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Velvet Tamarind: A Nutritious and Medicinal Fruit of West Africa


The velvet tamarind, scientifically known as Dialium guineense, is a tropical, seasonal fruit-bearing tree that is highly revered in West Africa, especially Ghana, for its many health benefits. The tree belongs to the flowering plant family, Fabaceae, and is widely cultivated for its fruits, which are grape-sized and have a sweet edible pulp, and also as a source of timber and fuel. In Ghana, the fruit is commonly referred to as “yooyi.”

The fruit pulp of velvet tamarind is composed of protein (9.4%), carbohydrate (75%), crude fat (5.2%), crude fiber (4.6%), and ash content (2.4%) at 19% moisture content (wb). It is rich in essential vitamins and minerals that play a crucial role in maintaining good health. It is an excellent source of Vitamin A and Vitamin C, which are essential for energy production. The fruit also contains iron and calcium, which help in boosting immunity and maintaining strong bones.

Apart from the fruit, different parts of the velvet tamarind plant have been scientifically proven to offer a wide range of health benefits.

The leaves of the velvet tamarind plant have the ability to increase gastric mucus secretion, making it effective in treating ulcers. The leaves are also highly diuretic, which helps in reducing the risk of hypertension.

The stem of the velvet tamarind plant contains saponin, which acts as a natural cleaning agent for the teeth. It helps to remove plaque from the teeth when used as a chewing stick, promoting better oral hygiene.

The fruit pulp contains abundant Vitamin C, which is essential in fighting against microbial infections. The stem bark of the plant has anti-inflammatory properties and has been shown to reduce inflammation in bronchial tubes due to bronchitis.

The stem bark extract of velvet tamarind has significant analgesic properties and can be used to reduce the pain associated with menstruation.

Piles are swollen veins in the anal canal caused by too much pressure in the pelvic and rectal areas. A study performed on ethanolic leaves extract of velvet tamarind showed it to be beneficial for pile treatment.

The velvet tamarind is not just a seasonal fruit but a plant with numerous health benefits. Its rich nutritional composition and therapeutic properties make it an excellent addition to one’s diet. With its abundance in West Africa, it is an accessible and affordable source of nutrition and medicinal value.

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Wendy Elorm Amankwa

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