Do not let the name fool you. Contrary to its name, tiger nuts do not belong to the nut or legume family. As a result, they are completely safe for those with tree nut or peanut allergies. What else do you need to know about tiger nuts? Read on to discover the amazing tiger nuts nutrition facts, tiger nuts health benefits, deep history, and versatile recipes of this unique plant-based food.
History and Facts about Tiger Nuts
Tiger nuts are a misnomer due to the fact they are not nuts. They are a starchy tuber vegetable from its larger plant, Cyperus esculentus. It also has been called many names, including chufa sedge, yellow nutsedge, nut grass, and earth almond.
Tiger nuts were once thought to fuel 80% of the pre-human ancestors diet about two million years ago. This means that they are perfect for the Paleo diet. Tiger nuts are one of the earliest plants cultivated in ancient Egypt, as they were often roasted, boiled in beer, or served with honey. They were illustrated on many tombs, and it was even discovered in the stomachs of mummies. They were also used medicinally, as enemas and oral medications.
Today, tiger nuts are widely cultivated in Spain; however, many other countries consider it a weed. It was introduced to the Arab culture in the Valencia region. They are also available in the U.S., Hispanic regions, and various African countries. In the U.S., the tiger nut plant is often considered a weed, and it grows rapidly between various cereal and vegetable crops.
However, tiger nuts are far from just a weed. It is interesting that they have been researched as a potential new form of biofuel. It has also been used as fishing bait and as a cosmetic product to help slow skin cells from aging.
Tiger Nuts Nutrition
Tiger nuts are absolutely loaded with nutrition. They contain an incredible 10 grams of fiber in about a quarter cup, which is good for 41% of your recommended daily intake of fiber. It is also a decent source of carbohydrates and protein. Unlike other starch tuber vegetables, tiger nuts have a fatty acid composition similar to olive oil with about 73% monounsaturated fat, 18% saturated fat, and nine percent polyunsaturated fat.
From a micronutrient perspective, tiger nuts are full of iron, magnesium, zinc, potassium, sodium, phosphorus, copper, vitamin B6, vitamin C, and vitamin E. The following nutrition chart is a brief synopsis of information of a quarter cup or 40 grams of tiger nuts.
|Total fat||8 g||12.00%|
|Vitamin B6||0.1 mg||5.00%|
* N/A—Not Applicable
5 Health Benefits of Tiger Nuts
What are the health benefits of tiger nuts? These tubers are known for its antioxidant, antibacterial, carminative, diuretic, aphrodisiac, emmenagogue, tonic, and stimulant properties. As a result, they have been reported as a treatment of indigestion, gas, excessive thirst, diarrhea, and dysentery. The high fiber in them helps you feel full, prevent heart disease, lose weight, prevent diabetes, and maintain digestive health. The following are five more tiger nuts benefits.
1. Contains potent antibacterial properties
Tiger nuts also have the ability to fight bacteria in the body. A study published in the Ancient Science of Life in 2009 found that their extracts have bacteria-fighting effects on several harmful human pathogens, such as E. coli, salmonella, and staph infections. They are also on a list of plants that can be used for common bacterial infections, which is especially useful for people that have developed antibiotic resistance in third-world countries.
2. Promotes heart health
High cholesterol is a major risk factor for heart disease. Research published in Food and Function in 2015 found that tiger nuts can lower LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol levels and balance cholesterol levels through absorption due to its fiber content. The high-amino acid content of arginine in tiger nuts also helps the body make nitric oxide. This helps maintain normal blood flow and the dilation of blood vessels. They are also a great source of antioxidants like vitamin E and oleic acid that helps protect the body against various heart diseases.
3. Works as a prebiotic
Tiger nuts also help the digestive tract as a resistant starch prebiotic. Prebiotics function as an energy source for the positive gut bacteria that help the digestive system run at its best. A rapid shift in gut bacteria can cause temporarily stomach upset. That is why is good to introduce prebiotic foods into the diet gradually to help avoid temporary bloating or gas. Consumed in healthy doses, tiger nuts will relieve diarrhea and gas.
4. Controls diabetes
The high insoluble fiber content in tiger nuts helps diabetics regulate their blood sugar levels. In a study published in the Journal of Pharmacy & Bioallied Sciences in 2015 looked at the effects of tiger nuts on diabetic mice. The researchers found that after three weeks, the treatment showed positive anti-diabetic effects.
5. Improves sex life
In a preliminary study published in the journal BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine in 2015 observed how the consumption of tiger nuts affected copulatory behavior in male rats. The study found that they improved the performance of sex in the rats, which also infers a possible benefit for human male sexual performance. The rats also had heightened testosterone levels and briefer intermission times.
How to Use Tiger Nuts including Recipes
What are other tiger nuts uses? Tiger nuts are highly underutilized as a snack and ingredient. It is a pleasant food to consume due to its naturally sweet, slightly nutty, earthy vanilla flavor. Want to know how to eat tiger nuts in more ways than just a snack? It is popular in Spain as a sweet, milk-like drink called horchata de chufa.
Let’s take a look at a few quick tiger nuts recipes that you can prepare at home.
1. Tiger Nuts Trail Mix Recipe
- 1 (8-ounce) package of tiger nuts
- ½ cup of golden raisins
- ½ cup of dried cranberries
- 1 teaspoon of tiger nut oil
- ½ teaspoon of paprika
- ¼ teaspoon of cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon of coarse sea salt
- 1 tablespoon of sesame seeds
Toss tiger nuts, cranberries, and raisins into a bowl. Drizzle with tiger nut oil, and then sprinkle with cayenne pepper, paprika, sesame seeds, and sea salt.
Toss to coat, and serve immediately or store in an airtight container for up to two weeks at room temperature.
2. Tiger Nuts Trail Mix Granola Recipe
- ¼ cup of almond butter
- 1 tablespoon of tiger nuts
- 2 tablespoons of pure honey or maple syrup
- ½ teaspoon of cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon of vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon of sesame seeds
- ½ cup of rolled oats
- ½ cup of tiger nut flour
Preheat the oven to 400°F.
Add all the ingredients to a bowl, and mix until well until combined.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and spread the oat mixture over the baking sheet. Bake for nine minutes, and if you want it crunchier, bake for another five minutes.
Eat as a snack on its own or in a cereal. It will serve up to six people.
3. Tiger Nuts Milk Recipe
- 1 cup of tiger nuts
- 4 seedless medjool dates, or 1 to 2 tablespoons of pure raw honey or maple syrup
- 4 cups of filtered water
Put all the ingredients in a high-speed blender, and mix until desired consistency is achieved. Strain the mixture through a nut bag over a bowl, and press down to release all of the milk.
Transfer to Mason jars, and shake well before drinking.
4. Gluten-Free Tiger Nuts Pie Crust Recipe
- ½ cup of walnuts
- 1 ½ cups of tiger nut flour
- 2 tablespoons of honey or maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon of virgin coconut oil
- ¼ teaspoon of coarse sea salt
- ½ teaspoon of pure vanilla extract
Place walnuts in a food processor. Blend until it forms the consistency of a fine meal. A few chunks will still work to give it a nice crusty texture.
To make the pie crust, add the walnut meal and other ingredients to a bowl and mix together until it is moist and moldable.
Line a nine-inch pie pan with the piecrust mixture, and press on the bottom and the sides until it is even. It should be about a quarter-inch thick.
In summary, tiger nuts are not part of the nut family, and are therefore deemed safe for those with nut allergies. Tiger nuts health benefits include being high in antioxidants and fiber, working as a prebiotic, having antibacterial properties, lowering bad cholesterol, improving sex life, and controlling diabetes.
Tiger nuts are often used to make a sweet, milk-like drink called horchata de chufa, which is very popular in Spain. On a precautionary note, although rare, there are a few cases of people reporting tiger nut allergies. You should consult your doctor immediately if you experience allergic symptoms after consuming tiger nuts.
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