Though it looks more like a nut, a tamarind is actually a fruit that grows in a pod with an edible pulp. Tamarind has been a popular food around the world for a very long time, but has recently been noted for its oil that can help in several different ways. The fruit itself is quite juicy, and the taste has been described as being similar to anything from a lemon to an apricot, depending on how ripe the tamarind is.
Here in the United States, you might not be eating that many plain tamarinds, but have probably had them without knowing. That’s because tamarind is a significant ingredient of Worcestershire Sauce, which is typically used with steaks and other meats. So why should you be eating more plain tamarinds instead of just as an ingredient? Let’s take a look at the nutritional value and proven health benefits that you get from eating tamarinds in your diet.
Nutrition of Tamarind
If you’re really watching your calorie count, you might not want an entire one cup serving of tamarinds as they contain nearly 300 calories. However, that serving will provide you with nearly 10 percent of your daily recommendation for protein and a quarter of your daily fiber needs. Out of the vitamins, thiamin is the biggest one. An often overlooked vitamin, you’re getting more than a third of your daily recommendation from each serving of tamarinds.
Riboflavin and niacin are also abundant at more than 10 percent of your daily value, while tamarinds are a significant source of vitamin C, vitamin K and vitamin B6. In the mineral department, you’re getting 20 to 30 percent of your needed iron, magnesium and potassium, with about 10 percent of the recommended amount of both calcium and phosphorus. Throw in a bit of copper and selenium and almost no fat (and zero cholesterol), and tamarinds have a wide range of nutrition.
According to research, nearly 20 percent of Americans suffer from constant constipation, which can lead to several different health problems over time. The best way to combat constipation (among other digestive problems) is by adding more fiber to your diet. With a quarter of your daily fiber in each serving, you’re building a good base to reaching the daily fiber recommendation that less than 10 percent of Americans reach on a daily basis.
Tamarinds have been noted for their ability to work as a laxative, while also making you more regular in the long term. The fiber from tamarinds add more probiotics to your system that get rid of the harmful bacteria that causes many different digestive problems. There’s also a large drop in your chances of colon cancer if you’re getting enough fiber in your diet, which is the third most common cancer in the world.
Weight Loss Tool
The standard serving size of tamarinds seem to contain a lot of calories, but you’ll be able to fit fewer than 300 calories into a full diet, even if you’re restricting yourself to 1,200 calories or so per day. Tamarinds not only fit into a calorie controlled diet, but can also help you lose weight in other ways. Going back to the high fiber content, getting enough fiber in your diet makes you feel more full throughout the day so that you don’t crave other unhealthier foods.
Getting more fiber also boosts your metabolism, burning more calories even while at rest. One last thing about weight loss is pretty unique to tamarinds, and that’s hydroxycitric acid. Not many foods have this compound, and it prevents your body from storing fat. On top of everything, tamarinds have the ability to make your thyroid work more efficiently thanks to the high amount of riboflavin.
Tamarinds improve the life of your blood in a variety of different ways. Starting with the high amount of iron in tamarinds, you’ll be getting more red blood cells that carry oxygen to different parts of your body. That alone can help you feel more energized throughout the day, as many suffer from a lack of iron known as anemia.
Tamarinds also contain a good amount of antioxidants that include the fiber we had mentioned, as well as vitamin C. These nutrients help to purify the blood, reducing your chances of having a stroke later in life. It’s even been found that tamarinds don’t let your body convert carbohydrates into sugars, making this a very diabetic friendly food or a great tool for those that want to prevent diabetes and manage their blood sugar.
Good For the Heart
Taking care of your blood is a big part of your cardiovascular health, but there are other aspects that will further help. Studies have shown that eating tamarinds can balance your blood pressure while also lowering the LDL (bad) cholesterol in your blood. The biggest component of tamarind’s ability to lower your blood pressure is by introducing more potassium that alleviates the stress on your heart.
Tamarinds are also very high in antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that have a further benefit for the heart. When you’re heart isn’t under as much stress, you can avoid heart attacks and heart disease in the long run. Since tamarind thins your blood, you want to make sure that it doesn’t clash with any medication you might be taking, but we’ll discuss that further in just a moment.
Taking care of your skin is extremely important, and doesn’t just apply to your appearance. Yes, getting more vitamin C from foods such as tamarinds gives your skin more elasticity and fewer wrinkles as you age, but you can also protect your skin altogether. Tamarinds also help you avoid damage from UV rays, and can even be used as an antiseptic if you get a cut or similar wound. Tamarinds have been used as a great home remedy for skin health for many generations, helping remove dark spots, burns, excess grease and much more for a healthy and attractive complexion.
Summing it Up
With all of these benefits, what are some of the side effects that you need to know about tamarind? Since tamarind has the ability to lower your blood sugar, this might not be a desired effect for everyone. Those that already have low blood sugar will need to make sure they’re not eating too much tamarind, and it can also affect certain medications. Doctors also suggest that you don’t take tamarind within two weeks of a scheduled surgery as it could lead to complications.
The last thing you really need to look out for is the calorie count. It can be easy to lose track of how much you’re eating, which could result in an excess amount of calories and weight gain. With that said, most people will be able to enjoy tamarinds in a moderate amount and get the great nutrition found within. Since it can help you both inside and out, tamarind makes for a fantastic addition in your diet that you can start eating today!