Daily Trust (Abuja)

Nigeria: Tamarind - Priceless Spice in Your Backyard

Tamarind known as Tsamiya in Hausa is used as a spice for 'kunun stamiya', to non-Hausas and other people who have been seeing the agriculture product, that is probably how far they know of the Tamarind. Well, Tamarind has many health benefits also unknown to people.

it can be used as a mild laxative. The pulp which comes from the pods of the tamarind tree is a gentle laxative that improves general bowel movement.

Mrs. Sarah Abagai, Head, Dietetics Department at the National Hospital, Abuja confirms this. "Tamarind (tsamiya) is used in some cultures as laxatives. It helps to cleanse the bowels. People steep it in water and drink the juice. It helps to clear the bowel. For others that experience constipation, if they make it a habit of drinking tamarind juice/drink, it helps to cleanse the system. That is one thing the tamarind drink does."

Some medicinal benefits of it are as follows. Tamarind leaves are used in herbal tea for reducing malaria fever. Tamarind lowers cholesterol in the body and helps in promoting healthy heart. Sore throat is treated when gargled with dilute tamarind pulp. Tamarind protects from Vitamin C deficiency.

Though sweet and sour, it is an important ingredient added to Kunun gyada, a recipe that some people use to break their fast. The sour taste makes kunun Gyada very tasty. Tamarind is used as condiment spice in some South Asian kitchen too. While lemon contains citric acid, tamarind is rich in tartaric acid. Tartaric acid gives a sour taste to food, but is also a very powerful antioxidant. It protects the body from harmful free radicals.

This prized spice is a good source of minerals like copper, potassium, calcium, iron, selenium, zinc and magnesium. Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids that helps control heart rate and blood pressure.

It is also rich in many vital vitamins including thiamin, vitamin A, folic acid, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin-C that are essential for optimum health.

In addition, dietary fibres in the pulp bind to bile salts (produced from cholesterol) and decrease their re-absorption in the colon; thereby help excretion of "bad" or LDL cholesterol levels from the body.

To reduce high cholesterol some health experts prescribes this.

Take 150 to 200 grams of tamarind leaves, finely crushed. Add to a glass of (220 ml) boiled water. Then strain and drink until gone. Do it three times a day.

Tamarind fruit contains many volatile phytochemicals such as limonene, geraniol, safrole, cinnamic acid, methyl salicylate, pyrazine and alkyl¬thiazoles. Together these compounds account for the medicinal properties of tamarind.

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