Sometimes it seems as if nature is partial in its distribution of goodies, to some plants it is overly generous to others not so much. It put in so much good stuff into the simple tiger nut that it is referred to as a ‘superfood’. Tiger nuts have not been given the attention they deserve due to lack of information. Really, it should be part of everyone’s diet.
Tiger Nut ‘Cyperus esculentus’ is not a nut but a tuber. It is found in many warm countries of the world, from the far east to the middle east and Africa through to the USA and South America. It was originally native to the Mediterranean region. The three main varieties are black, brown and yellow. The yellow variety is bigger and fleshier than the black and brown. It is the most common variety in Nigeria followed by the brown.
Tiger nut is known by different names chufa, earth almonds, yellow nutsedge, rush nut, zuki nuts and yellow nutgrass. In Nigeria, where it is mostly cultivated in the northwestern part of the country, it is called aya (Hausa), aki awusa (igbo), imumu/ofio (yoruba) while in Ghana it is called atadwe. It is sold mostly by Northern Nigerian street vendors from their wheelbarrows in both the fresh and dry form, alongside dry dates (debino) and kuli kuli. The fresh tiger nut is pale yellow in colour, it is fat and juicy while the dry tuber is brown, shrivelled with little or no juice in it.
Tiger nuts can be eaten raw, fresh, dry, peeled or unpeeled, roasted and baked. It also makes great milk, flour and oil. The majority of the time, Tiger nuts are consumed as raw ‘nuts’ or as tiger nut milk called Kunnu Aya in Nigeria and Horchata du chufas in Spain.
Other Tiger nuts products
There are so many ways tiger nuts can be used with new recipes being developed every day e.g. Dakuwa, topping for ice cream, pudding etc., on-dairy ice cream base, Vegetable burger patty, pudding, Smoothies, Caramel, Granola/Snack bars, Tiger nut ‘coffee’, Wine, Nougat, Jam, beer, Muesli etc.
Nutritional composition of tiger nuts (g/100g)
Here are 30 Amazing Facts about Tiger nuts, they are beneficial and health-related facts. Also learn about Tiger nut milk, Tiger nut flour and Tiger nut oil. There is an index of Tiger nut recipes being developed.
30 AMAZING FACTS ABOUT TIGER NUTS
- Tiger nut is a misnomer because tiger nut has nothing to do with the tiger and it is not a nut. Rather tiger nut is a tuber, a mini tuber.
- Fresh tiger nut is crunchy, sweet and juicy. Quite similar to coconut.
- The yellow variety produces more milk and has more protein. Also, it has less fat and fewer antinutrients.
- It contains vitamins B, C and E, insoluble fibre, iron, potassium, proteins, natural sugars, zinc, magnesium, calcium, phosphorous etc.
- It contains enzymes that aid digestion such as catalase, lipase and amylase, and are often recommended to those who suffer from constipation, indigestion, flatulence and diarrhoea.
- The presence of magnesium in tiger nuts help in the fight against tooth decay and osteoporosis, prevention of menstrual problems and maintenance of a stable body pH.
- Due to the high amount of potassium in tiger nuts, it helps control activities of the heart and blood pressure. It is essential for proper functioning of human cells and vital organs also for electrolyte balance in the body.
- Tiger nut is ideal for weight watchers since it is very high in fibre, it keeps you feeling fuller for longer, resulting in a lower calorie intake.
- This insoluble fibre is also good and recommended for diabetics for the regulation of blood glucose.
- Due to the high fibre content, tiger nuts help prevent constipation. Just eat a handful or 2 at night with some water.
- It is one of the highest whole food sources of a fibre called resistant starch prebiotic. Resistant starch feeds the good bacteria in the digestive tract. It might eventually be found to be a powerful component in preventing diabetes and obesity.
- It has a higher protein, lipid and carbohydrate content than other tubers. The carbohydrate is mainly starch and fibre.
- Due to its high iron content, it is important to include it in a vegan diet which is normally low on iron.
- Tigernut is an aphrodisiac, very good for the libido in both male and female. It is rich in arginine which is also good for sexual health, arterial and heart health.
- Arginine also helps in the liberation of much-needed insulin in diabetics thereby controlling the blood sugar.
- Tiger nut contains very healthy fat.
- Due to its high vitamin E content, it is used as a cosmetic product, to help slow down the ageing of skin cells.
- It is high in antioxidants, antibacterial and antispasmodic.
- Tiger nuts like most plants contain anti-nutrients and phytochemicals which can be reduced by soaking and toasting.
- Antinutrients in tiger nuts are very low compared to other fruits, nuts, tubers, and vegetables, even peanuts. You will have to eat a huge amount of tubers for these anti-nutrients to have any significant effect, Do not worry about them once you eat a nutrient-rich diet, also see this and this.
- Phytochemicals in tiger nuts are most beneficial to humans, they have antimicrobial, analgesic, antispasmodic, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.
- It is ideal for those with nut allergies because it is not a nut.
- Allergies are rare with tiger nuts.
- Tiger nut fits right into the Paleo diet, keto diet and diabetic diet.
- It is good for colitis and celiac patients.
- Due to their natural sweetness, cravings for candy or other sweet can be taken care of using wholesome tiger nuts.
- It is a perfect snack substitute for popcorn and potato chips.
- Dry tiger nuts can be eaten as it is but it will be very chewy. Soak in water for 12-24 hours to rehydrate and crisp up.
- Tiger nut was found to increase the serum level of oestrogen in rats. If you have an oestrogen dominant/sensitive issue, e.g. endometriosis, avoid tiger nuts.
- It is boiled or ground and used as fishing bait.
Side effects of tiger nuts
While benefits of tiger nuts are countless it is also worth noting that in very rare cases there are some side effects.
- Skin allergies, typically include rash, swelling around the mouth and eye, itching, general redness, tingling sensation in the mouth, angioedema and painful mouth ulcers.
- Respiratory reactions, include coughing, running nose, sneezing also swelling in the throat which can cause shortness of breath and a tight feeling in the throat these symptoms require immediate treatment.
- Gastrointestinal issues, tiger nuts are high in fibre and excessive intake of fibre can lead to stomach problems like bloating, diarrhoea and flatulence. People with digestive issues such as IBS should eat it sparingly.
- It is also high in fat (mostly good fat), which means high calories and tendency to cause weight gain.
- The information given here is not medical or nutritional advice but purely informative and nothing more.
- You will need to see a doctor if you have any disorder and a nutritionist for advice on your diet.
Do you have any COMMENTS, QUESTIONS and SUGGESTIONS, please leave a comment below.
Check out my 30 Amazing Facts About Tigernut Milk, 25 Amazing Facts About Tiger nut flour, Amazing facts about Tiger nut oil. Also an Index of Tiger nut recipes coming soon. Learn how to make delectable Tiger nut milk (Kunnu-Aya, Chufas de Horchata).
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