With its distinct flavours of both sweet and sour, tamarind (imli) is a staple in Indian cooking. It makes for a delicious ingredient in or accompaniment of several dishes, ranging from chutneys to desserts.
But the goodness of the spice doesn’t just stop at its taste. Tamarind has a long history of medicinal usage, due to the presence of phytonutrients that help in maintaining good health. It is also packed with several other nutrients like Vitamin C, B1, B2, B3, as well as magnesium, potassium, iron, calcium, and phosphorus. It is also rich in fibre and protein with zero fat content.
So it’s no wonder that experts often recommend that you include this ingredient as part of your daily diet.
“Tamarind has long been used in medicine. This tart-sweet spice is packed with tartaric acid, which is a powerful antioxidant that inhibits the growth of free radicals (responsible for damaging body cells) in the body,” Lokendra Tomar, a Delhi-based nutritionist, told NDTV Food.
What else is tamarind good for? Here’s what experts say:
1. Helps in weight loss
Due to its high fibre content and zero fat, tamarind is often suggested by experts as an excellent ingredient to help in weight loss. Besides, it contains one of the most important compounds, known as hydroxycitric acid (HCA), which helps in losing weight, as it inhibits an enzyme in the body that specifically helps store fat.
The fibre content helps in promoting satiety, keeps you full for longer, and reduces craving for unhealthy food.
2. Helps in boosting immunity
Tamarind is rich in Vitamin C and several other antioxidants that help in boosting the immune system by inhibiting the growth of microbial and fungal infections.
3. Helps in managing blood sugar levels
Tamarind has a glycemic index of 23, which is considered in the low category. Studies say that tamarind seed extract has anti-inflammatory properties and is said to stabilise blood sugar levels and reverse the damage of the pancreatic tissue in diabetics.
4. Promotes digestion
According to experts, tamarind can help in maintaining good gut health. It contains a high amount of potassium content, as well as malic and tartaric acid, which help in improving the digestive system. The fibre also helps in flushing the toxins out of the body.
5. Good for the heart
The presence of flavonoids in tamarind promotes good heart health. These flavonoids help in lowering LDL or “bad” cholesterol and raise HDL or “good” cholesterol levels. This prevents the build-up of triglycerides, keeps blood pressure in check, and reduces the risk of heart diseases.
Want to make tamarind juice at home? Here’s how you can do it:
- Wash 50 gms of tamarind and remove all the seeds
- Boil two glasses of water and add the washed tamarind
- Boil it for 3 to 5 minutes
- Switch it off and sieve the drink
- Add 1 tsp of honey and 2-3 ice cubes
- The drink is ready
(Edited by Divya Sethu)
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