Tamarind (Imli in Hindi) is a sweet, sour and acidic fruit used in various recipes. Tamarind fruit grows on a medium sized bushy tree which can reach up to a height of 60 feet, sometimes even taller. The tree has a thick trunk, and a dense foliage with large leaves. The leaves have between 10-20 pairs of small leaflets, and red and yellow flowers followed by long pods. The pods have a curved, budged, hard and stiff shell which contains brown or reddish pulp with shiny hard seeds. It is native to tropical Africa, growing mainly in Sudan and Nigeria, but also in South Asia and other tropical regions.
Part used: Fruit pulp and leaves.
Chemical composition: Tamarind pulp is rich in antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. It also contains sugar, carbohydrates, protein, fiber, tannins, saponins, tartaric acid, vitamins A, B, C, sodium, potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, iron, calcium, copper and zinc.
Medical benefits: Tamarind pulp is used in sweetened chutney, syrups, jams and curries. It is a mild laxative and anti-helminthic. Tamarind contains minerals and vitamins and generally improves overall health. It improves immunity and protects from diseases such as cold and fever. It also helps address vitamin C deficiency. When mixed with water, the pulp forms a syrup that helps to reduce indigestion. Due to the potassium content, it is known to improve the functioning of the heart, maintain blood pressure, improve blood circulation, and reduce cholesterol. It is also used as a blood purifier. Gargling with dilute tamarind water can help with a sore throat. An infusion of leaves with water or leaf tea is used to treat malaria, fever and jaundice. Tamarind seeds are used in eye drops for curing ophthalmia and dryness of eyes.
Contraindications: Pregnant and nursing women, people suffering from gallstones problems. Tamarind increases the absorption of aspirin and so therefore, it is contraindicated to persons taking aspirin.