The Little-Known Brown Fruit That Could Help Lower High Blood Pressure – Health Digest

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For people of South Asian origin, tamarind is not a little-known fruit. In fact, it makes a popular paste (tamarind paste) that is often used in marinades, chutneys, fish curries, sauces, and even desserts. Its sweet and tangy flavor can be easily recognized in a dish. For the rest of the world, however, tamarind paste might not be the most popular ingredient in their homes.

Paste aside, tamarind is, as we said before, a fruit. Some say it tastes like dates, although the zestiness of the fruit adds a different dimension. Said to be native to Africa, tamarind trees, which are known to reach 80-100 feet in height, are also spread across the tropical regions of India and Pakistan, and other tropical and subtropical areas. There are also two main kinds of tamarind, a sweet kind native to Thailand and a sweet/sour version. The fruit is actually inside a pod and when cracked open, a fibrous brown pulp comes attached to the seeds. The pulp is what you consume. The rest you discard.

This humble fruit packs a punch when it comes to nutritional and health benefits. It’s got lots of magnesium, potassium, iron, calcium, copper, phosphorous, vitamin B1, B2, and B3, and even has small amounts of vitamin C, vitamin K, folate, and selenium. Turns out, it could also help you with the problem of high blood pressure.

Tamarind could reduce your blood pressure levels

According to a 2023 study published in the journal Nutrients, tamarind was shown to have anti-hypertensive properties, otherwise known as reducing high blood pressure. More specifically, the sour fruit was found to be more effective than the sweet variety. Interestingly, an older study found that the fruit didn’t have any significant effect on systolic blood pressure or body weight, but it did reduce diastolic pressure in the subjects. 

Both diastolic blood pressure and systolic blood pressure are important when it comes to blood pressure readings. The former is the pressure blood exerts on your artery walls when your heart is beating and the latter is about blood pressure when your heart is resting. It is also worth noting that tamarind’s effects on blood pressure readings have proven to be insignificant, at least according to a 2020 study published in the International Journal of Preventative Medicine. 

Even so, the fruit’s benefits when it comes to your heart health are worth thinking about. For example, according to a 2014 study published in the Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Biomedicine, tamarind’s rich profile of polyphenols and flavonoids could help decrease “bad” or low-density lipoprotein cholesterol and increase “good” or high-density lipoprotein cholesterol. These same compounds can also reduce inflammation in your system and prevent the development of chronic disease.

Consuming tamarind for high blood pressure (and other reasons)

For people who aren’t accustomed to the unique taste of this little-known fruit, it can seem a bit unusual at first but the more you try the fruit in your cooking (or on its own), the more you’d come to love the taste. 

To add the fruit in your cooking, you can purchase the paste from a store near you, but be mindful of added sugars, other additives, and preservatives. Tamarind comes in a few other forms like powder and concentrate too. For a meat marinade, you can combine a bit of tamarind with other ingredients like turmeric, green chilies, onions, etc. You can also get the pods as a whole and try eating the fruit in its natural form (minus the pod, the string-like substance around it, and the seeds, of course). What you want is the dark brown fruit that feels pulpy to the touch. Making the paste at home is also pretty easy. “To make a paste in its pure form, the only thing you should add to the tamarind is water,” explained registered dietitian, Devon Peart (via Cleveland Clinic). 

As for how much you should be consuming, experts say that it’s best to think moderation. “Tamarind is nutrient-rich, so, on balance, it’s a healthy food when you enjoy it in moderation. Just stick to one serving at a time, which is half a cup,” added Peart. When it comes to blood pressure, however, there are more fruits that can help lower high blood pressure that you can easily add to your diet.



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