Symptoms, what to avoid and more
Tamarind is a pod-shaped fruit that contains seeds and edible pulp. The pulp takes on a sweet, tart flavor as the pods ripen. Tamarind is often used to enhance the flavor of sweet and savory cuisines around the world.
Because it is part of the legume family, which consists of nuts, seeds, and beans, people with a legume allergy may have an increased risk of being allergic to tamarind.
This article will discuss the symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment of a tamarind allergy.
What is Tamarind?
Tamarind pods come from the tamarind tree, which is native to tropical Africa. It also grows in other tropical regions, including India and Australia.
In appearance, the tamarind resembles a peanut, its distant relative. The inside of the tamarind pod contains large seeds covered in a dark, sticky pulp. It has a date-like texture and a sweet and sour flavor.
In the United States, it is commonly found in pad Thai and Worcestershire sauce. Traditionally, tamarind was used to treat:
Tamarind Nutritional Benefits
Tamarind is packed with nutrients that can boost your health. It contains micronutrients called polyphenols that may help protect against heart disease by reducing inflammation in your body. It is also reasonably high in B vitamins, vitamin C and magnesium.
If you are allergic to tamarind, symptoms will appear soon after consuming tamarind or foods containing it. Reactions can range from mild to severe.
Possible symptoms include:
- stomach cramps or diarrhea
- Shortness of breath
- To cough
- facial swelling
- Urticaria (urticaria)
In severe cases, a person can suffer from anaphylaxis, a life-threatening condition that can cause difficulty breathing and send the body into shock. Anaphylaxis requires immediate medical attention.
A diagnosis of tamarind allergy often begins with a visit to an allergist, a specialist trained in testing and diagnosing food allergies.
To make a diagnosis, your allergist will ask you detailed questions about your symptoms and medical history. They may also request a skin test or blood test.
You may also be asked to perform an oral food challenge to confirm your test results.
The best way to treat a tamarind allergy is to avoid foods that contain tamarind.
Because tamarind is a common ingredient in many foods, it’s important to carry an epinephrine auto-injector (EpiPen). This is especially true if you have had a severe allergic reaction.
Epinephrine should be used immediately if you experience the following symptoms:
- Shortness of breath
- Tightness in the throat
- Difficulty swallowing
- A combination of several symptoms from different areas of the body (e.g. rash or hives associated with nausea or diarrhea)
What to avoid
If you are allergic to tamarind, you may react to other foods in the legume family. However, cross-reactivity between legumes is relatively rare.
What is cross-reactivity in food allergies?
Cross-reactivity in food allergies occurs when the proteins in one food are similar to those in another.
The best way to find out if you have an allergy to another legume is to take an oral food challenge under the guidance of a board-certified allergist. Additionally, you’ll want to know how to read ingredient labels to make sure you don’t come in contact with the allergen.
Unfortunately, because it is not one of the most common food allergens, tamarind is not protected by labeling laws. This means that the food label does not have to warn that it is present. However, it must still be on the ingredient list.
Tamarind is often found in:
- Worcestershire sauce
- pad thai
- Other Asian dishes
- Mexican dishes
- Caribbean dishes
When to See a Health Care Provider
If you experience unpleasant symptoms immediately after consuming tamarind, it is important to consult your health care provider. A healthcare professional can perform appropriate tests or refer you to an allergist who can properly diagnose your condition.
Tamarind is a legume that can cause an allergic reaction in some people. Although it is rare, it is possible. You may have a tamarind allergy if you experience abdominal pain, difficulty breathing, wheezing, or a hives rash soon after consuming tamarind.
Although rare, if you are allergic to tamarind, you may also react to eating other legumes, such as other nuts, beans, and seeds. Because allergic reactions can be life-threatening, you should consult your healthcare provider if you think you may be allergic to tamarind.
A word from Verywell
A tamarind allergy can be frustrating, especially if you love Indian, Mexican, or Thai food. The best way to avoid unpleasant symptoms or a potentially serious reaction is to eliminate tamarind from your diet. The good news is that you can substitute tamarind for other ingredients in many dishes and still be able to enjoy your favorite dishes.
Frequently Asked Questions
How common is a tamarind allergy?
A tamarind allergy is very rare. The most common allergenic foods belonging to the legume family are chickpeas, lentils, lupine, peanuts, peas and soybeans.
What are the side effects of consuming tamarind?
People sensitive to tamarind may develop symptoms such as shortness of breath, hives, abdominal discomfort, or dizziness after eating it.
What does tamarind taste like?
Tamarind has a bold flavor. Depending on its ripeness, the taste of tamarind can range from sweet and sour to sour and tart.
Is tamarind part of the legume family?
Yes, tamarind is part of the legume family, which contains nuts, beans, and seeds.