Pregnancy brings about a variety of changes in your body, habits, and behavior with every passing week. Some of these changes may also affect your taste buds which results in you picking up new, even strange food tastes.1 This change in tastebuds is called dysgeusia.
Plenty of women start developing unusual cravings for sour food like lemon, pickles, and grapefruit when they’re pregnant, especially in their first trimester.2 There is something very addictive about how it all starts – first with a date or molasses-like sweetness, and then gradually giving way to a tartness that’s so strong, you can almost feel it pinching the sides of your tongue to release more saliva just to cope with the taste. For this very reason, the tamarind finds its way to the top of the list of food cravings during pregnancy.
Nutritional Value – Tamarind was originally cultivated in tropical Africa, and is now widely used in various condiments in Mexican and South Asian cuisine. The fruit is rich in Sodium, Potassium, Calcium, Phosphorus, and Iron.3 Not only does it have a high content of fiber, vitamin C, and antioxidants, it is also a great source of energy.
It Is Safe To Eat Tamarind During Pregnancy
Tamarind is a rich source of a wide variety of nutrients that are essential for the health of your body and your unborn baby. Sour fruits like tamarind, orange, lemon, grapefruit, and green mangoes, are rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants which are very beneficial for the growth and development of your unborn child’s body. Though there are many varieties of tamarind, most women tend to lean towards the sweeter kind otherwise called sweet tamarind.
It is however, important to remember that every food must be consumed in moderation – this is the key to a healthy body. It is also very important to consult your doctor and your gynecologist before introducing new foods to your diet.
Benefits Of Eating Tamarind During Pregnancy
Sweet tamarind can easily earn it a place in the diet plan of most pregnant women because of the wide variety of nutritional benefits it has to offer.
1. Foetal Development
Tamarind is a good source of niacin (nicotinamide) or vitamin B3. 4 This is good for the development of the nerves, brain, digestive system, and mucous membranes in your unborn child.5
Note: If you’re already on vitamin B3 supplements, do consult with your doctor before consuming niacin-rich foods as too much of it may have an adverse effect on the health of your baby.
2. Prevents Constipation And Weight Gain
Tamarind is a good source of dietary fiber 6 A diet that’s rich in fiber is one of the best ways to prevent constipation, which is a common pregnancy complaint. Eating plenty of fiber is also beneficial in preventing pregnant women from putting on too much weight. Fiber is filling, which can help prevent eating more than required which is important especially during pregnancy.
3. Morning Sickness Treatment
Tamarind has long been a popular cure for morning sickness. Tamarind is known to have a good laxative effect on the stomach because of its high content of malic acid, tartaric acid, and potassium.7 This helps ease vomiting and nausea that most pregnant women experience during their first trimester.
4. Reduces Risk Of Premature Birth
During pregnancy, blood tends to expand in volume. Tamarind is a rich source of iron, a mineral that helps to support the increasing volume of blood. Consuming a good amount of iron during pregnancy also decreases the chances of a premature birth, and will also bring down the chances of low birth weight in your baby.8 9
5. Reduces Risk Of Gestational Diabetes
In many women, pregnancy may cause increased or abnormal insulin resistance and glucose intolerance. This brings about a high risk of gestational diabetes, which may, in turn, increase the risk of type II diabetes and metabolic abnormalities in the future for both the mother and the baby. Consuming tamarind is known to help control sugar levels in the body, and can hence, help in keeping gestational diabetes at bay.10
6. Reduces Chances Of High Blood Pressure
The high potassium content in tamarind is beneficial in lowering blood pressure levels in pregnant women, who particularly suffer from high blood pressure.11
7. Boosts Immunity And May Help Prevent Cancer
Tamarind contains about 11.4300mg of vitamin C per 100g, which makes it a rich source of this essential vitamin. 12 Eating tamarind, therefore, helps boost immunity in women during pregnancy. It also helps improving respiration and brings a healthy glow to the skin.
Vitamin C has antioxidant properties which helps fight harmful free radicals, which if allowed to accumulate in the body, may cause cancer in both the mother and the baby.
Including Tamarind In a Healthy Pregnancy Diet
As with all other foods or fruit, tamarind must be consumed in moderation. While tamarind has a wide variety of benefits to offer, it is still important to remember that it is a highly acidic fruit with a fairly large amount of niacin and vitamin C. Eating too much of this fruit could lead to a variety of complications such as:
- Niacin Flush – Tamarind is a rich source of niacin, and eating too much of it could result in “niacin flush” – an uncomfortable tingling, burning, sensation in the face and chest, and flushed, red skin. Too much niacin could also lead to liver damage and stomach ulcers.13
- Niacin In Breast Milk – It is believed that ingesting niacin during pregnancy, may result in the body excreting the compound into breast milk in small amounts. Although there are no studies to prove this, doctors and manufacturers of niacin supplements advise against too much niacin intake during pregnancy due to its potential for serious adverse reactions in newly born infants. This is why it is best to avoid eating tamarind in excess when pregnant, as it has a fairly high niacin content.
- Hypoglycemia – Eating tamarind in excess may result in a serious fall in your blood sugar levels, resulting in hypoglycemia i.e. glucose deficiency in your body. This is particularly dangerous for diabetics who are already taking drugs for lowering their blood sugar levels.
- Acid Reflux – Tamarind, being an acidic fruit can induce an increase in acid levels in your gastrointestinal tract, especially in your stomach. If you already suffer from gastroesophageal reflux disease (GORD), it is advisable to not eat tamarind, or it will give you severe acidity.
- Risk Of Preterm Birth – Too much vitamin C during pregnancy may cause a premature rupture of membranes, thus increasing the risk of preterm birth.14
- May Damage Your Tooth Enamel – Given the acidic nature of tamarind, there is a high chance that eating too much of this fruit will damage your teeth. The acid is very likely to spoil the enamel of your teeth. If you find your teeth feeling abnormally sensitive, it’s probably a sign that you’re eating more tamarind than you ought to.
It is always a good practice to consult your doctor before introducing new foods in your pregnancy diet. In the case of consuming tamarind, your doctor will be able to give you insight into how much of it you can take, especially if you’re already taking vitamin C or vitamin B3 (niacin) supplements.
Once your doctor gives you the go-ahead, you can look for tamarind in specialty Indian, Mexican or Asian markets. Although this fruit is a little difficult to find in its freshest form in most supermarkets, you may spot some large grocery stores stocking up on bottled tamarind or frozen tamarind concentrate.
Sucking on fresh tamarind is a joyful experience by itself, but you may also use the fruit to flavor homemade juices, sorbets as well as salad dressings.
References [ + ]
|1.||↑||Faas, Marijke M., Barbro N. Melgert, and Paul de Vos. “A brief review on how pregnancy and sex hormones interfere with taste and food intake.” Chemosensory perception 3, no. 1 (2010): 51-56.|
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|5.||↑||Roles Of Vitamin B In Pregnancy. American Pregnancy Association.|
|6.||↑||Chitwarin, Tawatchai, Suphichaya Chanthachum, and Pitaya Adulyatham. “Nutritional Composition in Tamarind Seed During Germination.” Asian Journal of Food and Agro-Industry 4, no. 03 (2011): 167-172.|
|8.||↑||Anemia and Pregnancy. American Society of Hematology.|
|9.||↑||Long, Hui, Jing-Mei Yi, Pei-Li Hu, Zhi-Bin Li, Wei-Ya Qiu, Fang Wang, and Sing Zhu. “Benefits of iron supplementation for low birth weight infants: a systematic review.” BMC pediatrics 12, no. 1 (2012): 99.|
|10.||↑||Sandesh, P., V. Velu, and R. P. Singh. “Antioxidant activities of tamarind (Tamarindus Indica) seed coat extracts using in vitro and in vivo models.” Journal of food science and technology 51, no. 9 (2014): 1965-1973.|
|11.||↑||Key minerals to help control blood pressure. Harvard Medical School.|
|12.||↑||Danbature, Wilson Lamayi, Fai Fredrick Yirankinyuki, Buhari Magaji, and Zainab Ibrahim. “Comparative Determination of Vitamin C and Iron in Ten (10) Locally Consumed Fruits in Gombe State, Nigeria.”|
|13.||↑||Kamanna, V. S., S. H. Ganji, and M. L. Kashyap. “The mechanism and mitigation of niacin‐induced flushing.” International journal of clinical practice 63, no. 9 (2009): 1369-1377.|
|14.||↑||Siega-Riz, Anna Maria, Joanne HE Promislow, David A. Savitz, John M. Thorp, and Thad McDonald. “Vitamin C intake and the risk of preterm delivery.” American journal of obstetrics and gynecology 189, no. 2 (2003): 519-525.|