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 And tamarind finds itself at the top of the list of food cravings during pregnancy. But not every craving is healthy. Is it safe to eat tamarind during pregnancy? Yes, and it is beneficial too, unless you eat too much of it or are on vitamin B3 or C pills.
Nutritional Value Of Tamarind
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 potassium, calcium, magnesium, 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, with 100 g giving 239 Calories.
It Is Safe To Eat Tamarind During Pregnancy
Tamarind is a rich source of a wide variety of nutrients that are essential for your and your unborn baby’s health. Sour fruits like tamarind, orange, lemon, grapefruit, and green mangoes, are rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants which are beneficial for the growth and development of your unborn child’s body. Though there are many varieties of tamarind, most women tend to lean toward the sweeter kind aptly 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.
7 Benefits Of Eating Tamarind During Pregnancy
Sweet tamarind can easily earn a place in the diet plan of most pregnant women because of the wide variety of nutritional benefits it has to offer.
1. Helps In Fetal Development
Tamarind is a good source of niacin (nicotinamide) or vitamin B3,4 with 1.9 mg niacin per 100 g. This meets about 10% of the daily requirement for a pregnant woman and 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. As fiber is filling, it can help check eating more than required, which is important especially during pregnancy.
3. Treats Morning Sickness
Most women undergo morning sickness or bouts of vomiting and nausea in their first trimesters. While it is exhausting, morning sickness often indicates a healthy pregnancy. One of the long-standing natural remedies for morning sickness is tamarind. It 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. Lowers Risk Of Premature Birth
During pregnancy, blood tends to expand in volume. Tamarind is a rich source of iron, a mineral that helps support the increasing volume of blood. Consuming a good amount of iron during pregnancy decreases the chances of a premature birth and brings 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 2 diabetes and metabolic abnormalities in the future for both the mother and the baby. Consuming tamarind can help control sugar levels in the body and keep 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 11.43 mg of vitamin C per 100 g, which makes it a good source of this essential vitamin.12 Eating tamarind, therefore, helps boost immunity in women during pregnancy. It also helps improve respiration and brings a healthy glow to the skin.
Vitamin C has antioxidant properties and 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 and 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 newborns. This is why it is best to avoid eating tamarind in excess when pregnant, as it has a fairly high niacin content.
- Low Blood Glucose: Eating tamarind in excess may result in a serious fall in your blood sugar levels, resulting in hypoglycemia. 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 (GERD), it is advisable to not eat tamarind. It can 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 in itself, but you may also use the fruit to flavor homemade juices and sorbets as well as salad dressings.
|↑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.|
|↑2||Orloff, Natalia C., and Julia M. Hormes. “Pickles and ice cream! Food cravings in pregnancy: hypotheses, preliminary evidence, and directions for future research.” Food Cravings (2015): 66.|
|↑3||Sulieman, Abdel Moneim E., Salwa M. Alawad, Magdi A. Osman, and Elnour A. Abdelmageed. “Physicochemical characteristics of local varieties of tamarind (Tamarindus indica L), Sudan.” International Journal of Plant Research 5, no. 1 (2015): 13-18.|
|↑4, ↑7||Kuru, Pinar. “Tamarindus indica and its health related effects.” Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Biomedicine 4, no. 9 (2014): 676-681.|
|↑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.|