What’s all the fuss about Tamarind?
Sweet, tangy tamarind has been touted as a super food for good reason. It offers a wide range of benefits, from improved heart health to reduced arthritis pain. According to a 2012 study published in the Journal of Natural Medicines, it may even help with weight loss. So what, exactly, is tamarind and how can you incorporate it into your diet?
What is Tamarind?
The tamarind tree (Tamarindus indica) is a large tropical tree that produces bean-like pods up to 7 inches long. The ripe fruit of those pods can be eaten raw, made into a paste or pulp, or dried and ground into a spice. Tamarind is also used in jams and sauces and it’s a common ingredient in savory dishes throughout Asia and South America. With so many uses, you’ve probably eaten food made with healthy tamarind without even knowing!
Why it’s good for you:
Packed with vitamins and minerals, tamarind has been shown to provide some pretty impressive health benefits. Because it’s high in fiber, tamarind delivers a range of benefits, from improved digestive health to reduced cholesterol. Packed with antioxidants, it can help prevent heart disease, cancer and other ailments. It’s also a very good source of iron making it an excellent vegetarian option for anyone suffering from anemia. Because the essential oils in tamarind have anti-inflammatory abilities, it can also help manage joint pain and arthritis. And when used as a spice, tamarind is high in hydroxycitric acid (HCA), which inhibits an enzyme in the body that helps store fat. Tamarind is also believed to increase the serotonin neurotransmitter, which can suppress appetite and help fight the symptoms of depression. Sounds pretty amazing right?
How to eat it:
The best way to consume tamarind is in your food. Over the past decade, fresh tamarind has become more readily available in grocery stores. If yours doesn’t carry it, try a Latin or Indian market. But even if you can’t find fresh tamarind, many recipes call for tamarind pulp or paste, which can be easily ordered online. Refreshing Tamarind Juice can be made in minutes. Healthy, hearty main dishes include Tamarind Red Lentils and Caribbean Style Chicken, for a side dish try Cucumber Cabbage Salad, and classic Tamarind Balls are a tasty sweet treat. Once you get comfortable cooking with tamarind, experiment with adding it to rice dishes, stews, dressings, and desserts to create your own delicious dishes.