What Is Tamarind? A Tropical Fruit With Health Benefits?
Tamarind is a tropical fruit with many health benefits. It has been used since ancient times for its medicinal properties. Today it is one of the most popular fruits in India and other parts of Asia. The plant contains compounds called saponins which have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antiviral, antibacterial and antifungal activities. These are the main reasons why it has become so popular worldwide.
The fruits contain high levels of polyphenols (plant compounds that have biological activity). These include flavonoids, anthocyanidins, quercetin and kaempferol. They are thought to reduce blood pressure, lower cholesterol and protect against heart disease. The seeds contain phenolic acids such as catechins, epicatechin and epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) which may prevent cancer in humans.
It is believed that tamarind consumption may improve cardiovascular health, reduce risk factors for colon cancer and possibly even lower the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. There are some studies suggesting that tamarind intake may decrease the risk of stroke and dementia. Other studies suggest that it could help prevent or delay age related macular degeneration (AMD), cataracts, glaucoma, Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease. It is also known to increase life span in laboratory animals.
Due to its relatively high levels of the antioxidants, it has been suggested that regular consumption of tamarind could be beneficial in the treatment of acne. The high fiber content can help improve digestive issues such as constipation and diarrhea. In South Asian traditional medicine, the pulp is used to make cough syrups and the dried seeds can be made into a paste to treat toothaches. It also contains minerals such as potassium, magnesium and calcium which are essential for maintaining bone health.
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