Have you ever tried this exotic, deliciously tangy fruit native to Africa? It grows in warmer, drier areas of Mexico, Asia, and India.
Tamarind has long been used in alternative medicine for treating sunstroke and sore throat. It could also have antibiotic and cholesterol-lowering effects, but more human studies are needed to prove these effects.
It is high in vitamins B, and C, magnesium, potassium, thiamine, iron, fiber, riboflavin, and phosphorus.
Tamarind extracts are also said to provide wound healing, anti-venom, antimicrobial, and antioxidant properties. Also, it is effective against asthma and malaria.
But, is it good for people with diabetes? How does it affect blood glucose levels?
Here are the answers to these and more questions related to tamarind and diabetes.
Tamarind and Blood Sugar Levels
The Pakistan Journal of Biological Sciences published Web MD in 2014 showing the effects of tamarind bark extract on blood glucose levels. Researchers gave the tamarind bark extract to rats with high blood glucose, which experienced a reduction in their glucose levels.
The second experiment involved rats who took the extract, followed by a large amount of sugar. The results showed that the tamarind extract weakened the increase in their blood glucose. These rat experiments are promising, but the extract is still not tested in humans.
Tamarind and Antioxidant Effects
Accumulation of free radicals can cause a chemical imbalance in the body of oxidative stress. Oxidative stress can damage the pancreatic cells responsible for producing insulin. Also, it can contribute to the progression and development of diabetes.
However, antioxidants help neutralize free radicals, lower oxidative stress, and prevent further tissue damage.
Pharmacognosy Research published a 2011 study that shows tamarind seed extract has antioxidant properties.
Another Time Snow News by the “British Journal of Diabetes and Vascular Disease” suggests vitamin C and E supplementation can help fight oxidative stress, thus controlling blood sugar levels. And, as we said, tamarind is high in these vitamins.
Still, there are no studies that determine the effects of tamarind products on people with diabetes.
Tamarind and Kidneys
As you may know, diabetes can take a toll on the kidneys over time. “Acta Poloniae Pharmaceutica” published a study that shows tamarind bark extract can reduce blood glucose levels in rats, as well as less protein leakage in the urine.
Protein leakage from the kidneys is one of the early signs of kidney damage linked to diabetes. So, researchers believe the extract might protect kidneys against diabetes-related damage. Once again, there are no studies on the effects of tamarind products on kidneys in those with diabetes.
Due to the lack of human studies, we shouldn’t use tamarind products for treating diabetes before consulting a doctor. Also, our doctor will help us avoid possible side effects if we take certain diabetes medications.
Where to Find Tamarind
We can find it in many grocery stores, as well as in Asian and Mexican markets. It’s available in the form of a pod, sauce, paste, or block. Even though it’s usually sugar-free, don’t forget to check the label.
Tamarind and Coconut Chicken Curry Recipe
Here’s one delicious way to use tamarind in our cooking.
Ingredients for the Chicken:
- 10 skinless, boneless chicken breasts and thighs;
- 1 teaspoon of coarsely ground black pepper;
- Juice of two limes;
- 1 teaspoon of turmeric;
- 2 tablespoons of tamarind pulp;
- 1 tablespoon of chopped or dried coriander;
- 3 tablespoons of coconut oil;
- ¾ cups of coconut milk;
- 1 can (1/3 cup) of coconut cream.
Ingredients for the Dressing:
- 2-4 tablespoons of coconut oil;
- 1½ teaspoon of mustard seeds;
- 1½ tablespoons of fresh or dried curry leaves (optional);
- 3 crushed garlic cloves;
- 2 finely diced onions;
- ½ tablespoon of paprika;
- 2½ tablespoons of minced ginger;
- A few tablespoons of vegetable or chicken stock;
- Chopped tomatoes (the same amount as two small canned tomatoes);
- 1 tablespoon of raw brown sugar or golden muscovado sugar.
Coat the chicken with a mixture of pepper, lime juice, and turmeric. Take a large skillet and heat the oil. Then, add curry leaves, mustard seeds, and onions. Mix well, cover, and cook on low for around 15 minutes. Don’t forget to stir occasionally.
Add ginger and garlic, increase heat, and then add the tomatoes, paprika, raw brown sugar, stock, and dried curry leaves. Cook uncovered for around 20 minutes to make sure the sauce has reduced and thickened.
Fry chicken in heated oil until golden. Remove the excess oil and let it cool a bit before adding half a cup of water. Mix and add the juice to the tomato sauce. Next, put the chicken in a roasting pan, and pour the sauce over it.
Bake covered in a preheated oven to 325 F for around 15 minutes, to make sure the chicken is tender.
Next, transfer it to a serving dish. Bring the stovetop-safe roasting pan to a simmer on low heat, and add half the coconut cream, coconut milk, and tamarind pulp. Ladle over chicken and drizzle with the rest of the coconut cream. Finally, sprinkle some coriander and serve.