Health Benefits Of The Velvet Tamarind

Ok... the 'velvet tamarind' was just for the headline. in Yoruba, it is called 'Awin', 'Icheku' in Igbo, and 'Tsamiyar Kurm' in Hausa

It is no longer a common fruit, those of the 90's and earlier would understand what I mean. 

This tiny fruit has an orange coloured pulp which have a sweet and sour taste and a dry powdery texture, it is a great source of nutrients for human food and animal feeds. It is a very popular fruit snack, particularly among children, who peel the black velvet case to reveal an orange pulp which is eaten raw.

Velvet tamarind is the fruit of a native West African tree (dialium guineense) which have much more significant benefits than the pleasure derived in playfully removing it from its shell.

This beautiful fruit can also be found in some West African countries such as Ghana where it is known as Yoyi, Sierra Leone and Senegal. Also scientifically called Dialium guineense.

Awin has a hard, flat, round, brown seed, which somewhat resembles a watermelon seed, though some have two seeds. The seeds are shiny, coated with a thin layer of starch.

  • Awin is a good source of minerals like copper, potassium, calcium, iron, selenium, zinc and magnesium. Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids that helps control heart rate and blood pressure, iron is essential for red blood cell production and as a co-factor for cytochrome oxidises enzymes.
  •  Icheku is rich in tartaric acid. Tartaric acid is a powerful anti-oxidant, thereby protecting the human body from harmful free radicals.
  • It is also rich in many vital vitamins, including thiamin (36% of daily required levels), vitamin-A, folic acid, riboflavin, niacin, and vitamin C. Much of these vitamins plays antioxidant as well as co-factor functions for enzyme metabolism inside the body.

Awin‘s sticky pulp is a rich source of non-starch polysaccharides (NSP) or dietary-fiber such as gums, hemicelluloses, mucilage, pectin and tannins. 100g of fruit pulp provides 5.1 or over 13% of dietary fiber. NSP or dietary fiber in the food increases its bulk and augments bowel movements thereby help prevent constipation. The fiber also binds to toxins in the food thereby helping to protect the colon mucus membrane from cancer-causing chemicals.

This Tsamiyar kurm fruit contains many volatile phytochemicals such as limonene, geraniol, safrole, cinnamic acid, methyl salicylate, pyrazine and alkyl-thiazoles. Together these compounds account for the medicinal properties of tamarind.

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