I remembered when I was young and I used to visit my grandma in the village, upon our arrival, she would give us a fruit usually in branches. The fruit is so small that hundreds of it could be in a bunch. The fruit looks like an orange pulp similar to the color of Vitamin C tablet and the pulp is covered with a black shell. My siblings and I will crack the shell open effortlessly with our teeth to bring out the small orange-like pulp which we lick. I usually loved it because it was so sweet and I remembered that I once finish licking a whole bunch in a short while.
I never know the name of the fruit but as a child, my siblings and I called it “lickie lickie”, my grandmother will call it “Awin” which is the Yoruba nomenclature. I once asked my aunt who also lived in the village with my grandma what the English name was and she confidently told me the English name is called “Indigenous Vitamin C .” I used to be so happy to have learned the English name of the mysterious fruit that I proudly told my friends at school because a number of them were also familiar with it.
One day, when I was 15 and I was in SS1, my English teacher, let me call him Mr. X, brought the fruit to class and asked if anyone in the class knows the English name. I looked around and noticed that none of my classmates raised their hands, so I proudly raised mine and when I was called upon, I confidently told him it is called “Indigenous Vitamin C” in English. I can never forget the look he gave me after I said that. He was amazed and at the same time confused and he asked me if I was being serious. I responded in the affirmative because that was the name my aunt told me it is called since I was a child.
He said I was wrong that the correct name is “Black Velvet Tamarind.” My classmate laughed at me after he corrected me because I was the “Ms. Know it all” in the class. That incident was embarrassing. Since I learned the name of the Vitamin C-like fruit with a black shell is called black velvet tamarind, I never make the mistake to call it indigenous Vitamin C anymore to avoid embarrassment.
In this article, I will be sharing with you some things you ought to know about the mysterious fruit with several names, Black Velvet Tamarind.
The Black Velvet Tamarind, which is also known as African Velvet Tamarind, is an indigenous fruit and it is popular in Nigeria, although not as popular as orange, bananas, and other common fruits. It is called “Icheku” in the Igbo language, “Awin” in Yoruba, and “Tsamiyar Kurm” in the Hausa language. It is also grown in other parts of African such as Sierra-Leone, Senegal, and Ghana where it is popularly called “Yooyi.”
Also, the black velvet tamarind is packed with a lot of nutrients which is beneficial to the human body, it is very healthy and has been anecdotally reported to cure many common diseases. The fruit contains Vitamin C which helps fight against microbial infections and prop up the immune system. It has been reported to be useful in curing malaria and in the treatment of gastric ulcers. The compounds in the black velvet tamarind act as a cure for toothache. It contains a natural analgesic that helps relieve menstrual cramps and it can also be used to treat generative diseases such as diabetes. The consumption of the fruit helps to lower blood sugar levels and increase insulin sensitivity.
Among the nutritious values of black velvet, tamarind is that it acts as an antioxidant to fight against free radicals which can help to prevent aging and protect one from many other diseases. The consumption of the fruit is also helpful in boosting the immune system of the body. Black velvet tamarind helps breastfeeding mothers improve lactation and can be used to treat wounds because it contains ascorbic acid which is beneficial to the human body. It also helps to nourish the skin, lower the cholesterol level in the body and help to maintain good digestion.
Furthermore, Black velvet tamarind contains vitamin A, vitamin C, thiamin, folic acid, and niacin which help the function for enzyme metabolism of the human body. It can be used as an ingredient for eye drops which are used to cure dry eyes. The iron contained in the black velvet tamarind can boost red blood cells and prevents anemia. It can also be used to treat respiratory diseases such as bronchitis. It helps to maintain a healthy kidney, lower body temperature, and used as a treatment for diarrhea.
Black velvet tamarind contains strong antimicrobial that can help to fight against harmful microorganisms in the body. It can also help reduce micronutrient deficiencies. Diabetes patients are advised not to consume a lot of it though because it reduces the blood sugar level in the body and consequently interferes in their effort to regulate the blood sugar level in their body. Overconsumption of it can therefore lead to abnormally low blood sugar levels.
On a final note
The consumption of the fruits of black velvet tamarind has many nutritional and medicinal benefits. Many of the reported benefits remain anecdotal at large because they are yet to be scientifically proven. However, a host of the benefits were logically deduced from the proximate and nutritional contents of the fruit. Other organs/tissues of the plant have various medicinal benefits many of which have been proven. However, that would be likely discussed in my future post/posts