What are Tiger Nuts?
Tiger nuts are also known as chufa nuts or earth almonds but are not really nuts. These are edible tubers. Their size is similar to chickpea and has a chewy texture and a sweet nutty flavor similar to coconut. Tiger nuts were first cultivated in Egypt and used traditionally in both food and medicine. Tiger nuts are rich in nutrients and provide humans with numerous health benefits.
Health Benefits of Tiger Nuts
Have a Nutrients-rich Profile
Tiger nuts are rich in nutrients and contain beneficial compounds. It comes in 3 varieties i.e. black, brown, yellow, and the nutrient content depends on the type.
28 grams of tiger nuts provide 143 calories, 9 grams fiber, 19 grams carbohydrates, 1 gram protein, 7 gram fats, 1-2 % of the daily value of iron, 5-6 % of the daily value of phosphorus, 2-8% of the daily value of vitamin C, 7% of the daily value of magnesium, 5-7 % of the daily value of zinc, 3-5 percent of the daily value of potassium and 1% of the daily value of calcium.(1)
Tiger nuts are rich in antioxidants sources. Antioxidants are beneficial compounds that play a role in protecting the body against aging and diseases like cancer and heart diseases. Germinating tiger nuts prior to eating enhances their antioxidant power.(2)
It is also said that tiger nuts contain antinutrients like phytates, oxalates, saponins, and tannins. These antinutrients reduce nutrient absorption in the gut.
After germinating or roasting these tubers the antinutrients decrease making them easier to be absorbed by the body and utilize the nutrients in them.(3)
There are numerous ways in which tiger nuts can improve digestion. They are high in insoluble fibers that can pass through the gut without being digested and also add bulk to the stool. They help in the easy movement of the food through the gut, thereby, preventing constipation.(1, 4)
Tiger nuts contain resistant starch that feeds the friendly bacteria in the gut and helps the digestion process to run smoothly.(5) It also contains enzymes such as catalases, lipase, and amylase that help in breaking down food in the gut that further helps in relieving gas, indigestion and diarrhea.
It should be known that the high fiber content of tiger nuts can cause gas and bloating and therefore its quantity should be increased gradually.
Reduces Blood Sugar Level
Tiger nuts help in keeping the blood sugar level under control.
Studies show that its extract may help reduce the blood sugar level, which may be due to the tuber’s high fiber content that slows down the absorption of sugar in the gut.(3)
Tiger nut extract may inhibit the action of carb-digesting enzymes, which may result in less sugar being absorbed from the gut. This may lower the blood sugar level.(6)
Improves Heart Health
Tiger nuts are good for heart health as they are rich in monounsaturated fats. This gives them a profile similar to heart-healthy olive oil.(1, 7, 8) Diets that are rich in monounsaturated fats are linked with lower LDL cholesterol levels and higher levels of HDL cholesterol. They are also known to lower the risk of heart attack, stroke, and death from heart diseases.(9, 10) Tiger nuts also improve blood circulation and lower the formation of blood clots, reducing the risk of heart diseases.(11)
Boost Immune Health
Tiger nuts boost the immune system. A test-tube study was done in which the tiger nuts were tested against several types of bacteria that cause infections in human. It was found to be effective against E.coli, Staphylococcus, and Salmonella bacteria.(12) Another study was done and had a similar result. Additionally, it was found tiger nuts were also effective in fighting against antibiotic-resistant bacterial infection.(13)
Act as Aphrodisiac
Tiger nuts help in boosting libido. A study done on rats found tiger nuts to be effective in preserving testicular weight and sperm production after heavy metal poisoning.(14) Another rat study found a boost in sexual activity on rats eating a large number of tiger nuts for 30 days.(15)
How to Add Tiger Nuts to Diet?
Tiger nuts are versatile and can be added to the diet in a number of ways. They can be roasted and can also be eaten raw. They can be used to make a tasty snack and can be used as a topping on salads, smoothies, breakfast cereals, and yogurt. They can be ground and added to baked foods and can also be used as a gluten-free replacement for flour.
Tiger nuts are health-promoting food as they are rich in nutrients. They have a few unpleasant symptoms which can be overcome by having a knowledge of adding them to the diet.