Tiger nuts are small, edible root vegetables that grow in warm regions of Africa and the Mediterranean.
Tiger nuts are nuts that are not even nuts. They are rather small tubers sourced from the Cyperus esculentus plant, also known as yellow nutsedge. These tubers are roughly the size of a chickpea and have a chewy texture and slightly sweet, nutty flavor.
The nuts have been consumed for thousands of years, with evidence of their consumption dating back to ancient Egypt.
They were also a popular food source for the native people of West Africa, who would grind them into flour to make porridge or mix them with water to create a refreshing drink.
As of today, they are becoming increasingly popular as a flexible and healthy food option that can be used in various recipes.
Studies have investigated the potential health benefits of tiger nuts and have found that they may contribute to improved overall health. They offer several potential health advantages, including the following:
- Promotes healthy digestion
The nuts are a valuable source of dietary fiber that plays a crucial role in maintaining healthy digestion. By adding bulk to the stool, tiger nut fiber promotes regular bowel movements and prevents digestive issues such as constipation.
Moreover, they contain resistant starch, which remains undigested in the small intestine and reaches the large intestine intact.
This resistant starch acts as a prebiotic, stimulating the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut. These bacteria break down fiber and other complex carbohydrates to produce short-chain fatty acids that keep the digestive system healthy.
They contain enzymes like catalase and lipase that assist in the digestion of fats and proteins. These enzymes enhance nutrient absorption, reducing the likelihood of digestive discomfort or malabsorption.
- Supports heart health
Tiger nuts possess various elements that support heart health. Firstly, they contain healthy fats such as monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats that can reduce the level of bad cholesterol (LDL) and increase the level of good cholesterol (HDL). This can decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Secondly, tiger nuts are an abundant source of potassium, a vital mineral for heart health. Potassium can regulate blood pressure by counteracting the effects of sodium, which can elevate blood pressure. Maintaining healthy blood pressure is essential in reducing the risk of heart disease.
Additionally, tiger nuts contain magnesium, which is another mineral that can support heart health. Magnesium helps regulate heart rhythm and prevent irregular heartbeats, which can lower the risk of heart disease and stroke.
Tiger nuts are rich in antioxidants, which can reduce inflammation and prevent damage to blood vessels. This can aid in maintaining healthy blood flow and decreasing the risk of cardiovascular disease.
- Improve blood sugar control
Tiger nuts possess blood sugar control benefits due to their low glycemic index and high fiber content. The fiber content in tiger nuts decelerates carbohydrate digestion and absorption, preventing blood sugar levels from spiking after meals.
Tiger nuts contain resistant starch that can improve insulin sensitivity, the hormone responsible for regulating blood sugar levels by facilitating glucose absorption in the body’s cells. Enhancing insulin sensitivity means that the body can use insulin more efficiently, resulting in better blood sugar control.
Moreover, tiger nuts contain specific components that can improve blood sugar levels. For example, tiger nuts are abundant in flavonoids, including quercetin, that can regulate blood sugar levels according to research findings.
- Rich in antioxidants
Tiger nuts are a rich source of antioxidants, containing compounds such as flavonoids and phenolic acids. Antioxidants are crucial molecules that counteract the harmful effects of free radicals, unstable molecules that can cause cellular damage and lead to chronic diseases such as heart disease and cancer.
Flavonoids found abundantly in tiger nuts, are a type of antioxidant that exhibits potent activity against oxidative stress.
Tiger nuts contain various flavonoids, including quercetin and kaempferol, which have been proven to have high antioxidant efficacy.
Phenolic acids, another antioxidant type in tiger nuts, are renowned for their anti-inflammatory properties and for reducing the risk of chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease.
Moreover, vitamin E, an effective antioxidant, is also present in tiger nuts. It protects cell membranes against oxidative harm.
- Help with weight management
Tiger nuts can aid in weight management as they are a rich source of fiber and resistant starch, with a low calorie and fat content.
The fiber present in tiger nuts increases satiety and feelings of fullness, which in turn decreases overall calorie consumption by curbing appetite and preventing overeating.
Additionally, the resistant starch found in tiger nuts fosters the growth of beneficial gut bacteria that aid in reducing inflammation and improving metabolism.
Moreover, tiger nuts have a low calorie and fat content, making them a healthy snack option for weight management.
Furthermore, tiger nuts are a good source of plant-based protein, which can also aid in weight management by increasing satiety and decreasing appetite.
- Good source of essential nutrients
Tiger nuts are considered a nutrient-dense food, containing a variety of essential vitamins, minerals, and other important nutrients for optimal health and well-being.
Fiber is one of the key nutrients found in tiger nuts, which plays a crucial role in maintaining healthy digestion and preventing chronic diseases. Tiger nuts are a great source of insoluble fiber, which supports regular bowel movements and prevents constipation.
Tiger nuts are also a good source of plant-based protein, which is essential for building and repairing tissues in the body. This is particularly beneficial for those following a vegetarian or vegan diet.
Moreover, tiger nuts are rich in several essential vitamins and minerals, including potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, and vitamins E and C. These nutrients are necessary for maintaining healthy blood pressure, regulating heart rhythm, building strong bones, and supporting a healthy immune system.
Finally, tiger nuts contain antioxidants, such as flavonoids and phenolic acids, that help to protect the body against oxidative stress and reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as cancer and heart disease.
- Anti-inflammatory properties
Tiger nuts possess anti-inflammatory properties attributed to various compounds such as flavonoids and phenolic acids that are known to have anti-inflammatory effects in the body.
While inflammation is a natural response of the body to injury or infection, prolonged inflammation can contribute to the development of several diseases, including heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. Therefore, consuming foods that contain anti-inflammatory compounds like tiger nuts can reduce inflammation in the body and promote overall health.
Studies have shown that tiger nut extract and oil can reduce inflammation in mice with colitis, characterized by inflammation of the colon, and rats with arthritis, respectively.
The anti-inflammatory properties of tiger nuts are attributed to specific compounds such as ferulic acid and caffeic acid, which are phenolic acids, as well as flavonoids like quercetin and kaempferol.
These compounds work by reducing oxidative stress and inhibiting the production of inflammatory molecules in the body.
Overall, consuming tiger nuts can be beneficial for health, given their anti-inflammatory properties that can reduce the risk of chronic diseases associated with inflammation.
- Sexual Benefits
Although certain compounds found in tiger nuts may have potential benefits for sexual health, such as improving erectile function and increasing testosterone levels, more research is needed to fully understand these effects and determine the optimal dosages and forms of tiger nuts to consume.
Consuming tiger nuts is generally considered safe and does not pose any known serious side effects. However, some individuals may experience minor side effects after consuming tiger nuts.
These side effects can be:
- Digestive issues
Due to the high fiber and resistant starch content in tiger nuts, some individuals may experience digestive issues such as bloating, gas, and diarrhea, particularly if consumed in large amounts.
- Allergic reactions
Additionally, tiger nuts can cause allergic reactions in some individuals, which may present as symptoms like itching, hives, swelling, or difficulty breathing.
If you have any of the above concerns, it is recommended to consult with a healthcare professional before consuming tiger nuts.
How to Enjoy Tiger Nuts
There are different ways tiger nuts can be served and enjoyed. Below, are a few ideas:
- Snack on them
Tiger nuts have a slightly sweet, nutty flavor and a crunchy texture that makes them a delicious snack on their own.
Simply rinse them and eat them as a snack, or combine them with other nuts, seeds, and dried fruit for a healthy trail mix.
- Make tiger nut milk
Tiger nuts can be blended with water to make creamy, dairy-free milk that can be used as a substitute for cow’s milk in recipes. To make tiger nut milk, soak the tiger nuts in water overnight, drain them, and blend them with fresh water until smooth.
Strain the mixture through a nut milk bag or cheesecloth, and store the milk in the fridge for up to five days.
- Bake with tiger nut flour
Tiger nut flour is a gluten-free flour that can be used in baking recipes, like cakes, muffins, and cookies. It has a slightly sweet, nutty flavor and a fine texture that works well in baked goods. Substitute tiger nut flour for up to 25% of the flour called for in a recipe.
- Use tiger nuts in granola
They can add a delicious crunch to homemade granola. Combine them with oats, nuts, seeds, and dried fruit, and bake in the oven until golden brown.
- Add tiger nut milk to smoothies
Tiger nut milk can be used as a creamy base for smoothies, adding a delicious nutty flavor. Combine tiger nut milk with your favorite fruits, vegetables, and protein powder for a healthy and delicious smoothie.