Ever heard of tiger nuts? Except that they are not nuts! Tiger nuts are edible tubers of sedge grass, Cyperus esculentus. They are similar in size to chickpeas but with a wrinkly and tiger-striped appearance, thus the name “tiger nuts.” Lets explore Tiger Nut Nutrition and Benefits
They are also known by other names such as yellow nutsedge, chufa, earth almond, and nutgrass.
Tiger nuts come in three main varieties, including brown, black, and yellow.
They were first cultivated in Egypt, then later spread to other parts of the world, especially in Spain where they are used to make horchata, a sweet plant milk beverage made from soaked tiger nuts and white sugar.
Wonder what they taste like? Tiger nuts have a chewy texture with a sweet, nutty flavor comparable to almond and coconut. They can be eaten fresh, boiled, roasted, dried, or juiced.
Although tiger nuts have been treated as weeds in some parts of the world, they are very high in antioxidants and have traditionally been used as oral medication and enemas.
They have also been used as animal feeds, a form of biofuel, as fishing bait, and in anti-aging beauty products.
Tiger Nut Nutrition and Benefits
An ounce or 30 grams of tiger nuts provides approximately;
- Carbohydrates: 9 grams
- Calories: 120
- Fiber: 10 grams
- Protein: 2 grams
- Fat: 1 gram
- Vitamin E: or 278 percent of the daily requirement
- Iron: 10 percent of the daily requirement
- Zinc: 7 percent of the daily requirement
- Magnesium: 7 percent of the daily requirement
- Potassium: 5 percent of the daily requirement
- Vitamin B6: 5 percent of the daily requirements
- Vitamin C: 8 percent of the daily requirement
Health Benefits of Tiger nuts
1. They are rich in antioxidants
Antioxidants are natural compounds in plants that can prevent or slow cell damage caused by free radicals or unstable molecules in the body.
However, tiger nuts are also rich in antinutrients, including oxalates, phytates, tannins, and saponins that may reduce nutrient absorption. Luckily, research shows that germinating or roasting them lowers their antinutrient levels, thus improving their nutrient absorption.
Germinating tiger nuts also improves their antioxidant profile even further.
2. May reduce blood glucose levels
Tiger nuts contain insoluble fiber, which may help regulate your blood sugar by slowing the rate of glucose absorption into the blood, thus keeping it under control.
3. May improve digestive health
Tiger nuts contain resistant starch, a type of fiber that acts as a prebiotic to feed the good gut bacteria. This promotes their function and diversity.
They are also high in insoluble fiber, which passes through your digestive tracts unchanged. This helps add bulk to stool which prevents constipation and diarrhea and reduces your bowel transit time.
Just keep in mind that resistant starch may sometimes disrupt the stomach, causing a temporary upset with symptoms such as gas and bloating. So introduce them gradually as the stomach adapts.
4. May improve heart health
Incorporating tiger nuts into your diet may help improve cardiovascular function and prevent heart disease.
Research shows that tiger nuts are generally high in monounsaturated fats with a profile similar to olive oil.
Monounsaturated fats promote heart health by lowering bad cholesterol, thus reducing your risk of stroke, heart attack, and heart disease.
Monounsaturated fats may further improve general health by aiding weight loss, lowering the risk for cancer, improving insulin sensitivity, and reducing inflammation.
Tiger nuts also contain arginine, a compound that increases nitric oxide production in the body. Nitric oxide is essential for the dilatation and relaxation of blood vessels, thus causing your blood pressure to fall.
5. May boost the immune system
Tiger nuts may boost your immune function through their ability to fight infections, especially bacterial infections, including E.coli and salmonella.
Tiger nut extract may also help fight against antibiotic-resistant bacteria, according to researchers.
Incorporating these nuts into your diet is one way to assist your immune system fight against harmful disease-causing bacteria.
6. It may act as an aphrodisiac
An aphrodisiac is a drug or food that stimulates sexual desires, and tiger nuts have been used in Ayurvedic medicine for the same purpose.
In some parts of Africa, tiger nuts have been used in traditional medicine in the treatment of erectile dysfunction, to boost libido, and increase sperm count.
Several lab studies have been done to confirm these claims, and in one of them, high consumption of tiger nuts for a month was shown to boost sexual activity and testosterone levels.
Risks and Side Effects
A few cases of tiger nut allergies have been reported. However, allergies are infrequent. But in case you experience any reactions, consult your doctor immediately.
How to Add Tiger Nuts to Your Diet
Tiger nuts are versatile in their uses and come in different forms such as flour, milk, dried, roasted, and raw.
- You can enjoy peeled tiger nuts as a quick snack
- Use tiger nut milk as a dairy milk substitute
- Use the flour in baking
- Prepare horchata
- Include them in your breakfast cereal, oatmeal, or porridge
- Combine other ingredients such as tree nuts and dry fruit to create a trail mix
- As a base for nut butter
- Include soaked tiger nuts in smoothies
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Unlike what the name suggests, tiger nuts are not true nuts but tubers with a shape and taste similar to nuts.
They are rich in various nutrients such as fiber, antioxidants, vitamin E, magnesium, iron, potassium, magnesium, zinc, and vitamin C.
However, tiger nuts also contain antinutrient compounds that may inhibit the absorption of these nutrients. So it’s always advisable to roast or germinate them by soaking them before eating.
Regular consumption of tiger nuts may help reduced glucose levels, improve heart health, boost the immune system, improve digestion, and increase sex drive.
Tiger nuts are available in different forms such as raw, dried, roasted, and flour. You can easily incorporate these into different recipes of your choice.
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