Tamarind has been in use for centuries and we have almost perfected using it and we will never experience any side effects if we continue using it like how our elders did. Being a South Indian, I use tamarind every single day, we use it in gravies, rasam (soup), pachadis and pickles.
We also make tamarind juice and a tamarind sweet which taste wonderful but we make it a point to have it in moderation so we have never experienced any side effects. We also consume tamarind seeds occasionally (one or two roasted seeds) and rarely consume the leaves, we mainly use the leaves in remedies.
Tamarind has low toxicity and even large doses does not cause any death but there will be other side effects. In a study, a group of rats were divided into 3 groups of 20 each. Two groups were carboxymethylcellulose sodium and the third group was given tamarind pulp extract at increasing doses of 75, 200 and 1000mg per kg for 6 months and after 6 months there was no significant changes in the body in the three groups which proves it’s low toxicity.
Tamarind Fruit Side Effects:
Though tamarind fruit is sweet and sour and is good to suck on, elders will always scold us for doing it. That is because consuming too much of tamarind causes acidity and stomach burn. Consuming tamarind in our traditional diet like how our elders did will not cause any problems but if you are consuming large doses of tamarind at a time, it will cause acidity.
Taking large doses of tamarind at a time also might interfere with certain medications and will have an impact on blood sugar levels. Since tamarind fruit is highly acidic, sucking on the fruit often will affect our tooth enamel too. Pregnant women can safely consume tamarind but in moderation. It is always best to use tamarind in moderation (our elders always insisted on this) and in my opinion never in large doses.
Tamarind Seeds Side Effects
Internally consuming large quantities of tamarind seeds has been linked to oral sub mucous fibrosis which causes abnormal accumulation of collagen leading to restricted mouth opening. Usually oral sub mucous fibrosis is associated with betel nut chewing but a 12 year old boy who was chewing 15 to 20 raw and roasted tamarind seeds 2 to 3 times daily for years developed oral sub mucous fibrosis.
Tamarind seeds have good nutritional qualities but it also contains anti nutritional compounds especially the seed coat contains large amounts of anti nutrients which makes it unsuitable of consumption so we always remove the seed coat before consuming and we always roast the seed well.
Since the seeds are very very hard, it will take a long time to chew on one seed and we can barely make it to two seeds, personally I have never seen anyone experience any side effects consuming tamarind seeds. The child consuming 15 to 20 seeds (both raw and roasted) 3 times a day really shocked me! This proves that it is very important to get to know about both the benefits and side effects of an ingredient and educate our children about them too.
Tips To Prevent Tamarind Side Effects:
- We can reduce the amount or tamarind in gravies by including tomatoes for sourness.
- Try not to have tamarind based products in empty stomach, it can cause stomach irritation especially for people with irritable bowel syndrome.
- Tamarind can be used externally in face packs without any side effects too, it makes our skin glow.
- If you have stomach ulcer, try to reduce the amount of tamarind to a bare minimum.