The Dialium guineense Wild commonly known as the black velvet tamarind (or Awin or Tsamiyar kurm or Nkwaa) and a great source of nutrients for humans might be going extinct in the eastern part of Nigeria, says a new study on endangered fruit and seed species in eastern Nigeria.
The study which looked into why the fruits are dwindling in number resolved that many of the species are not readily planted and are therefore in danger of extinction. Changes in the environment caused largely by human population pressure further predispose the protected and wild remnant species to total extinction, leading to loss of genetic resources, which they represent. It advised that in addition to the need for survey, categorization and documentation of the most socio-economically important species, there was an urgent need for the establishment of ex situ (off-site) conservation centres for these species, particularly in relevant educational and research institutions.
The black velvet tamarind contains a set of selected inorganic ions and vitamin C with a sweet tangy taste which no doubts can be addictive, thus endearing one to it every day. Below are some of its other nutritious value:
1. Its sticky pulp is a rich source of non-starch polysaccharides (NSP) or dietary-fiber such as gums, hemicelluloses, mucilage, pectin and tannins. 100 g of fruit pulp provides 5.1 or over 13% of dietary fiber. NSP or dietary fiber in the food increases its bulk and augments bowel movements thereby help prevent constipation. The fiber also binds to toxins in the food thereby help protect the colon mucus membrane from cancer-causing chemicals.
2. It is rich in tartaric acid. Tartaric acid is a powerful anti-oxidant, thereby protecting the human body from harmful free radicals.
3. This black velvet tamarind fruit contains many volatile phytochemicals such as limonene, geraniol, safrole, cinnamic acid, methyl salicylate, pyrazine and alkyl¬thiazoles. Together these compounds account for the medicinal properties of tamarind.
4. This 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 and as a co-factor for cytochrome oxidases enzymes.
5. It is also rich in many vital vitamins, including thiamin (36% of daily required levels), vitamin-A, folic acid, riboflavin, niacin, and vitamin-C. Much of these vitamins plays antioxidant as well as co-factor functions for enzyme metabolism inside the body.