One of the most interesting things about Tiger nuts is the food category to which it belongs. While most people may assume that Tiger nuts are nuts, they are in fact, a small root vegetable (tuber) of the sedge family. Tiger nuts come in three varieties including yellow, brown and black.
Tiger nuts, also popularly known as cyperus esculentus, chufa, yellow nutsedge, earth almonds or aya, aki awusa, imumu/ofio in Nigeria, was originally cultivated in Africa however while Africans appear to have used them first, the Spanish have also been using Tiger nuts since the 18th century to make the famous horchata milk. Tiger nuts were also used by ancient Egyptian, Persian and Chinese empires for their medicinal values.
Tiger nuts are generally considered a super food because of their nutrients and numerous health benefits. Generally, one ounce of plain, raw tiger nuts, contains 10grams of fibre, 9 grams of natural sugars, 120 calories, 9 grams of carb, 1 gram of protein and other minerals and vitamins such as calcium, magnesium, potassium, sodium, phosphorus, zinc folic acid, and vitamins E & C.
Health Benefits of Tigernuts
- Tiger nuts are a good source of insoluble fiber which prevents constipation and aids digestion;
- Tiger nuts are rich in heart-healthy nutrients. They improve vein and artery flexibility while improving blood circulation, which could potentially reduce the risk of heart diseases. Also, the presence of potassium in Tiger nuts, help control blood pressure and the activities of the heart;
- The presence of magnesium and calcium in Tiger nuts help in the formation of healthy teeth and bones while also maintaining the activities of muscles and nerves;
- Tiger nuts are one of the highest sources of a fibre called resistant starch prebiotic. Resistant starch feeds the good bacteria in the digestive tract and is also a powerful component in preventing diabetes and obesity;
- Tiger nuts contain a significant amount of iron and is therefore recommended for vegans.
- Tiger nuts contain arginine which helps in the liberation of insulin in diabetics consequently controlling the blood sugar;
- Due to the high vitamin E content in Tiger nuts, they are used as ingredient for cosmetic products to help slow down the ageing of skin cells;
- Tiger nuts contain antimicrobial, analgesic, antispasmodic, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties which are very beneficial to the body;
- Tiger nuts contribute to a stronger immune system by fighting infections, including those from antibiotic-resistant bacteria. The folic acid provided by the tuber (also known as Vitamin B9) helps in the formation of red and white blood cells and the content in Vitamin B6 intervenes in the functioning of nerve cells and in the formation of antibodies and red blood cells;
- Tiger nuts are a good source of vegetable proteins as they contain a large number of essential amino acids;
- Tiger nuts have a history of being used as a natural aphrodisiac in some parts of the world. They contain contain niacin, which helps generate sexual hormones;
The health benefits of Tiger nuts are exhaustive. Talk about “small but mighty”.
Recipes With Tigernuts
How to Eat Tigernuts
Tiger nuts are very versatile and can be consumed in a lot of ways. They may be eaten raw, fresh, dry, peeled, unpeeled, roasted, baked, etc. Here are some popular ways to use them:
- Raw or Whole Tiger Nuts
Tiger nuts are very tasty in their raw state. They are sweet, creamy and crunchy, just like coconuts. They may be soaked in water for a few hours to get a softer texture before consumption.
- Tiger Nut Milk
One of the most popular Tiger nuts recipe is the tiger nut milk (also known as horchata in spain or kunu aya in Nigeria). It is a simple dairy-free milk that may be combined with flavours such as vanilla, strawberry, etc. It is the perfect vegetable drink to substitute for animal origin milk and it can perfectly be combined with all types of diets.
- Tiger Nut Ice Cream and/or Yogurts
Tiger nuts can be used to make dairy-free ice cream and yogurt. They serve as a great base for ice cream and yogurt.
Raw Tiger Nuts can be used as toppings for ice cream and yogurts.
- Tiger Nut Flour
If you are looking for a gluten-free flour, then Tiger nuts flour is the way to go. The leftover Tiger nut pulp from making milk, ice cream and yogurt can be dehydrated and repurposed into “flour”. This is an excellent gluten-free alternative to regular flour and can be used to make cookies, pancakes, veggie burgers, bread, etc. Baking with Tiger Nut flour adds sweetness, moisture and chewiness to pastries just like almond flour.
- Tiger Nut Spread
Tiger nut spread is a great alternative for peanut butter. It may be used on toasts, as a thickener in smoothies, a flavor agent in sauces or other ways.
Additionally, Tiger nuts can also be used to make pudding, caramel, granolas, coffee, wine, nougat, jam, beer. Feel free to experiment with recipes you enjoy!
Side effects of tigernuts
While the benefits of tiger nuts are countless it is also worthy to note that in very rare cases there may be some side effects such as coughing or sneezing. Also, people with sensitivities to high-fiber foods might experience some gas, bloating, cramping, or diarrhea if eaten excessively.
Notwithstanding the minimal side effects, Tigernuts are overall, very healthy and excellent additions to all diet types.