What Tamarinds are really good for!



This article by Ashlee Cox appeared in Barbados’ Advocate.

Is it really summer without a tamarind ball?

I think not and to further convince you, the Health page will be looking at the health benefits of the tamarind fruit!

Did you know that the fruit was in fact a bean, and while believed to be native to Africa, can be found growing throughout tropical and subtropical regions of Africa, South Asia, South America and Caribbean islands for their fruits?

Tamarind, is not only a delicious and tangy fruit, but it also has a long history of medicinal uses, including, easing stomach discomfort, aiding digestion, and working as a laxative. Tamarind preparations are used to fight fevers, sore throat, rheumatism, inflammation, and sunstroke. Dried or boiled tamarind leaves and flowers are made into poultices for swollen joints, sprains, boils, haemorrhoids, and conjunctivitis.

The fruit is also a great source of dietary fibre, volatile chemical compounds, nutrients and vitamins including, thiamin, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, as well as niacin, calcium, copper, and pyridoxine.

This prized spice is also a good source of minerals like copper, potassium, selenium, and zinc. Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids that helps control heart rate and blood pressure. Iron is essential for red blood cell production and other important processes in the body.

In addition, it is also rich in many vital vitamins, including, vitamin-A, folic acid, riboflavin, niacin, and vitamin C. Much of these vitamins plays antioxidant as well as co-factor functions for enzyme metabolism inside the body.

Tamarinds also contain high levels of tartaric acid, just as citrus fruits such as lemons, for instance,contain citric acid, providing not just a zing to the taste buds, but also powerful antioxidant action, zapping harmful free radicals floating through your system!

The sticky pulp of the fruit, is a rich source of non-starch polysaccharides (NSP), also known as dietary fibre, such as ‘hemicelluloses, gums, mucilage, pectin and tannins’. This dietary fibre in food increases its bulk and augments bowel movements, thereby helps in the fight against constipation! The fibre also binds to toxins in the food and helps to protect the colon mucus membrane from cancer-causing chemicals. This fruit can also help with the expulsion of ‘bad’ / LDL cholesterol levels from the body.

The volatile phytochemicals, which are inherent in the fruit, account for the medicinal properties of the tamarind. Did you know that this spice condiment is also used as emulsifying agent in syrups, decoctions, etc., in different pharmaceutical products.

The tamarind, promotes a healthy heart, and is a good source of the antioxidants that fight against cancer. It helps to reduce fevers and provided great protection against colds, and can be applied to the skin to heal inflammation! It can be used as a gargle for sore throats and as a drink to bring relief from sunstroke as well.

In short, this amazing fruit, can be used as a fruit, as a spice or condiment and has many healthy and medicinal uses! However, because it is acidity, you should monitor how much you eat, after all too much of a good thing is a bad thing! Enjoy the tamarinds!

For the original report go to http://www.barbadosadvocate.com/newsitem.asp?more=lifestyle&NewsID=37762

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