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.” Let’s explore Tiger Nut Nutrition and its Health Benefits
What are Tiger Nuts
Also known as yellow nutsedge, chufa, earth almond, and nutgrass, tiger nuts come in three main varieties, 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
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 which 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 are a relatively low-carb food, meaning they’re great for people with diabetes who struggle to keep their blood sugar under control. They contain significant amounts of fiber, which slows down digestion and stabilizes blood sugar levels.
On top of that, tiger nuts have been shown to increase insulin sensitivity by nearly 40 percent, thus reducing your risk for type 2 diabetes. They specifically contain arginine, an amino acid that increases insulin sensitivity and production, both of which are essential in controlling blood glucose levels. If you suffer from diabetes or prediabetes, be sure to include these nuts in your diet on a regular basis.
3. May improve digestive health
These nuts can help restore balance to your digestive system and eliminate issues like constipation, diarrhea, acid reflux, and indigestion. They are a rich source of fiber that prevents constipation while speeding up digestion and nutrient absorption.
Tiger nuts contain resistant starch, a type of fiber that acts as a prebiotic to feed 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.
Additionally, these nuts are rich in soluble fiber which may help reduce cholesterol levels and prevent heart disease.
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.
7. Lowers risk of cancer
Studies show that tiger nuts help prevent cancer. This is because they contain antioxidants and phenolic compounds, which suppress tumor growth. Antioxidants are substances found in foods that can help fight free radicals. Free radicals can create oxidative stress on cells, and at high levels, they can cause damage to DNA. This may increase your risk for some types of cancer.
Luckily, antioxidant-rich foods like tiger nuts may protect against these effects by working to stop or prevent cell damage from occurring due to free radicals. In fact, it’s believed that tiger nuts can lower your risk of liver, colon, lung, and prostate cancers by at least 20%. However, more human studies are needed to further confirm these benefits.
Preliminary studies have also shown that tiger nuts contain high levels of a plant chemical called saponin, which may help prevent tumors by blocking growth and replication. Additionally, these nuts contain plenty of fiber, which lowers your risk for cancer due to its ability to eliminate carcinogens from your system.
8. Promotes bone health
Diets that are rich in calcium are associated with stronger bones. A good way to increase your calcium intake is by consuming tiger nuts, as they contain an impressive 80% of your daily recommended value of calcium.
Calcium is essential for bone health and helps prevent osteoporosis, a condition where bones become weak and brittle over time. This can be especially important for women, who have a higher risk of developing osteoporosis than men do.
In addition to promoting bone health, calcium also plays a role in blood clotting and muscle contraction; it’s crucial for proper nerve function and heart rate regulation; it also helps promote cell growth and maintenance throughout your body. When you consume foods high in calcium, like tiger nuts, you help ensure your body has enough calcium to maintain these processes.
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 Eat Tiger Nuts
Tiger nuts are versatile in their uses and come in different forms such as flour, milk, dried, roasted, and raw.
- Enjoy them roasted as a snack
The traditional way of preparing tiger nuts included roasting. Not only is roasting a simple way to eat your tiger nuts, but it brings out their best flavor and makes them easy to digest.
To do so, preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Spread tiger nuts on a baking sheet and roast them for approximately 20 minutes, or until golden brown. You can then eat them plain or with a little salt and pepper or enjoy them with other roasted foods such as Brussels sprouts, carrots, and sweet potatoes for maximum variety.
- Add to salads
Adding tiger nuts to a salad is a great way to help increase your daily fiber intake. Toss them in with any combination of leafy greens, vegetables, and fruits. Make sure you add a light vinaigrette dressing, and you’ll be enjoying a healthy, fiber-rich meal that doesn’t feel heavy. You can also use tiger nuts as a substitute for croutons on top of salads.
- Add them to soups
There are plenty of ways to integrate tiger nuts into your diet, but perhaps one of the easiest ways is by cooking them into soups. Simply boil or sauté your soup and add in some ground tiger nuts. You can also add some herbs and spices such as paprika, pepper, or nutmeg for added flavor. With their creamy texture, buttery taste, and mellow flavor, you might never go back!
- Include soaked tiger nuts in smoothies
Smoothies are easy, healthy breakfast options. Blend them with tiger nuts for a healthy boost in protein and essential fats. Add 1-2 tablespoons of tiger nuts, and then fill your blender with fresh fruit and leafy greens, like strawberries, spinach, or kale. You can also add coconut water for extra hydration. Smoothies are versatile, so feel free to experiment with new combinations. Don’t have time in the morning?
- Use Them In Pastries
Tiger nuts have a nutty flavor that can blend well with pastries, such as pie crusts. You can also grind tiger nuts into a fine flour and use it to bake bread. We love tiger nuts because they’re high in protein but low in fat, which is great for those trying to lose weight or cut back on red meat. They’re also high in fiber and low in cholesterol. No matter how you use them, tiger nuts are delicious!
- Add in your cereal
If you’re looking for something more filling, try making a tiger nut cereal by tossing some into your favorite cereal or oatmeal recipe. You might find it gives it an interesting texture that makes eating breakfast just a little bit more fun!
- Make a trail mix
Why not add these crunchy, savory nuts to your favorite trail mix? That way, you’ll be able to reap tiger nut’s benefits no matter where you are! Need inspiration for a tiger nut trail mix recipe? Try mixing them with dried cranberries, pumpkin seeds, and dark chocolate chips. For some added flavor, include some sesame seeds or cayenne pepper.
- As a base for nut butter
Tiger nuts have a thick, creamy texture similar to peanut butter. Use them as a base for your favorite nut butter. Grind up some almonds and mix them with tiger nuts. You can add honey and cinnamon for flavor. You can use tiger nuts in any way you would almonds, cashews, or other common nut bases.
- Use tiger nut milk as a dairy milk substitute
One cup of tiger nut milk packs in an impressive 20 grams of protein, with all eight essential amino acids. Additionally, tiger nut milk offers a healthy dose of calcium, B vitamins, iron, and other nutrients you wouldn’t expect from a cup of regular nuts!
Soak a cup of tiger nuts overnight. Drain the water, add 3 cups of fresh water, and blend for about 5 minutes or until smooth. Strain through a fine sieve and store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Drink as is or use it as a substitute for any other nut milk or dairy milk you may have been using
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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 reduce 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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