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Tamarind (Imli): Uses, Benefits, Side Effects and More!

By Dr Rajeev Singh +2 more

Introduction: 

Tamarind, scientifically known as Tamarindus indica L., belongs to the family Leguminosae (Fabaceae). It is cultivated almost throughout India. Tamarind is a multipurpose plant as almost all parts of the tree are used in the chemical, pharmaceutical, food and textile industries. Tamarind is a plant with many medicinal benefits owning to the vast variety Tamarind, scientifically known as Tamarindus indica L.,belongs to the family Leguminosae (Fabaceae). It is cultivated almost throughout India. Tamarind is a multipurpose plant as almost all parts of the tree are used in the chemical, pharmaceutical, food and textile industries. Tamarind is a plant which might have many benefits owning to the vast variety of active compounds present in it. The name ‘tamarind’ comes from the Persian word ‘tamar-i-hind’, meaning ‘date of India’, as it was first thought to be produced by an Indian palm. It is known as ‘amlika’ in Sanskrit, indicating its ancient presence in the country. The tamarind tree is also mentioned in the Indian Brahmasamhita scriptures between 1200 and 200 BC. At present, the tamarind tree is considered to have originated in Madagascar. It is cultivated in Africa, Asia, Australia and America

tamarind benefits

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Nutritional Value of Tamarind: 

Tamarind has good nutritional value. As per the World Health Organization, tamarind fruit is rich in all essential amino acids (except tryptophan). The nutritional value of raw tamarind per 100 grams is as follows:2,3 

Nutritional Component Value 
Energy 239 kcal 
Vitamin B6 0.066 mg 
Vitamin C 3.5 mg 
Vitamin E 0.1 mg 
Vitamin K 2.8  µg 
Thiamin 0.428 mg 
Riboflavin 0.152 mg 
Niacin 1.94 mg 
Vitamin B5 0.143 mg 
Vitamin A 2  µg 
Folate, total 14  µg 
Folate, food 14  µg 
Folate, Dietary Fibre Equivalent (DFE) 14  µg 
Choline, total 8.6 mg 
Carotene, beta 18  µg 
Protein 2.8 g 
Fat 0.6 g 
Carbohydrate 62.5 g 
Fibre (total dietary) 5.1 g 
Sugars 38.8 g 
Calcium 74 mg 
Iron 2.8 mg 
Magnesium 92 mg 
Phosphorus 113 mg 
Potassium 628 mg 
Sodium 28 mg 
Zinc 0.1 mg 
Copper 0.086 mg 
Selenium 1.3  µg 
Fatty acids, total saturated 0.272 g 
Fatty acids, total monounsaturated 0.181 g 
Fatty acids, total polyunsaturated 0.059 g 
Tryptophan 0.018 g 
Lysine 0.139 g 
Methionine 0.014 g2,3 

Table 1: Nutritional value of tamarind per 100 g 

Also Read: Apple: Uses, Benefits, Side Effects, and More!

Properties of Tamarind:

Tamarind is a rich source of many phytochemicals and essential amino acids,   and hence it may have many properties and potential uses, including tamarind benefits for healthThe potential properties of tamarind are given below.

  • It may have an anthelminthic (expels worms) potential
  • It may be a potential antiviral agent
  • It may be an antioxidant
  • It may be an antifungal
  • It may have an antibacterial property
  • It may be helpful for wound healing
  • It may be a carminative (relieves gas)
  • It may be a laxative (cures constipation)
  • It may be an expectorant (helps clear mucus from the throat)
  • It may act as a blood tonic (a supplement usually consumed to produce more blood in the body)
  • It may have an antiulcer potential
  • It may be an anti-diabetic
  • It may be an anti-asthmatic
  • It may be an anti-pyretic (reduces fever)1

I came across a study which showed the positive effect of tamarind on obesity. The extract from the fruit pulp of tamarind may have shown promising effects in reducing weight and lowering lipid levels in obese rats. This means that it might be a helpful option for managing obesity. Further research is needed to explore its potential benefits in humans.

Dr. Siddharth Gupta, B.A.M.S, M.D (Ayu)

Also Read: Pear: Uses, Benefits, Side Effects and More!

Potential Benefits of Tamarind for Overall Health:

Tamarind (Imli) may be helpful for many health conditions because of its high nutritional value and potential properties. When exploring the tamarind benefits, it’s essential to understand its potential use for various health conditions and organ systems.

1. Potential benefits of tamarind for the heart

Tamarind might help with a heart disease called atherosclerosis, in which there is a deposition of fatty material on the inner walls of blood vessels.2 The pulp of tamarind fruit is an excellent source of potassium which might help in controlling the heart rate and blood pressure. Tamarind is also rich in carotene, which might help in lowering bad cholesterol levels which are harmful to the heart.4

Heart conditions are serious and should be diagnosed and treated by doctors, therefore, you should consult a doctor. Moreover, there is a need for more research for stating the potential uses of tamarind for the heart as a fact.  

2. Potential benefits of tamarind for the immune system

Tamarind is a rich source of many nutrients, especially vitamin C, flavonoids, carotenes, and vitamin B complex, which are believed to contribute to numerous tamarind benefits. These compounds might possess potent antioxidant activity, potentially aiding the immune system. However, more research will be required to prove the claimed effects of tamarind on the immune system.

3. Potential benefits of tamarind for iron deficiency anaemia

Tamarind fruit drink may be helpful for iron deïficiency anaemia as it contains vitamin C, which might help in increasing the bioavailability of iron in the body. Tamarind may also be prescribed as a blood tonic by Ayurvedic physicians sometimes. Blood tonics are supplements that may help improve the formation of blood cells.1 However, there is a need for more research regarding the potential use of tamarind for iron deficiency anaemia. Moreover, the condition is to be diagnosed and treated by a doctor, so please consult a doctor.

4. Potential benefits of tamarind for the stomach and the liver

Tamarind benefits for liver are worth considering. Tamarind fruit may serve as a natural laxative, and its components have the potential to promote muscle relaxation, which can be beneficial for managing diarrhea. Furthermore, tamarind seeds contain antioxidants that may help combat free radicals, potentially aiding in conditions such as stomach ulcers. Additionally, studies suggest that tamarind leaves have anti-apoptotic and liver-protective potential, particularly in cases of acute alcohol-induced liver toxicity. However, it is essential to emphasize that more research is needed to confirm these claims. When dealing with stomach and liver issues, consulting a healthcare professional is crucial, and self-medication or altering ongoing treatments should be avoided. The tamarind benefits for stomach are promising, but professional guidance is essential.

5. Potential benefits of tamarind for cancer

Tamarind is a rich source of many antioxidant compounds, contributing to the potential benefits of tamarind for health. Antioxidant activity is considered beneficial for many health conditions like cancer. In cancer, there is oxidative damage. The seed extract of tamarind might have potential antioxidant properties and might also exhibit anti-cancer properties, thereby highlighting the possible benefits of tamarind in addressing cancer. However, much more extensive research is needed to prove the potential use of tamarind for cancer. Cancer is a serious condition and should be diagnosed and treated by a doctor, so please consult the concerned doctor

6. Potential benefits of tamarind for diabetes

Tamarind seed extract may be used as a nutritional support and may be combined with diabetes medicines by doctors to help with diabetes that potentially offers tamarind benefits. The seed extract might show pancreatic protective effect with its potential anti-inflammatory properties, blood glucose regulation, and reversal of damage to pancreatic tissue. However, more research is required to prove such claims. Moreover, diabetes should be diagnosed and treated by a doctor. Kindly consult a doctor.

7. Potential benefits of tamarind for skin

Tamarind use might have positive effects on skin infections, boils, and other skin disorders, indicating the potential benefits of tamarind for skin health. A compound found in tamarind is used as a natural additive compound in sun creams as it shows potential properties of immunoprotection and protection from ultraviolet damage, emphasizing tamarind benefits for skin. However, more research is required to prove the potential uses of tamarind for skin.

8. Potential benefits of tamarind in pregnancy

Tamarind benefits for females during pregnancy are notable. Tamarind serves as a valuable source of essential nutrients, including iron and folate, which play a crucial role in promoting a healthy pregnancy. Additionally, tamarind benefits in pregnancy for females involve helping alleviate common discomforts like nausea and morning sickness, thanks to its soothing properties. However, it’s vital to exercise moderation in tamarind consumption during pregnancy, and consulting a healthcare professional for personalized advice is advisable.

9. Potential benefits of tamarind for hair

The potential use of tamarind for hair is an emerging trend in natural hair care.  and tamarind benefits for hair are becoming increasingly recognized. , as it is rich in vitamins and minerals that can naturally nourish and strengthen hair, promoting lustrous and healthy locks. Tamarind-based treatments and products are believed to improve hair quality, reduce dandruff, and support scalp health. Consider incorporating tamarind into your hair care routine for its potential benefits.

10. Potential benefits of tamarind for sex health

Tamarind is a fruit known for its potential health benefits. While it’s not a direct aphrodisiac, its rich content of essential vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin C and antioxidants, may contribute to overall well-being. Some people believe that tamarind benefits sexually and can indirectly support sexual health by enhancing overall vitality. However, it’s essential to note that more scientific research is needed to establish a direct link between tamarind and sexual health benefits. Always consult a healthcare professional for personalized advice on maintaining a healthy sex life.

Other Potential Benefits of Tamarind

  • Tamarind, when tested in a study, was found to have the potential to help with allergic asthma and cough because of its potential anti-allergic properties.2
  • Tamarind fruits may have potential use as an antipyretic (fever-reducing) agent.
  • Tamarind leaves may be effective for malaria.2
  • Tamarind juice may help with conjunctivitis.4

However, there is insufficient data regarding the potential use of tamarind for the above-mentioned diseases, thereby more research is required to claim such effects. Therefore, do not use tamarind for self-medication and without consulting a doctor.

Though there are studies that show the potential use of tamarind in various conditions, these are insufficient and there is a need of further studies to establish the true extent of the benefits of tamarind on human health. 

According to what I have observed, excess fluoride, especially in drinking water, might be harmful to your health. However, extracts from tamarind leaves and fruit have shown promise in combating fluoride’s negative effects. They may act as antioxidants, reducing fluoride toxicity and protecting the liver and kidneys.

Dr. Rajeev Singh, BAMS

Also Read: Pudina: Uses, Benefits, Side Effects, and More!

How to Use Tamarind (Imli)? 

India is the largest producer of tamarind products in the world. The most valuable used part of the tamarind tree is the fruit, as it contains a sweetish, acidic pulp, which is used for souring tamarind chutney, curries, sauces,  and certain beverages. Although, almost every part of the tamarind tree is used.1,4

  • Tamarind products, leaves, fruits, and seeds have been used in Indian Ayurvedic medicine and traditional African medicine.1
  • The pulp of the fruit has been extensively used for ages as a spice in Asian dishes, especially in the southern part of India. It is also used as a preservative.1,4
  • The edible pulp of ripe fruit is used as a flavouring agent in soups, jams, chutneys, sauces, and juices.4
  • The flowers are used for producing honey.4

You must consult a qualified doctor before taking any herbal supplements. Do not discontinue or replace an ongoing treatment of modern medicine with an ayurvedic/herbal preparation without consulting a qualified doctor.  

Also Read: Benefits of Watermelon Sexually: Exploring Research-Based Effects

Side Effects of Tamarind:

The side effects associated with tamarind use are given below.

  • Tamarind seeds contain certain compounds that decrease digestion. So, it is recommended to consume them after boiling or keeping them in water.
  • Long-term use of tamarind may cause loss of tooth surface (dental erosion) due to its acidic content.2

Kindly do not use tamarind to self-medicate, replace, alter, or discontinue any ongoing treatment on your own. Consult a doctor if you are facing any health-related problems.

In a study I stumbled upon, it was found that taking tamarind extract by mouth might be effective in reducing swelling. It may also help protect bones and cartilage by reducing the levels of enzymes that might break down cartilage, such as metalloproteinases. This suggests that tamarind extract may have the potential in easing inflammation and minimising damage to bones and cartilage.

Dr. Smita barode, B.A.M.S, M.S.

Also Read: Guduchi : Uses, Benefits, Side effects and More!

Precautions to Take With Tamarind:  

There is no sufficient data on the safe usage of tamarind during pregnancy and lactation. Avoid taking tamarind or consult your doctor before taking tamarind during these times and also before giving it to elderly individuals and children.

Please do not self-medicate, replace, alter or discontinue an ongoing treatment.

Interactions with Other Drugs:

Owing to the presence of many therapeutically active compounds, tamarind can show interaction with other drugs.

  • The fruit extracts of tamarind contain a chemical compound that is found to improve the bioavailability of anti-inflammatory drugs (For e.g. ibuprofen), thereby increasing the absorption of anti-inflammatory agents in the blood. So, avoid taking tamarind along with anti-inflammatory drugs.1
  • Tamarind is also found to increase the bioavailability of the antiplatelet drug aspirin, thus increasing the absorption of aspirin in the blood. So avoid consuming tamarind if you are on antiplatelet drugs like aspirin.5

Therefore, you should consult a doctor and ensure that it is safe for you to take tamarind before eating it.

Also Read: Hibiscus: Uses, Benefits, Side Effects, And More!

Frequently Asked Questions: 

Is tamarind good for diabetes?

Tamarind seed extract may be used as nutritional support and might be combined with anti-diabetic agents for managing diabetes by your doctor.2 Kindly consult your doctor. Do not self-medicate, alter, replace, or discontinue an ongoing treatment on your own.

Is tamarind good for the heart?

Tamarind might be helpful for the heart. Tamarind contains a high amount of potassium which might help with blood pressure and heart rate. Tamarind might also help in lowering bad cholesterol levels and may decrease the risk of atherosclerosis (heart disease).2,4 However, more research is required to prove such claims. Kindly consult a doctor for problems related to the heart as it can be serious. It should be diagnosed and treated by a doctor.

Are there any side effects of tamarind?

Tamarind seeds may have an effect on digestion, and long-term use of tamarind may cause loss of the surface of teeth, known as dental erosion.2 Therefore, you should consult a doctor before using tamarind.

How to use tamarind?

Almost all parts of the tamarind tree are used, including its pulp, fruit, seed, leaf, flower, bark, etc.1,4

What is tamarind?

Tamarind is a tropical fruit that grows on the tamarind tree, scientifically known as Tamarindus indica. It is known for its sweet and tangy pulp, which is often used in cooking to add flavor to various dishes, sauces, and candies. Tamarind is also valued for its potential health benefits and is rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.

Is tamarind good for health?

Tamarind is known to be good for health as it’s rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. It can aid digestion, lower cholesterol, and offer potential anti-inflammatory benefits.

Is tamarind good for weight loss?

Tamarind can be beneficial for weight loss due to its high fiber content, which helps control appetite and promote a feeling of fullness. Additionally, it may aid in fat metabolism and support overall weight management when incorporated into a balanced diet.

Is tamarind good for kidney patient?

Tamarind is generally not recommended for kidney patients as it contains a significant amount of potassium, which can be harmful for those with kidney issues. High potassium levels may further strain kidney function, so it’s advisable for kidney patients to limit their consumption of tamarind and consult with a healthcare professional for personalized dietary guidance.

Is tamarind acidic or basic?

Tamarind is acidic in nature. It contains tartaric acid, which gives it a sour taste and makes it acidic on the pH scale.

Can tamarind cause acidity?

Tamarind can potentially cause acidity in some individuals, as it is naturally acidic and may trigger acid reflux or heartburn in sensitive people. It’s advisable to consume tamarind in moderation if you are prone to acidity or digestive discomfort.

Can tamarind cause cough?

Tamarind is not typically associated with causing cough. However, in rare cases, an individual with a tamarind allergy might experience throat irritation or cough as part of their allergic reaction. If you suspect an allergy, consult a healthcare professional.

Can tamarind stop period?

Tamarind is not scientifically proven to stop periods. While some traditional remedies suggest its use for menstrual irregularities, there is no concrete evidence to support this claim. It’s important to consult with a healthcare provider for any concerns related to menstrual health.

Can tamarind cause miscarriage?

There is no scientific evidence to suggest that consuming tamarind can cause a miscarriage. However, it’s essential for pregnant individuals to moderate their tamarind consumption and consult with a healthcare professional for dietary guidance during pregnancy.

Can tamarind be stored in fridge?

Yes, tamarind can be stored in the fridge to extend its shelf life. Place it in an airtight container or wrap it in plastic wrap to prevent moisture and odor absorption. This will help maintain its freshness for an extended period.

Can tamarind cause constipation?

Tamarind is more likely to relieve constipation due to its high dietary fiber content. It can help promote regular bowel movements and alleviate constipation when consumed in moderation.

Can tamarind cause gas?

Tamarind may cause gas or bloating in some individuals, as it contains certain natural sugars and fiber that can ferment in the digestive tract, leading to gas production. If you are sensitive to these effects, it’s best to consume tamarind in moderation.

Can dogs eat tamarind?

Feeding tamarind to dogs is generally not recommended, as it can be toxic to them. Tamarind seeds and the fruit itself may cause digestive issues, including blockages or intestinal upset in dogs. It’s best to avoid giving tamarind to your pet and consult with a veterinarian if you suspect they have consumed any.

What does tamarind taste like?

Tamarind has a unique flavor that is both sweet and sour. Its taste is often described as a combination of sweet dates and tangy citrus, with a slightly earthy undertone. It’s commonly used to add a sweet and tart flavor to dishes and beverages.

Is tamarind good for liver?

Tamarind may be beneficial for the liver due to its potential antioxidant and liver-protective properties, but more research is needed to establish its effectiveness. Consult with a healthcare professional for personalized advice on liver health.

Can tamarind lower blood pressure?

Tamarind contains potassium and antioxidants, which may have a mild blood pressure-lowering effect. However, it should not replace prescribed blood pressure medications, and consulting a healthcare professional is advisable for proper management.

Can tamarind be stored in plastic?

Yes, tamarind can be stored in plastic containers, but it’s best to use airtight, food-safe containers to maintain freshness and prevent moisture or odor transfer. Make sure the container is clean and dry before storing tamarind.

Can tamarind seeds be eaten?

Tamarind seeds are edible but usually not consumed due to their hard texture and bitter taste. They are often discarded when eating tamarind fruit or used in alternative applications like as a thickening agent or for their potential health benefits.

Is tamarind gluten free?

Tamarind is naturally gluten-free, making it a safe choice for individuals with gluten sensitivity or celiac disease. However, it’s essential to check for potential cross-contamination when using processed tamarind products, as additives or manufacturing processes could introduce gluten.

Is tamarind fruit or vegetable?

Tamarind is a fruit, specifically a leguminous tree fruit, known for its sweet and tangy pulp. It’s often used in various culinary applications and not considered a vegetable.

Is tamarind beneficial for males?

Tamarind offers potential health benefits that are not gender-specific, benefiting both males and females alike. Its nutritional value, including vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, can support overall well-being and may indirectly enhance men’s health by promoting vitality and wellness. However, it’s not a specific remedy for male health issues, and consulting a healthcare professional is recommended for personalized health concerns.

References:

  1. Saideswara Rao Y, Mary Mathew K. Tamarind. Handbook of herbs and spices. 2012:512-33. Available from: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/284506160_Tamarind
  2. Kuru P. Tamarindus indica and its health related effects. Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Biomedicine. 2014 Sep 1;4(9):676-81. Available from: https://pubag.nal.usda.gov/catalog/5552205
  3. U.S. Department Of Agriculture. FoodData Central. Tamarind, raw. 2022. Available from: https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/167763/nutrients
  4. Thombare P, Kumar S, Kale P. Tamarind: Value Added Products and its Health Benefits. [Internet]. 2022;(5). Available from: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/341069628_Tamarind_Value_Added_Products_and_its_Health_Benefits/link/5eab96e345851592d6ae6ff9/downloadhttps://www.researchgate.net/publication/341069628_Tamarind_Value_Added_Products_and_its_Health_Benefits
  5. Lim JW, Chee SX, Wong WJ, He QL, Lau TC. Traditional Chinese medicine: herb-drug interactions with aspirin. Singapore medical journal. 2018 May;59(5):230. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5966631/

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Eng.Dr.MUKONKO Geofrey Kapwa

This is very nice information