The Health Benefits Of Tamarind (Mkwaju)

Tamarind fruit - open and whole - health benefits
Tamarind fruit - open and whole - health benefits Image from

Tamarind also known as Mkwaju In Kenya or Imli is the product of a hardwood tree native to Africa and also found in India, Pakistan, and other tropical regions. The tree produces bean-like pods filled with seeds surrounded by a fibrous pulp. When ripe, the juicy pulp becomes paste-like and more sweet-sour.

High in nutrients

Tamarind is highly nutritious with magnesium, potassium, iron, calcium, phosphorus, copper, vitamins B1, B2, and B3, and antioxidants. It also has trace amounts of vitamins C, Vitamin K, B6, B5, folate, and selenium.

Tissue health

Amino acids are the building blocks of protein which are necessary for the body to grow and repair tissues. Tamarind contains significant amounts of all but one essential amino acids.

Rich in magnesium

Tamarind is rich in the mineral magnesium. Magnesium plays a role in a wide variety of body functions including helping lower blood pressure. It also has anti-inflammatory and antidiabetic effects. This mineral is critical to neurological health. People with depression often have low serum levels of magnesium. Insufficient levels of magnesium may also contribute to cognitive decline in the form of dementia.


Tamarind is rich in antioxidants. Antioxidants protect cell DNA from damage by free radicals. Scientists believe that many cancers begin with harm to the DNA, so this protection reduces the risk of developing cancer. The antioxidants also help regulate cholesterol levels which is a key driver of heart disease.

Has anti-inflammatory properties

Inflammation is linked to a variety of illnesses including heart disease and arthritis. The B vitamins are a source of energy and have anti-inflammatory properties. They reduce inflammation in the veins and arteries, preventing hardening and keeping them pliable which reduces the risk of heart disease and stroke. Tamarind is particularly beneficial in the treatment of arthritis, slowing down the rate of deterioration often seen in various arthritic conditions.

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Improves digestion

Tamarind has long been used as a laxative and home remedy for constipation, abdominal pain, and other digestive issues. The fruit is used to relieve constipation, the leaves to treat diarrhea, and the root and bark to alleviate abdominal pain.

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Prevent and treat peptic ulcers

Peptic ulcers are painful sores that appear in the stomach and small intestines. One study found that tamarind seed extract has a protective effect on ulcers because of its polyphenolic compounds. Those same compounds have been found to prevent ulcers.

Has antifungal, antiviral, and antibacterial effect

Tamarind has antifungal, antiviral, antibacterial, and antiseptic properties. For this reason, it has traditionally been used to treat diseases like malaria, conjunctivitis, or pink eye, and bacterial infections. It is believed that smearing a bit of its pulp on cuts may heal them faster. The fruit is also used in the management of diabetes.

Tamarind is easy to add to your diet. Just peel it and suck the pulp around the seeds. Alternatively, peel the seeds, collecting the pulp in a container. Boil the pulp to make a paste then sieve it to remove the thick fibers then store the pulp in the fridge. It will last for a week in the fridge and longer in the freezer. You can use the paste in a variety of ways including mixing it with barbecue sauce and other sauces of your choice for a sweet-sour tangy taste.

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