This tiny fruit has an orange coloured pulp which has 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
Popularly known as Awin, by the Yoruba people, Icheku by the Igbo, and Tsamiyar kurm or Tsamiyar Biri by the Hausas in Nigeria, African 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 fruit can also be found in some West African countries such as Ghana, where it is known as Yoyi, Sierra Leone and Senegal. African velvet tamarind is a leguminous plant, but compared to Tamarind, it is sweeter, drier, and powder-like and the shell is thicker.
Each fruit typically has one 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. The fruit 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. Black Velvet Tamarind is rich in tartaric acid. Tartaric acid is a powerful anti-oxidant, that protects the human body from harmful free radicals.
It is also rich in many vital vitamins, including thiamine (36% of daily required levels), vitamin-A, folic acid, riboflavin, niacin, and vitamin C. Much of these vitamins play antioxidant as well as co-factor functions for enzyme metabolism inside the body.
According to research, below are some of the sicknesses that this small but mighty fruit can cure.
Malaria: According to research, the leaf extract inhibits the growth of plasmodium falciparum which causes malaria therefore, taking a decoction can cure malaria.
Treats Ulcer and Prevents Hypertension: The leaf extract of velvet tamarind has the ability to increase gastric mucus secretion. Therefore, a decoction of the leave can be a remedy for gastric ulcer. The leaves are also highly diuretic, -promote the production of urine, making it easier for the heart to pump blood hence, reducing the risk of hypertension.
Anti-inflammatory and Anti-microbial Properties: The fruit pulp contains abundant vitamin C which fights against microbial infections. The stem bark has the ability to reduce inflammation in bronchial tubes that arises due to bronchitis.
Improves Oral hygiene and cures Tooth ache: The stem used as chewing stick (indigenous tooth brush) contains saponin which adds cleaning effect to the teeth and at the same time removes plaques on the teeth of users.
Reliefs Menstrual Cramp and stops Diarrhoea: The stem bark extract has significant analgesic property hence, can be used to reduce menstrual pain. You can take it along with papaya leaf, salt and water to work effectively. It can also stop diarrhoea.
Jaundice and Diabetes Management: A decoction of velvet tamarind leaf is used in preparing medicinal solution for curing jaundice. It also lowers blood sugar and increases insulin sensitivity hence, can be used to treat diabetes.
Velvet Tamarind increases the Antioxidant Capacity of the body: Oxidative damage which involves free radicals – highly reactive molecules with unpaired electrons, is believed to be one of the mechanisms behind ageing and many diseases. The abundance of antioxidants in the leaves helps protect the human body from damage caused by these free radicals.
Improves lactation and checks private part infections: A review of several studies has concluded that chewing the fruit pulp increase secretion of milk as well as check infections.
Treats Scurvy and Wounds: The fruit pulp has high ascorbic acid content which is an anti-scurvy vitamin, hence used as food supplement. Tender leaves of velvet tamarind, when squeezed and applied on wounds, stimulates the growth of healthy skin and protects the wounds against germs and moisture.
When the season for it comes and you happen to see it around you, please buy and also ask the seller for the leaves. As for those that don’t like taking it, probably because of its sour taste, this article will make you have a rethink. Get the African Velvet Tamarind and you will be surprised that some diseases that you have been treating have suddenly disappeared.
By: Pupwaya Timothy Dibal