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 vitamin B, 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, to be 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.
The Pakistan Journal of Biological Sciences published an animal study 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.
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.
The Pharmacognosy Research published a 2011 study that shows tamarind seed extract has antioxidant properties.
Another research analysis by the “British Journal of Diabetes and Vascular Disease” suggests vitamin C and E supplementation can help fight oxidative stress, thus control 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 in people with diabetes.
As you may know, diabetes can take a toll on the kidneys over time. The “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 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 medication.
We can find it in many grocery stores, as well as Asian and Mexican markets. It’s available in the form of pod, sauce, paste, or block. Even though it’s usually sugar-free, don’t forget to check the label.
Here’s one delicious way to use tamarind in our cooking.
Coat the chicken with a mixture of pepper, lime juice, and turmeric. Take a large skillet and heat 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 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.