If you've savored the tangy red sauce that accompanies appetizers and tandoori entrees at Indian restaurants, you've enjoyed tamarind. The pulp of the tropical fruit, which is prevalent throughout Asia and Africa, is used to enhance the flavor and texture of dishes and sauces. You can buy tamarind in juice, paste, pulp, cream and supplement form in the United States. Because tamarind supplements lack evidence of effectiveness and may cause side effects, seek guidance from your doctor before using them.
Antioxidants are substances that counteract free radicals -- unstable oxygen molecules that break down your skin cells, causing wrinkles. Because tamarind is a rich source of antioxidants, including vitamin C and beta-carotene, topical creams containing tamarind are suitable for wrinkle management, according to a report published in the "Journal of Natural Product and Plant Resource" in 2011. Antioxidants also promote strong immune function, allowing your skin to fend off and heal more efficiently from skin-related infections and disease. In other words, you can enjoy the skin cream and eat tamarind, too.
Improved Blood Sugar and Appetite Control
American pharmaceutical companies use 100 tons of tamarind pulp yearly for use in blood sugar-managing medications, according to "Phytopharmacology and Therapeutic Values." One tablespoon of tamarind paste provides 12 percent of adults' daily recommended intake of fiber -- an indigestible carbohydrate that promotes blood sugar and appetite control. To reap these benefits, incorporate tamarind paste or puree tamarinds into your favorite recipes, such as curries, stir-fries and meat marinades.
Improved Eye Health
As an A vitamin, the supply of beta-carotene in tamarind helps ensure eye health and normal vision. A vitamins may also lower your risk for age-related macular degeneration, a leading cause of blindness in the United States. They may also slow the progression of macular degeneration once it strikes, particularly when you combine them with other antioxidants, such as vitamin C.
Improved Digestive Health
More than 4 million Americans experience frequent constipation, according to the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse, including more women than men. A diet lacking fiber or fluids -- both of which tamarind provides -- are primary constipation causes. Tamarind paste provides about 3 grams of fiber per tablespoon. Tamarind pulp is also fiber-rich. For a particularly high-fiber dish, pair tamarind paste or pulp with other fiber sources, such as lentils, beans, dark green vegetables and brown rice.
Although tamarind is recognized as generally safe, according to HealthLine.com, tamarind seed powder has been linked with coughing. Overexposure to tamarind flour could cause chronic lung problems and in rare cases, tamarind candy has caused lead poisoning -- a condition that can be fatal. Tamarind supplements can interact with dietary supplements and medications, such as gingko biloba, aspirin, ibuprofen and blood sugar-lowering drugs. Before using tamarind for medicinal purposes, seek guidance from your doctor, particularly if you have a medical condition.
- Phytopharmacology and Therapeutic Values; Singh Dheeraj et. al.
- Mayo Clinic: Wrinkle Creams: Your Guide to Younger Looking Skin
- LIVESTRONG.com: The Daily Plate: Calories in Tamarind
- Office of Dietary Supplements: Vitamin A Fact Sheet
- National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse: Constipation
- ShareCare.com: What Medications Can Interact with Tamarind Supplements?
- HealthLine.com: Tamarind: Safety
August McLaughlin is a health and sexuality writer, podcast host and author of “Girl Boner: The Good Girl’s Guide to Sexual Empowerment” (Amberjack Publishing, 2018). Her articles appear in DAME Magazine, Cosmopolitan.com, the Huffington Post and more, and she loves connecting with readers through her blog and social media. augustmclaughlin.com