Tamarind nutrition facts

Sweet and tangy tamarind is one of the widely used condiment spices found in every South Asian kitchen!

The tree is very large with long heavy drooping branches and dense foliage. Full grown-up tree might reach up to 80 feet in height. During each season, the tree bears irregularly curved pods in abundance all along its branches. Each pod has thick outer shell encasing deep brown color sticky pulp enveloping 2-10 hard dark-brown color seeds.

Botanically, the tree is among the large tropical trees belonging to the family of Fabaceae, of the genus:Tamarindus. Scientific name: Tamarindus indica.

Tamarinds are evergreen tropical trees native to Africa. They grow throughout tropical and subtropical regions of Africa, South Asia, South America and Caribbean islands.

Health benefits of Tamarind

  • Tamarind fruit contains certain health benefiting essential volatile chemical compounds, minerals, vitamins and dietary fiber.

  • Its sticky pulp is rich source of non-starch polysaccharides (NSP) or dietary-fiber such as gums, hemicelluloses, mucilage, pectin and tannins. 100 g of fruit pulp provides 5.1 or over 13% of dietary fiber. NSP or dietary fiber in the food increases its bulk and augments bowel movements thereby help prevent constipation. The fiber also binds to toxins in the food thereby help protect the colon mucus membrane from cancer-causing chemicals.

  • In addition, dietary fibers in the pulp bind to bile salts (produced from cholesterol) and decrease their re-absorption in the colon; thereby help excretion of “bad” or LDL cholesterol levels from the body.

  • While lemon composes of citric acid, tamarind is rich in tartaric acid. Tartaric acid gives a sour taste to food but is also a very powerful antioxidant. (Anti-oxidant E-number is E334). It helps the body protect from harmful free radicals.

  • Tamarind fruit contains many volatile phytochemicals such as limonene, geraniol, safrole, cinnamic acid, methyl salicylate, pyrazine and alkyl­thiazoles. Together these compounds account for the medicinal properties of tamarind.

  • This prized spice is a good source of minerals like copper, potassium, calcium, iron, selenium, zinc and magnesium. 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 as a co-factor for cytochrome oxidases enzymes.

  • In addition, it is also rich in many vital vitamins, including thiamin (36% of daily required levels), vitamin A, folic acid, riboflavin, niacin, and vitamin-C. Much of these vitamins plays antioxidant, and co-factor functions for enzyme metabolism inside the body.

Medicinal uses of Tamarind

  • Its pulp has been used in many traditional medicines as a laxative, digestive, and as a remedy for biliousness and bile disorders.

  • This spice condiment is also used as emulsifying agent in syrups, decoctions, etc., in different pharmaceutical products.

    See the table below for in depth analysis of nutrients:

    Tamarind (Tamarindus indica), 
    Nutritional value per 100 g. 
    (Source: USDA National Nutrient data base)
    PrincipleNutrient ValuePercentage of RDA
    Energy239 Kcal12%
    Carbohydrates62.50 g40%
    Protein2.80 g5%
    Total Fat0.60 g3%
    Cholesterol0 mg0%
    Dietary Fiber5.1 g13%
    Folates14 µg3.5%
    Niacin1.938 mg12%
    Pantothenic acid0.143 mg3%
    Pyridoxine0.066 mg5%
    Thiamin0.428 mg36%
    Vitamin A30 IU1%
    Vitamin C3.5 mg6%
    Vitamin E0.10 mg<1%
    Vitamin K2.8 µg2%
    Sodium28 mg2%
    Potassium628 mg13%
    Calcium74 mg7%
    Copper0.86 mg9.5%
    Iron2.80 mg35%
    Magnesium92 mg23%
    Phosphorus113 mg16%
    Selenium1.3 µg2%
    Zinc0.10 mg1%
    Carotene-ß18 µg--
    Crypto-xanthin-ß0 µg--
    Lutein-zeaxanthin0 µg--

    Selection and storage

    tamarind pods
    Tamarind pods. Note for brown color, tart and sweet-flavored pulp enclosed inside semi-hard shell.

    Fresh tamarind pods are available in late spring and early summer seasons. However, several different forms of processed tamarind such as compressed tamarind blocks, ready-to-use slice, paste, concentrates, balls, etc. are made available in the markets.

    Choose fresh unbroken pods packed in boxes. If you are purchasing processed form, buy the product from a well reputed authentic brand. Avoid old, desiccated pulp, or off-smelling products. 

    Once at home store the pods or pulp in the refrigerator where it will stay fresh for several months.

    Culinary uses

    tamarind sauce
    Tamarind and chilli pavlova. 
    Photo courtesy: Rc

    Delicately sweet and sour, tamarind is one of the most sought-after ingredients in Indian, Middle Eastern and south-East Asian cooking. In some Indian households, the pods are cut open and fresh pulp is used as and when required. The seeds are then removed by beating the pulp with “wooden stick” kept at home especially for this purpose. One may also carefully use paring knife to separate seeds.

    In general, a small slice of the pulp is soaked in half a cup of warm water for about 10 minutes. Swirl the pulp with your fingers so that the pulp is dissolved evenly in water to make thin sauce. Strain the juice through a thin cloth sieve and use for cooking.

    Here are some serving tips:

    • Tamarind is a common ingredient all over India and South-East Asia in curries, “rasam”, chutneys, as well as in vegetable and lentil recipes.

    • The pulp is also favored in “hot and sour” soups as well in marinades.

    • The juice made of tamarind pulp with addition of dates, sugar, honey, cardamomcloves, and coriander seeds are a refreshing drink marketed in different parts of the world.

    • Its pulp is also used in confectionaries as solidifying agent.

    Safety profile

    Tamarind has no known reported cases of allergic or toxicity, and may be safely used in pregnancy and in nursing mothers.

    (Medical disclaimer: The information and reference guides on this website are intended solely for the general information for the reader. It is not to be used to diagnose health problems or for treatment purposes. It is not a substitute for medical care provided by a licensed and qualified health professional. Please consult your health care provider for any advice on medications.)

    Source info: http://www.nutrition-and-you.com


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