Almost every child who grew up in West Africa, Nigeria specifically, will easily recognize the African Velvet tamarind (Popularly known as Awin in Yoruba, Icheku in Igbo and Tsamiyar kurm in Hausa).
This seasonal fruit is fondly called vitamin C by children because of the orange color of its flesh which is usually covered with a black shell.
African Velvet tamarind, is scientifically called Dialium Guineense and grows specifically in West African countries. While it is one of the most consumed seasonal fruits, not everyone who consumes it know about its wonderful health benefits.
It is known that the velvet tamarind’s orange-colored flesh is healthy for consumption, but it has also been discovered that the stem and back of this fruit are healthy as well. In this article, you will learn that the velvet tamarind is rich in excellent minerals like magnesium, sodium, potassium, and iron.
Vitamin C is also one of the many vitamins contained in this seasonal fruit. Below are a few of the nutritional facts about the African velvet tamarind.
1. Treatment for gastric ulcer
Gastric or stomach ulcer is very common forms of ulcer. They are open sores that form inside the esophagus lining, small intestine, or stomach. Common symptoms of this kind of ulcer include – belching, stomach pains, heart burns, change in appetite, burning pain in the stomach area, and indigestion.
While a lot of people assume that gastric ulcer is only caused by hunger, it infects can be caused by a wide range of factors. Some of the causes of this ulcer include excessive intake of alcohol, constant use and abuse of pain relievers anti-inflammatory and nonsteroidal medications, and even infection with Helicobacter pylori [H. Pylori] bacteria.
The leaf of the velvet tamarind has been discovered to be as valuable as the fruit itself. The leaf extract has been revealed to contain phytonutrients as well as potent anti-ulcer priorities that can be used as a cure for stomach ulcer. Several studies have been carried out on the effectiveness of this leaf extract as a cure for ulcer.
Findings from one of the studies carried out by Balogun et al. at the department of health science, Ebonyi State University, Abakaliki, Nigeria, revealed that the velvet tamarind leaf extract contains phytochemicals like alkaloids, flavonoids, saponins, tennis, and anti-ulcerogenic qualities.
All of the aforementioned are capable of causing improvement in mucus secretion which will reduce the symptoms of ulcer and also protect the colon from cancer cells. This makes velvet tamarind leaf extract a cheaper way to stay healthy.
2. Cure for Malaria
One of the most common medical conditions that a lot of Nigerians suffer from is no doubt malaria. And a few studies have revealed that there are over 1 billion cases of the malaria illness annually in Nigeria. Malaria is primarily caused by the Plasmodium parasite, and the easiest way a lot of people contract this disease is through mosquito bites.
Some of the symptoms of malaria that are easily noticeable include vomiting, nausea, fever, headache, sweating, fatigue, and muscle pain. One of the many health benefits that are linked to the velvet tamarind fruit is a cure or possible prevention for malaria.
The leaf extract of the Velvet tamarind fruit has been discovered to contain anti plasmodial qualities which will help in delaying the growth of Plasmodium. Plasmodium falciparum, as we already know, is the primary cause of the malaria illness.
Nigeria is one of the African countries known for its use of herbs in the treatment of illnesses such as malaria, ulcer, and many others. The Velvet tamarind leaves combined with other herbs have worked satisfactorily as a cure for malaria in Nigeria for many decades.
3. Keeps hypertension in check
Hypertension, which is also known as high blood pressure, is one condition that has slowly killed millions of people around the world for many years. In Nigeria alone, studies revealed that over 1.5 million people are annually diagnosed with hypertension.
Some of the causes of hypertension have been identified to include chronic kidney diseases, excessive consumption of alcohol or tobacco, potassium deficiency, sleep apnea, stress, and even high cholesterol levels.
One of the reasons why hypertension is a complicated medical condition is the fact that in a lot of cases it doesn’t come with any symptoms at all. That explains why it is referred to as a silent killer.
If hypertension is left unattended, it may result in stroke, heart disease, and ultimately death. A few herbs have been identified to possess the capability of reducing or lowering high blood pressure and velvet tamarind is luckily one of these herbs.
Velvet tamarind is a great source of essential minerals such as copper, iron, potassium, calcium, zinc, selenium, and magnesium. All of these minerals are greatly beneficial to human health and can also help to prevent hypertension.
Potassium is an essential mineral that makes a vital component of body fluids and cells that help to keep our heart rate and blood pressure in check. Potassium as we earlier mentioned can be found in velvet tamarind, which is why this fruit is capable of regulating high blood pressure.
Something else that the Velvet tamarind can do is to reduce the negative effects of salt (sodium) in the human body, at the same time easing tension which will reduce high blood pressure.
Iron plays a relevant role in the production of energy as well as red blood cells and velvet tamarind contains iron. When a person suffers from iron-deficiency, there is a strong tendency that it will result in high blood pressure.
Therefore, if you’re in search of a natural way to reduce the risk of high blood pressure it is recommended that you begin to consume foods and fruits that are rich in potassium and other minerals. A fruit like velvet tamarind is the best option for you.
4. Great for oral hygiene
Africans have long used chewing sticks to maintain good oral hygiene before the Invention of toothbrushes. The Velvet tamarind stem has been discovered to be capable of treating a wide range of mouth problems which includes toothaches.
Velvet tamarind has saponin and many other chemical components that are capable of soothing irritated gums, removing dirt and plaques from the teeth and tongue, as well as fighting microbes that could lead to mouth odor.
And a lot of people have oral health problems when they change toothpaste or when they use toothbrushes that are too hard. Instead of purchasing a regular chewing stick which you may not be comfortable with, it is best to opt for a velvet tamarind stem and enjoy the numerous oral health benefits that it can provide.
Velvet tamarind also has antibacterial properties, and this makes it a good ingredient for different health and skin care products like soaps shampoos body creams and even makeup.
5. Helps to relieve menstrual cramps
Only a small percentage of women roaming the earth can boast of having cramp free menstrual periods. Most women already identified drugs that can be purchased over-the-counter, to ease their pain during these times. However, the good news is that velvet tamarind can help to reduce menstrual cramps significantly.
The stem bark of the Velvet tamarind fruit has been used as an analgesic locally to relieve pains like stomach aches, toothaches, and even menstrual cramps. The interesting part is the stem bark can either be boiled or chewed to enjoy its analgesic effects.
One Sure way of using herbs to cure conditions is by combining different herbs to get the desired effect. For velvet tamarind as an analgesic, it is best combined with salt and water as well as papaya leaves.
The above are only a few of the significant health benefits that the Velvet tamarind fruit has to offer humanity.
Some other velvet tamarind health benefits include its use in cancer treatment, treatment of severe cough and diarrhea, relieving migraines and strong pains, helping nursing mothers improve lactation, promoting digestive health, the treatment of wounds and scars, and also as a cure for hemorrhoids.
As you can already deduce from this article, the Velvet tamarind is not only a nutritious seasonal fruit that can be found in Africa, it is also a wonderful herb that has proven useful in the treatment of several illnesses.
However, it is important to note that this fruit has a high sugar content thus it must be consumed in moderation. You can either eat velvet tamarind raw as a snack or use it as an ingredient for cooking. Either way, you are sure to enjoy it.