Last Updated on November 27, 2020
What is a tamarind?
A tamarind is both a fruit and a legume, characterized by its pod-like appearance and its sweet and mostly sour taste. Though it originated in Africa, it is mostly found in tropical regions like the Caribbean.
Because of its taste, it can be combined and mixed into sweet dishes. It is also used to add richness to savory recipes. It’s even in sauces, drinks, jams, and commercial candy products.
It is a well-known fact that the tamarind has plenty of medicinal properties promoting heart health, weight loss, digestive health, and immune system functions — among many other benefits.
This is attributed to the wide variety of nutrients, minerals, and vitamins it contains, making it a component of a well-balanced diet. It has even been used as an organic cure against constipation, ulcers, and fever.
A valuable component for your dishes or wellness, tamarind is versatile in its uses. Here are some of the health benefits that tamarind can give us:
1. Gives you a healthier heart
Our circulatory system includes our heart, arteries, veins, and capillaries. Its sole responsibility is to bring oxygen via our blood to all the cells of our body. Our heart is the muscular pump and our blood vessels are its pipes.
Imagine you’re holding an open hose — if you let it flow freely, the water doesn’t go far because it has less pressure, but if you cover part of its opening with your finger, you’d see the water reach a farther distance. The pressure has increased.
The same concept applies to our blood vessels. If there are any blockages in the tubes, blood pressure goes up.
If high cholesterol levels aren’t checked, the blood vessel walls that used to be flexible and expandable, harden up and gather plaques, increasing blood pressure for longer durations. In the medical field, this is called atherosclerosis.
Your body needs its oxygen and other nutrients, and it gets these nutrients through the blood. Your heart would like to make sure that happens, but it gets tired. As more cholesterol and fats gather in your system as a result of diet and energy excess, even the blood vessels that supply oxygen to the heart get affected.
The niacin in tamarind lowers cholesterol and prevents atherosclerosis. There’s also magnesium that occurs in huge amounts in high-fiber food, that aids in regulating triglycerides — stored energy in your blood. Potassium also regulates blood pressure and helps our cardiovascular system by helping in muscle contractions.
Now, let’s go back to the hose — what if the water is mixed with juice or anything that makes it stickier? It means, for it to go a particular distance, the pump would have to be stronger. Diabetes does this.
If your blood sugar is high, your blood is denser and harder to pump into the parts of your body. This also increases blood pressure and the strain your heart goes through.
Tamarind also has tartaric acid, a substance that lowers glucose levels. If you have a normal amount of blood sugar in circulation, your heart won’t have to exert more to keep your cells oxygenated. This is important and you have to remember this — if our cells don’t get any oxygen, they die.
In the case of heart attacks, a blockage leads to the lack of oxygen to the heart’s muscle cells. Because they’re dying, they can’t function and because of this, the heart stops pumping — it becomes a loop that stops circulation.
On the other hand, when a plaque formation prevents blood supply from reaching a part of the brain, killing brain cells and shutting down parts of the brain in the process— an ischemic stroke occurs.
If your blood vessels have regulated and normal cholesterol levels, triglycerides, and blood sugar, your heart and your brain will be safer and healthier. Not to mention, tamarind also has iron that ensures your red blood cells can carry oxygen around your body efficiently.
2. Boosts the immune system
Our defenses against viruses, bacteria, fungi, and parasites are within the realm of our immune system. We have white blood cells and physical structures, such as our skin, to protect us. However, if we’re under stress for shorter or longer periods, our immune system gets nerfed.
Before we know it, we’re sick and down with flu or colds.
Tamarind has plenty of vitamin C which is attributed to preventing colds because it boosts our immune system’s capacity to dispose of the cold virus. It’s also a compound used with products to protect the skin from pollutants and environmental hazards, aside from boosting your iron absorption.
Then potassium comes in. Healthy potassium levels in your blood prevent fatigue. Magnesium is related to relieving symptoms of anxiety, helping with acidic stability in the gut, and giving you an energy push.
Thiamin, another B vitamin, also helps our defenders to ward off diseases by giving stress relief, among others. Combine all these and you have an effective system when dealing with stress.
And if stress is dealt with healthily, your body’s immune system will be in fighting condition.
And that’s not all, tamarind also has an antibacterial effect. Its parts are often used as an ingredient in antibiotics or even antiseptics.
Aside from stress and its linked effects to our resistance to cancer, tamarind also provides us minerals, vitamins, antioxidants like tartaric acid (where it gets its sour taste), and beta-carotene. Antioxidants prevent free radicals in our blood from contributing to abnormal cell growth — the core root of cancer.
3. Promotes anti-aging, growth, and recovery
Aging is a complicated process and relating it to growth and recovery may help us understand it better. Here are some givens:
- Our cells continuously carry out their functions until they die. They have short lifespans.
- When they die, they get replaced.
- When new cells are being created more rapidly than they are dying, growth happens.
- When new cell creation slows down compared to cell death, aging happens.
As we are growing up, the cells that comprise the parts of our body reproduce and multiply way faster than the pre-programmed self-destruction of other cells. The older we get, the slower cells reproduce and regenerate, until we’re losing more cells than we’re gaining.
Therefore, we can say that the more we live a healthier lifestyle and immerse ourselves into a diet that promotes recovery, cell regeneration, and its related processes, we delay aging. Anything stress-related when it comes to how our body reacts to stressors affects our “aging” rate.
True enough, integrating a healthy amount of tamarind in our diets exposes us to the benefits of its stress-relieving and cell-regenerating effects.
So what does tamarind have that aids in healthy cell regeneration and stress relief — considering that stress levels and bodily reactions to it influence the rate of aging that we have?
Well, it has thiamin that aids in athletic improvement, learning (a process related to the growth of new brain cells), memory loss, and Alzheimer’s disease, aside from being linked to stress relief.
4. Improves the digestive system
The thing with our digestive system is that it breaks down the food we take systematically. By using our stomach’s acid, it breaks down materials that further get processed in our small intestine and large intestine.
Where those broken-down materials go would likely be in our blood flow in general or our liver. In short, our digestive system ensures that our liver and other systems utilize what we eat.
Ulcers happen when our stomach’s acidity is too high out of stress and other conditions, like infection, dehydration, or lack of food. Considering the effects of potassium, folates, thiamin, and vitamin C, stress responses and symptoms are addressed and worked on. They all occur in high amounts in tamarind.
Tamarind also helps in weight management. Its many contents, such as riboflavin, aid in effective metabolism, fat burn, and blood sugar regulation. With regulated blood sugar levels, stress relief, and healthy metabolism, binge eating habits and diabetes are dealt with.
Moderation is key
Consuming tamarind products or the fruit itself in high amounts doesn’t quell the many health issues we might experience — instead, it gives us the nutrition that aids our body to effectively function. It has a lot of benefits, and its documented nutritional content and impact is well-studied.
However, it’s healthier to consider avoiding extremes. Binging on tamarind-based products has its side effects and ills. Moderation is key.
To reap the benefits tamarind has to our bodies, we have to understand that binging on it alone won’t help us — it can have its share of consequences — as most excessive behaviors and habits do. Refer to this guide and its nutritional values and perhaps, you can maximize the amount of benefits tamarind has to your body.