Growing up in the local areas of the Southeastern part of Nigeria, we often look forward to the month between February and May, when velvet tamarind would be available and cheaper, easier to fetch from the farm and, also ripe.
We often describe velvet tamarind as vitamin C fruit. True to its name, velvet tamarind is well packed with vitamin C and other strong antioxidants. If you have a eaten the fruit, you would agree with me that this wonderful fruit is a vitamin C packed one. But that’s not all, the fruit also contain vitamin A and beta-carotenoids.
Where you can get velvet tamarind
Velvet tamarind is a wild plant, and as such, can easily be plucked from the nearby bushes. Most people do go to the bushes, plucked the fruits when they’re ripe and sell in local markets.
So you can easily get it in the local markets or across streets in the rural areas. But this must happen during the season of fruiting.
Venvet tamarind is rich in vitamins and minerals
Just as is common with every fruit, velvet tamarind is packed with vitamin A, C, beta-carotenoid and minerals like sodium, magnesium, iron, phosphorus and calcium. These nutrients are essential for your health and cellular functions.
Benefits of velvet tamarind
Velvet tamarind is a natural antioxidant. As such, the plant fruits are very essential for fighting increasing oxidative stress and free radicals.
Beyond the fruit pulp, the seeds, and leaves are also being used in traditional medicines for various purposes.
Velvet tamarind improves breast milk secretion
This wonderful fruits are good for breast feeding mothers. It may also help mothers who find it difficult producing breast milk for their children.
According to studies, the pulp of velvet tamarind contains some active compounds that enhances the secretion of breast milk in lactating mothers.
The relatively cheap price of velvet tamarind compared to other fruits, makes it sb affordable, but seasonal fruits.
Black velvet tamarind pulp is made up of non-digestible carbohydrates such as dietary fiber. This fiber is not digested in the small intestine. Its work however is to aid in digestion of other foods.
Dietary fiber also helps in reducing blood sugar level as it makes one remain filled, and thereby reducing the rate of calorie consumption. It is also helps in reducing bad cholesterol from the blood vessels.
Velvet tamarind is good for healthy eyes
Potassium is involved in the maintenance of a good, healthy eyes. The presence of potassium in foods helps in making sure your eyes remain wet. When you lack potassium, you would experience dry eyes which also comes with itching, twitching and several other symptoms of dry eyes.
Some other compounds such as vitamin C, also help to maintain a healthy functioning of the eyes. Remember that velvet tamarind contains vitamin A, which is well known for preventing night blindness and the unset of cataract.
Stimulates red blood cell production
When compounds are needed in the body in order for your body to produce enough red blood cells. Some of these compounds, which are also richly present in velvet tamarind include vitamin C, iron, calcium, and copper. These compounds work in concert to ensure that you body is supplied with fresh blood on a regular basis.
You already know that iron plays a crucial role in the production of blood, and in the transportation of oxygenated blood from the lungs to various parts of the body. However, iron has a very poor solubility, and therefore is dependent on the presence of vitamin C to get into the duodenum.
Vitamin C enhances the absorption of dietary iron, thereby making it bioavailable for the cells and for red blood cell production. Copper and calcium also enhances blood production.
Copper helps in the making of hemoglobin, which is needed for blood production. It is also needed in the absorption of dietary iron from the duodenum. Calcium is essentially important in blood clotting, thereby preventing excessive loss of blood during an injury.
Maintains the body homeostasis
You know that potassium is very important to your body, right? One of its numerous importance is in the maintenance of the acid-base balance. A distortion in the your body’s homeostasis can lead to several ailments. For instance, an imbalance in your body’s acid-base ratio can cause either acidosis or alkalosis. This also would affect your respiratory health and functionality.
The role of potassium in your system is to maintain the acid-base balance. Therefore, since velvet tamarind fruits possess potassium in a good quantity, it may be recommended to a patient who is treating either of the imbalance.
Velvet tamarind possesses anti-inflammatory compounds
Zinc is an immune regulator. It is so versatile in its roles in the body that it almost get involved in virtually all cellular functions. But one of the main role of zinc in the body is immunoregulatory functions.
Zinc is antimicrobial and reduces inflammations in the body. It is involved in the regulation of chronic inflammatory status through the reduction of inflammatory cytokines. Zinc also reduces oxidative stress by participating in the synthesis of antioxidant enzymes and acts as a catalyzer of enzymes, taking part in lipid, carbohydrate, and protein metabolism.
Another anti-inflammatory compound is vitamin C. Its role as an anti-inflammatory compound stems from its ability to ride the body of free radicals, and suppress oxidative damages on the autoimmune system. Free radicals is involved in the onset of immune responses, which translates to inflammations. Inflammation as you know is one mechanism the immune system uses in fighting infective organisms in our body.
Reduces body pains
Velvet tamarind fruits possess some of the active compounds seen in sports and massaging creams for body pains. Some of such compounds include methyl salicylate, pyrazine, alkyl triazole limonene, geraniol, safrole cinnamic acid. These compounds are used also in cosmetic formula for bruises, sprains, arthritis, back and muscle pains.
Since those compounds are effective when applied topically on your skin, you can imagine how effective velvet tamarind would be when you eat a good quantity of it, probably on a daily basis.
Velvet tamarind promotes healthy skin
If you are looking for natural sources of antioxidants, then you should look no further beyond velvet tamarind. This is because the fruit pulps contains strong antioxidants such as vitamin C, tartaric acid, and several other phytochemicals like polyphenols.
The tartaric acid present in the body, together with the vitamin c protects your skin from oxidative damages caused by oxidative stress.
Tartaric acid acts as an exfoliator on your skin, thereby removing dead cells from your skin pores. By so doing, it maintains the freshness of your skin, something most people pay huge amounts to get it done on them through surgical operations. They also keep your skin moist and succulent.
Velvet tamarind tea for menstrual cramp
Beside the sweet fruit pulp of velvet tamarind, the leaves and stem barks have been used in various traditional medicines. You can use the leaf tea, or prepare a decoction in alcoholic solution for some of the illnesses. For menstrual cramp, the leaf tea of velvet tamarind is used to stop the pains of menstruation in women.
Menstruation periods are usually the periods of intense pains for women. While for some women, this pain can be mild, others do experience excruciating pains. This makes velvet tamarind leaf tea a great help, as it possesses the ability to reduce the menstruation pain and ensure easy flow of menstruation.
Velvet tamarind leaves for ulcer
The leaf tea of velvet tamarind has the ability to cure gastric ulcer. When taken, either cold or warm, the leaf extract increases the secretion of gastric mucus, thereby preventing the ulceration effects of high gastric acidic environment.
The leaves also possess antimicrobial properties which is needed to prevent the growth of the bacteria responsible for causing ulcer. These combined effects of velvet leaves on ulcer may be compared to that of Rapini juice or broccoli juice.
For treating malaria
Malaria is one of the diseases ravaging the African continent. This is due to the high growth of mosquitoes. The malaria parasites, plasmodium, is being transmitted by its vector which is the female anopheles mosquitoes. When infected, the parasites feed off the host’s red blood cells, thereby causing high fever and in some cases, anemia due to insufficient red blood cells to transport oxygens to the cells.
Owing to the high rate of resistances to orthodox medications, most African dwellers have resorted to the use of herbal remedies, which Africa is blessed with, to treat malaria parasites. One of this remedies is your favorite velvet tamarind leaves. The plant leaves have been shown to possess antiplasmodium activities, which is due to the numerous bioactive compounds present in the plant, include zinc mineral element.
So next time you fall to malaria, drink a cup of the leaf tea morning and evening. You can add ginger powder to it for effectiveness.
For joint pain
The leaves of velvet tamarind are used in treating arthritis and joint pains. The leaves are pounded into a paste and applied topically to the affected area. Thereafter, it is rapped over with plasters and left for a day before applying fresh pastes.
For tooth ache
In local settings, velvet tamarind stems are used as chewing sticks. But that is not all, these stems possess active compounds for relieving tooth aches and as mouth wash to clear your oral cavity of any odour.
Velvet tamarind leaves for constipation
Just like the fruit pulp, the leaves are packed with fiber. Fibers are used to stop constipation and is also good for the heart health, as it lowers bad cholesterols.
Velvet tamarind is astringent and is useful for stop excessive discharge of bodily fluids from your body. So it is good for stopping diarrhoea.
Is velvet tamarind the same thing as manila tamarind?
Although both tamarinds share similarity in their functions; for example, both improves brain functions and eye sight, unlike velvet tamarind, manila tamarind does contain vitamin E, and B complex vitamins. They are also not within the same species. You can however purchase both and eat together.
Finkelstein, F. O., Juergensen, P., Wang, S., Santacroce, S., Levine, M., Kotanko, P., Levin, N. W., & Handelman, G. J. (2011). Hemoglobin and plasma vitamin C levels in patients on peritoneal dialysis. Peritoneal dialysis international : journal of the International Society for Peritoneal Dialysis, 31(1), 74–79.
Olechnowicz, J., Tinkov, A., Skalny, A. et al. Zinc status is associated with inflammation, oxidative stress, lipid, and glucose metabolism. J Physiol Sci 68, 19–31 (2018).