Tamarind is a flat and irregularly shaped fruit obtained from the tamarind tree, Tamarindus indica. The brownish tamarind pods have 3 to 12 reddish brown inside a sour and juicy pulp. seeds. The fruit is commonly used as a flavouring agent in cuisines all around the world. Tamarind is popularly known as Imli in India.

Tamarind is a legume belonging to the family Fabaceae. It is native to Africa but India is the largest producer of tamarind in the world. In India, tamarind is cultivated in the states of Maharashtra, Karnataka, Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, and Tamil Nadu. In fact, it is one of the primary ingredients in South Indian cuisine.

Tamarind can be eaten raw or can be added to soups, sauces, curries, and chutneys. Unripe tamarind pods can be used for flavouring rice, fish, and meats, Apart from the pulp, the flowers and leaves of the tamarind tree can also be used in cooking.  In many parts of India, imli goli (tamarind candy) is served as a digestive aid after meals.

But tamarind isn’t just a flavouring agent. It has been used as a traditional medicine for ages. Tamarind can help balance cholesterol, keep diabetes under control, can help in lowering blood pressure and it can also prevent certain types of ulcers. Dried and boiled tamarind flowers and leaves are considered an effective medicine for sprains, boils, swollen joints, and conjunctivitis.

Some basic facts about tamarind:

  • Scientific Name: Tamarindus Indica
  • Family: Fabaceae
  • Common name: Tamarind, Imli (Hindi)
  • Sanskrit name: चिञ्चा (cinca)
  • Native region and geographical distribution: Madagascar in East Africa is believed to be the origin of tamarind. India, Thailand, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Africa, Australia, Central, and South America are some of the countries where tamarind is commonly cultivated.
  • Interesting fact: Tamarind pulp is used in temples to polish brass lamps, statues, and plates.
  1. Tamarind nutrition facts
  2. Tamarind health benefits
  3. Tamarind side effects
  4. Takeaway

Tamarind contains several nutrients that are beneficial for the body. It is rich in minerals such as calcium, phosphorus, potassium, and magnesium. It also contains various essential vitamins such as vitamin A, B3, B9, C and K. Tamarind contains a very small amount of fat.

As per the USDA Nutrient Database, 100 grams of raw tamarind contains the following values: 

Nutrients Value per 100 gram
Energy 239 kcal
Fat 0.60 g
Carbohydrates 62.50 g
Fibre 5.1 g
Sugars 38.80 g
Water 31.40 g
Protein 2.80 g


Minerals Value per 100 gram
Calcium 74 mg
Iron 2.80 mg
Magnesium 92 mg
Phosphorus 113 mg
Potassium 628 mg
Sodium 28 mg
Zinc 0.10 mg



Vitamins Value per 100 gram
Vitamin A 2 µg
Vitamin B1 0.428 mg
Vitamin B2 0.152 mg
Vitamin B3 1.938 mg
Vitamin B6 0.066 mg
Vitamin B9 14 µg
Vitamin C 3.5 mg
Vitamin E 0.10 mg
Vitamin K 2.8 µg


Fats/ Fatty acids Value per 100 gram
Saturated 0.272 g
Monounsaturated 0.181 g
Polyunsaturated 0.059 g

Tamarind for stomach

Many people suffer from problems like abdominal pain, diarrhea, and gastrointestinal disorders because of poor dietary and lifestyle choices. Research suggests that tamarind can aid in proper digestion and help relieve some of these digestion problems. Tamarind leaves are traditionally used to prevent indigestion. In Thai medicine, tamarind fruit is used to aid digestion, reduce stomach gas and prevent constipation. In some countries, the extract prepared from the root, bark, and twigs of the tamarind tree are used for relieving abdominal pain.

Tamarind for peptic ulcers

Peptic ulcers are painful sores which occur on the inner lining of the stomach and the upper part of the small intestine. These ulcers could be caused by many factors including heavy medication, bacterial infection (Helicobacter pylori) or alcohol consumption. However, excessive acidity can also damage the stomach wall. A preclinical study was conducted to examine if tamarind seed extract possesses anti-ulcer properties. The result from the study revealed that the methanolic extract from tamarind seeds helps slows down the release of gastric juices in the stomach thus alleviating ulcers. Traditionally, a tonic made from tamarind bark is used to treat ulcers.  The powder made from the seed is externally applied to treat certain types of ulcers. Tamarind flowers are also used as a remedy for skin ulcers.

(Read more: Peptic ulcer treatment)

Tamarind for high blood cholesterol

Cholesterol is essential for building healthy living cells. However, high levels of cholesterol can clog the arteries (atherosclerosis) which in turn is responsible for problems like high blood pressure, stroke and heart attack. Various studies suggest the hypolipidemic properties of tamarind. According to a preclinical study, extract from the tamarind pulp show a reduction in the total cholesterol level (TC) and low-density lipoprotein (bad cholesterol) level. It also led to an increase in the high-density lipoprotein (good cholesterol) level. The study also indicated that tamarind could potentially be used to treat atherosclerosis.

(Read more: High cholesterol treatment)

Tamarind for high blood pressure

A low sodium to potassium ratio is essential for maintaining blood pressure levels in the body. Potassium helps in relaxing the blood vessels, thereby reducing blood pressure. Tamarind is rich in potassium and could potentially help in relieving hypertension. According to a clinical study, consumption of 15mg /Kg of tamarind per day can lead to a significant reduction in diastolic blood pressure.

(Read more: High blood pressure treatment)

Tamarind for diabetes

Diabetes is a condition wherein the body is unable to metabolize glucose. This glucose stays in the bloodstream leading to an increase in blood sugar levels. Several studies show the potential of tamarind in treating diabetes. A preclinical study revealed an association between the anti-inflammatory properties of tamarind seed extract and diabetes. The study suggests that tamarind seed extract exhibit an anti-inflammatory action on the beta cells of pancreatic islets and decreases the levels of inflammatory cytokines. Together, these properties help in improving insulin levels and reducing diabetic complications. Another animal-based study showed the presence of certain phytochemicals such as flavonoids that has the potential to reduce the blood glucose level. 

Tamarind for inflammation

Inflammation is a physical condition which is caused as a reaction to an infection or injury. It is characterized by swelling, redness, pain, and discomfort in the affected area. Animal-based studies suggest the anti-inflammatory potential of tamarind leaf extract. It was further reported that catechins, mucilage, pectin, and uronic acid are the major anti-inflammatory compounds present in tamarind. A research on various extracts made from tamarind seeds also indicated the presence of essential alkaloids, flavonoids, phenolic compounds, and steroids that exhibited anti-inflammatory properties.

(Read more: Inflammatory disease types)

Tamarind has antioxidant properties

Oxidative stress happens when the body is unable to fight the harmful effects caused by free radicals (reactive oxygen species). This could be a risk factor in conditions like cancer, arthritis, cardiovascular and neurodegenerative diseases. According to a study, tamarind seed coat extract possesses antioxidant properties. The study revealed that the presence of phenolic compounds such as catechin, epicatechin, and procyanidin B2 was responsible for scavenging off the free radicals and mitigating oxidative stress. Another research was done to access if tamarind seed powder can be added as a natural antioxidant to food products such as juices and cookies. The research reported that adding tamarind seed powder to these food products activate certain bioactive phytochemicals and increases their antioxidant properties.

(Read more: Antioxidant food sources)

Tamarind for weight loss

Obesity is a condition marked by an excessive fat deposition in the body tissues. Some common causes of obesity include over-eating, less physical activities, and certain medical conditions. Research shows that tamarind seed can help prevent weight gain. A preclinical study revealed that tamarind seed contains a trypsin inhibitor which prevents weight gain. This trypsin inhibitor promotes satiety, thereby curbing the feeling of hunger and preventing too much intake of food. This hints towards the potential use of tamarind as a natural alternative to anti-obesity drugs.

(Read more: Diet chart for weight loss)

Tamarind as an antimicrobial

The fruits and leaves of tamarind are known to possess antimicrobial properties. Research demonstrates the antifungal properties of the tamarind fruits against Aspergillus niger, which is the most common cause of fungal ear infection and Candida albicans, which is commonly associated with oral and vaginal infections. Tamarind fruit extract also possesses antimicrobial properties against some common disease-causing bacterial species such as Escherichia coli and Salmonella paratyphi. Owing to the antimicrobial action of tamarind, the plant extract of tamarind is used to purify drinking water in some countries.

Tamarind plant extracts are also commonly used to treat plant infections caused cowpea mosaic virus. Certain compounds such as triterpenoids and other phenols and alkaloids present in tamarind extract can help prevent pests and diseases in plants.

  • Tamarind has been found to possess hypoglycemic properties. So, if you are a diabetic person on medication, it is best to avoid regular consumption of this fruit. In one case study, a 47-year-old male with poorly controlled diabetes reported that his sugar levels fluctuate periodically in spite of being on diabetes medication. On thorough research, it was found that the cause of his fluctuating blood glucose the consumption of tamarind herbal pills for cough.
  • Studies suggested that frequent consumption of large quantities of tamarind can lead to gallstone disease.
  • Tamarind is known to reduce blood pressure. If you are on medications for high blood pressure, it is best to avoid tamarind.

Tamarind has a unique flavour because that is both sweet and sour.  Almost every part of tamarind including the roots, barks, leaves, flowers, and fruits possess healing and medicinal properties. Addition of tamarind in your cuisine can have varied health benefits. It is a good source of minerals, phytochemicals, antioxidants, and vitamins which are needed for the optimal functioning of the body. Tamarind can help treat conditions such as diabetes and obesity, It has antimicrobial properties and can also prevent certain types of ulcers.

Medicines / Products that contain Tamarind


  1. United States Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service. Basic Report: 09322, Tamarinds, raw. National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference Legacy Release [Internet]
  2. Santosh Singh Bhadoriya et al. Tamarindus indica: Extent of explored potential . Pharmacogn Rev. 2011 Jan-Jun; 5(9): 73–81. PMID: 22096321
  3. Health Harvard Publishing. Harvard Medical School [Internet]. Potassium lowers blood pressure. Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts.
  4. Sole SS et al. Anti-inflammatory action of Tamarind seeds reduces hyperglycemic excursion by repressing pancreatic β-cell damage and normalizing SREBP-1c concentration. Pharm Biol. 2013 Mar;51(3):350-60. PMID: 23151094
  5. Bhadoriya SS et al. Antidiabetic potential of polyphenolic-rich fraction of Tamarindus indica seed coat in alloxan-induced diabetic rats. J Basic Clin Physiol Pharmacol. 2018 Jan 26;29(1):37-45. PMID: 28888089
  6. Pankaj Kalra, Sunil Sharma, Suman, Suresh Kumar. Antiulcer effect of the methanolic extract of Tamarindus indica seeds in different experimental models . J Pharm Bioallied Sci. 2011 Apr-Jun; 3(2): 236–241. PMID: 21687352
  7. Santosh Singh Bhadoriya et al. Anti-Inflammatory and Antinociceptive Activities of a Hydroethanolic Extract of Tamarindus indica Leaves . Sci Pharm. 2012 Jul-Sep; 80(3): 685–700. PMID: 23008815
  8. Oranuch Nakchat et al. Tamarind seed coat extract restores reactive oxygen species through attenuation of glutathione level and antioxidant enzyme expression in human skin fibroblasts in response to oxidative stress . Asian Pac J Trop Biomed. 2014 May; 4(5): 379–385. PMID: 25182723
  9. Sheilla Natukunda, John H. Muyonga, Ivan M. Mukisa. Effect of tamarind (Tamarindus indica L.) seed on antioxidant activity, phytocompounds, physicochemical characteristics, and sensory acceptability of enriched cookies and mango juice . Food Sci Nutr. 2016 Jul; 4(4): 494–507. PMID: 27386100
  10. Fabiana M. C. Carvalho et al. A Trypsin Inhibitor from Tamarind Reduces Food Intake and Improves Inflammatory Status in Rats with Metabolic Syndrome Regardless of Weight Loss . Nutrients. 2016 Oct; 8(10): 544. PMID: 27690087
  11. Viroj Wiwanitkit. Hyperglycemia in poor controlled diabetes from crude tamarind herbal pill: a case study . Asian Pac J Trop Biomed. 2011 Jan; 1(1): 79–80. PMID: 23569730
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  13. Sukij Panpimanmas, Charuwan Manmee. Risk Factors for Gallstone Disease in a Thai Population . J Epidemiol. 2009; 19(3): 116–121. PMID: 19398852
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