Sweet tamarind is a unique tasting fruit that also doubles up either as a spice, or as a tangy-sugary condiment in various Indian dishes, especially on those drool-worthy chaat items, in the form a chutney. Native to South Africa, sweet tamarind grows on the tree that goes with the botanical name Tamarindus indica L. from the Fabaceae family. Also known as Tamarindo in various parts of the world, this unique tasting fruit is known as Meethi Imli in Hindi, Teeya Chintapandu in Telugu , Innipu Puli in Tamil, Puli in Malayalam and Mishti Tetul in Bengali.
The ever-green tropical tree reaches up to 24 metres in height and 7 metres width sporting very tiny flowers in pale yellow colour. Sweet tamarind trees and regular tamarind trees look very similar and this unique fruit is shaped like a pod, with hard, brown shell. Each fruit grows up to 4 to 6 inches in length containing 6 to 12 seeds and the taste of pulp can vary anywhere between slightly acidic to sweet depending on the season.
As the pods mature, the pulp gets transformed into a gooey textured paste and is a staple in South East Asian cuisine including chutneys, curries, sauces, soups and even in the preparation of candy.
Sweet Tamarind Nutrition:
Sweet tamarind pulp is a powerhouse of antioxidants, phytochemicals and other essential nutrients including Vitamin A, C, E, K, B6, magnesium, phosphorous, calcium, negligible amounts of protein and zero cholesterol. Also Read: Vitamin B6: Functions, Food Sources, Deficiencies and Toxicity
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Health Benefits of Sweet Tamarind:
Sweet tamarind has been always an integral part of traditional medicine for many centuries. Ayurvedic practitioners recommend the intake of meethi imli for combating digestive issues like abdominal pain, diarrhoea, constipation, healing of wounds, swelling and for fighting certain parasitic and bacterial infections.
Meethi imli can be consumed raw and it is an ideal snack for weight watchers as it contains very little fat and no cholesterol. However, diabetics should exercise caution, as it is high in sugar at around 68.9 grams per cup. Adding it regular diet can meet 7 per cent of your daily protein intake and carbohydrates in ample amounts, for fuelling the system and keep you satiated for longer hours.
And here’s why you should include sweet tamarind, into your diet plan:
Meethi imli is a storehouse of vitamins, antioxidants that aid in averting the risk of chronic diseases. These antioxidants cleanse the body from external and internal pollutants like free radicals, trigger enzymes that play a pivotal role in digestion.
Being rich in vitamin C and beta carotene and polyphenols this new super food decreases oxidative stress and prevents cancer, cardiovascular conditions, hyperglycemia, neurological conditions and osteoporosis. Also Read: 5 Splendid Immune Boosting Foods That Bolster Your Resistance - Infographic
Sweet tamarind is your quick fix home remedy if you are battling digestive issues. Chewing on the pulp of this tangy-sugary fruit stimulate digestive juices for proper digestion. With 24 per cent dietary fibre, meethi imli serves as a natural laxative that can add bulk to the stool for its smooth passage through intestines. Patients suffering from various digestive disorders including constipation, irritable bowel syndrome should make it a habit of including sweet tamarind in regular diet.
Ideal For Diabetics:
The glycemic index of sweet tamarind is less than 55 making it an ideal fruit for the consumption of diabetics. Though loaded with natural sugars it doesn’t harm the system, more than the processed ones, so one can eat in moderate amounts. According to nutritionists, sweet tamarind doesn’t randomly impact blood sugar levels and can even prevent sudden spikes.
Good For Heart:
Sweet tamarind is a good mix of all three essential components – calcium, magnesium and potassium for maintaining the heart health. While magnesium helps in maintaining blood pressure, relaxation of muscles, calcium is required for preventing complications related to hypertension. Potassium is another crucial mineral that balances fluid and lower the risk caused due to high sodium levels in the blood.
Meethi imli prevents building up of bad cholesterol or LDL and triglycerides in the blood. High levels of LDL and triglycerides are a sign of poor health, that can cause blocks in the arteries, restricting the blood flow, affecting the optimal functioning of heart. Researchers state that the amount of fibre present in the sweet tamarind shields the body from the absorption of cholesterol into the blood.
Since, sweet tamarind is available either in the form of a candy or as a paste, it can cause lead poisoning. Children and pregnant women should exercise caution and it is always advisable to eat it in moderate amounts, for all age groups. Lead poisoning will drastically impact the functioning of kidneys and nervous system which could be fatal.
Sweet tamarind or meethi imli is a staple ingredient in Indian and South East Asian cuisines which is used in the preparation of sauces, candies, curries, soups etc. Loaded with antioxidant vitamins, minerals, this tangy-sweet fruit is ideal for those dealing with digestive disorders, heart related issues and is good for diabetics too. It is a natural laxative, shields body from the absorption of bad cholesterol into the blood.
However, eat this versatile fruit in moderate amounts to avert the risks associated with lead poisoning and it is not recommended for children and pregnant women.