low density lipoproteins) which cause plaque that build up in the walls of the arteries. Hence, the flow of blood is normalized.
- Glucose intolerance and management of diabetes- To those who are prone or sensitive to glucose, here is good news for you, tamarind does the trick. You know why? Because it contains tartaric acid which improves glucose intolerance and therefore can be used in managing diabetes. Diabetic patients should adhere to eating this fruit as it can inhibit to some extent, alpha amylase, the enzyme that hydrolyze carbohydrates.
- Digestion- you are flatulence free if u are dieting on tamarind because it increases the rate of flow and absorption of nutrients in the intestinal walls. It really improves digestion.
- Weight loss and anti-obesity: You want to loose those pounds? Tamarind does the magic. It contains hydroxycitric acid which inhibits the enzyme responsible for storage fat in the body. It does not only stop you from adding more flesh but also suppresses appetite. Obese individuals are hereby adviced to eat tamarind and avoid cabornated juices or junks.
- The vitamin B contained in tamarind is essential for development of nerves and muscles as well.
- Tamarind, because of its antioxidant and antimicrobial properties can be used to kill cancerous cells, treat infections such as flu.
- Amazingly, tamarind serves as an exfoliating agent as it unclogs pores, reduces or clears spots and blemishes thereby leaving you with a glowing skin. This is made possible by its content, alpha hydroxy acid AHA. Precisely, the reason it is widely used in cosmetics. Because of AHA, when used on the skin delays aging of the skin and also protect the skin from harmful UV rays and free radicals that could damage the skin.
- Tamarind is rich in iron, hence very important in the production of red blood cells and haemoglobin. Thus, when one takes tamarind,there will be enough blood in circulation and anaemia will not occur.
Tamarind or ichekwu or awin or tsamiya, whichever name you choose to call is a fruit with versatile benefits.It serves as food ingredient used in cuisine and other dishes. In the northern part of Nigeria it is used to make the popular drink known as “kunu”. This is one fruit that almost everyone loves including children. Make sure to have a “tamarind feast” when next it is in season but do not forget that moderation is the watchword.