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Imli Benefits: 10 Surprising Health Benefits of Tamarind

Ms. Asma Zulfiqar

5 min read

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If you are craving to eat a fruit with a balance of sweet and sour, imli is the fruit for you. Tamarind, also known as Imli in Urdu is a tropical fruit grown in pods and has a sweet and sour taste. It comes from a hardwood tree native to Africa and India, and it is a popular ingredient in Pakistani cuisine.

It is used raw in Pakistani food, or you can make chutney or dip to accompany different kinds of foods from its pulp. Like other fruits, many people also like to consume tamarind fresh out of the pod or spices.

Imli Benefits

Imli is not just a simple ingredient, it has been used in traditional medicine for ages to treat illnesses like malaria. Following are the 10 surprising health benefits of Imli are:

1. Boosts Immunity

Imli is rich in Vitamin C and other antioxidants. Due to these, imli can enhance your body’s immune system. Moreover, due to its antiseptic and anti-fungal properties, it can fight off allergies and other infections.

2. Reduces Cancer Risk

Antioxidant-rich diets have many benefits. One of them is that it lowers the risk of cancer. As imli is high in antioxidants, it can aid in preventing cancer. Antioxidants help your body get rid of free radicals, leading to cancer.

3. Protects your liver

Imli extract contains procyanidins which can counter the effects of liver damage. Alcoholic or non-alcoholic fatty liver has become a recurring problem of the modern age. As imli offers protection to the liver, it is beneficial for people who suffer from fatty liver disease. It also helps in detoxifying the liver as it has high fiver.

4. Beneficial for the bones

Magnesium and calcium are vital for healthy bones. Imli contains sufficient calcium and magnesium that promotes bone health. Having magnesium and calcium in enough quantities can help prevent osteoporosis. Moreover, those who consume diets rich in magnesium have better bone density.

5. Good for the brain

Imli has a high content of Vitamin B minerals, especially B6, B1, Thiamine, and folate. All of these are essential for your overall health.

Moreover, they are vital for the smooth functioning of your brain and nervous system. Most adults get enough Vitamin B through their diet and do not need supplements. Adding Imli to your diet may also help you reach the daily target of Vitamin B that your body requires.

6. Aids digestion

Imli is known to be a good laxative for ages due to the tartaric acid, potassium, and malic acid present in imli. Imli fruit is an effective remedy for constipation as it relaxes the stomach muscles. Furthermore, its leaves offer an effective treatment for diarrhea, while the root and bark of its tree can help ease abdominal pain.

7. Heart health-friendly

Tamarind contains polyphenols and flavonoids that lower bad cholesterol (LDL) and increase good cholesterol (HDL). It prevents the accumulation of triglycerides.

Hence it is a heart-healthy fruit to add to your diet, but do ask a Nutritionist in Lahore to determine how much tamarind you should eat in a day. Furthermore, the dried pulp of imli can help manage hypertension due to its anti-hypertensive properties.

8. Helps with tissue health

Tamarind is rich in amino acids except for tryptophan. Amino acids consumed with food build protein in your body. These proteins help the body to grow and heal.

9. Helps with weight loss

Tamarind is full of fiber and has low-fat content that keeps you fuller for longer, reduces cravings, and suppresses your appetite. Additionally, polyphenols and flavonoids boost metabolism, and the fiber bulks up your stool.

10. Works wonders for your skin

Tamarind is valuable for your skin as it contains antioxidants, Vitamin C, A, and alpha-hydroxyl acids (AHA). Due to its many properties that benefit the skin, it acts as a lightening agent and helps reduce dark spots and pigmentation naturally. Moreover, as it is rich in antioxidants, it can prevent aging.

Side Effects of Imli

While there are numerous health benefits of Imli, it has a few drawbacks too. Moderation is key, and consuming imli in a moderate amount is safe, but if taken in large portions it can:

1. Problem controlling blood sugar

Overconsuming imli can lower your blood sugar level and cause problems with controlling blood sugar.  

2. Medicine Interactions

Tamarind can react with certain medications like aspirin, non-steroid anti-inflammatory, and other drugs that you may be taking. It can result in serious problems, including bleeding.

It is better to consult a General Physician in Lahore to know if it is okay to have tamarind and that they will not interfere with your medication or treatment.

3. Allergic Reaction

A lot of people suffer from an allergic reaction to foods. Similarly, some people may be allergic to tamarind and need to avoid it. The signs of an allergic reaction include but are not limited to rashes, itching, nausea, dizziness, and a stinging sensation.

4. Lead poisoning from imli candies

The production of candies involves a lot of steps. According to Healthline, in 1999, imli or tamarind candies were a leading cause of lead poisoning.

Tamarind itself doesn’t contain lead. Due to its acidic components, lead can seep into candies through ceramic vessels. Moreover, as there is added sugar in candies, it isn’t a very healthy form of tamarind.

5. Sugar content

The sugar in imli is natural, and its pulp derives most of its calories from it. Even with its high nutritious value, having too much imli can impact your sugar. Imli is often the main ingredient in candies and drinks which have added sugar content.

Consuming these sweet treats made from tamarind may deter weight loss or increase blood sugar in diabetic patients. If you’re watching your weight, consult a Nutritionist in Islamabad who can determine how much imli you should have while following a diet according to your body type.

Imli Nutritional Information

Imli is a nutrient-rich fruit. It contains natural sugar found in almost all fruits. It has no added sugar as having excessive sugar can cause problems like type 2 diabetes. A half-cup (120 grams) of imli contains

  • Calories: 143
  • Protein: 2 grams
  • Fat: 0 grams
  • Carbohydrate: 38 grams
  • Fiber: 6 grams
  • Sugar: 34 grams

The nutrients in Imli as a percentage of daily recommended intake are:

  • Vitamin B1: 43%
  • Vitamin B2: 14%
  • Vitamin B3: 15%
  • Potassium: 16%
  • Magnesium: 26%
  • Iron:19%
  • Calcium: 7%
  • Phosphorus: 11%
  • Dietary fiber: 13%

Additionally, it contains traces of Vitamin B5, B6, C, and K. It also contains folate.

Imli in English

Imli (املی) is known as tamarind in English. It is commonly used in cooking especially in Indian and Pakistani cuisine for its distinctive tangy, sweet-sour flavor. Tamarind or imli chutney is also popular and served as a condiment to compliment snacks like samosas and pakoras.

Imli Chutney Recipe

Imli is the principal element of many tasty dishes, such as tamarind rice, lentils, or stir fry. However, the exquisiteness of an imli chutney as a condiment for many Pakistani dishes is unparalleled. Here is the recipe for a delicious imli chutney:

Ingredients

IngredientQuantity
Seedless tamarind (imli)1 Cup
Water2 Cups
Sugar (You can use an alternative to sugar if you have diabetes or weight management issues)1/4 cup
Salt1 tsp
Cumin Powder1 tsp
Dry ginger powder1/2 tsp
Pink salt or black salt1/4 tsp
Chilli Powder1 tsp

Instructions

  1. Boil two cups of water and soak imli in it for two hours.
  2. Mix all the ingredients, including the imli, and blend it until smooth.
  3. Separate the liquid from the pulp using a strainer, and your chutney is ready to be served.

Storage

Store the chutney in a cool, dry place in an air-tight container.

Conclusion

Imli is a household name in Pakistan, and it adds a delicious tangy flavor to Pakistani dishes. It has health benefits as well, making it even more tempting. Ensure that you are cautious of how much imli you’re adding to your daily diet, as it has some side effects.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs) about Imli

1. How many vitamins are there in tamarind (Imli)?

Tamarind (Imli) is rich in eight minerals of category B vitamins. Additionally, it contains Vitamin A, C, E, K, thiamin, folic acid, niacin, and riboflavin.

2. Does tamarind (Imli) benefit sexual health?

Tamarind (Imli) is rich in Vitamin B6, Vitamin C, and Magnesium. It offers health benefits for both males and females. It increases sperm motility in males and fertility in females.

3. Does tamarind (Imli) increase breast size?

According to Ayurveda, tamarind (Imli) aids in increasing the size of the breasts naturally, but this claim isn’t backed by science yet.

4. How does Tamarind (Imli) benefit skin?

The pulp of tamarind (Imli) is a natural scrub to exfoliate and brighten your skin as it contains alpha-hydroxyl acids that are suitable for your skin.

Disclaimer: The contents of this article are intended to raise awareness about common health issues and should not be viewed as sound medical advice for your specific condition. You should always consult with a licensed medical practitioner prior to following any suggestions outlined in this article or adopting any treatment protocol based on the contents of this article.

Ms. Asma Zulfiqar - Author Ms. Asma Zulfiqar is a top nutritionist in Lahore with over 3 years of experience. She is providing her services at Orthopaedic Medical Complex (OMC) and Surgimed Hospital, Lahore. You can book an in-person appointment or an online video consultation with her through oladoc.
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