Tiger nuts, also referred to as yellow nutsedge, chufa, and nut grass, aren’t actually nuts – they’re a tuber (root vegetable) that’s part of the Cyperus esculentus family. Although this plant is cultivated for consumption in Spain, in other areas, it’s considered a weed. However, looking at all the wonderful health benefits it offers, perhaps more countries should adopt farming tiger nuts. High in fiber and rich in minerals, tiger nuts provide many health benefits, with little side effects. As a great source of plant protein, a gluten-free food, and a non-dairy option for those who are lactose-intolerant, tiger nuts can be successfully incorporated into many limited diets.
Tiger nuts are high in dietary fiber. As a starchy root plant, they help provide necessary “roughage” to your diet. The fiber in food aids your digestive system. Fiber-rich foods help you feel full, for more extended periods of time. They also slow digestion, which allows your gut to process your food steadily. Slow and consistent digestion helps regulate your gut and gives it plenty of time to absorb all the nutrients from your food. Furthermore, it helps your body experience regular, healthy bowel movements. Those with Irritable Bowel Syndrome and other digestive complaints may find relief from a high fiber diet.
Boost your immune system
Tiger nuts contain a good amount of Vitamin C – a vitamin that helps your immune system function better and wards off viral and bacterial illnesses. They also contain potassium, another mineral that enables your body to ward off disease. There are antibacterial properties in tiger nuts, also, which can actually help your body fight off “invaders.” In addition to Vitamin C, tiger nuts also contain a large portion of your recommended vitamin E allowance. Vitamin E and oleic acid found in tiger nuts are especially beneficial to a functioning immune system, and can even help those with compromised immune systems stay healthy.
Source of minerals and amino acids
Tiger nuts contain many trace minerals vital to the healthy functioning of your body’s different systems. High levels of potassium and phosphorus help with bone density and bone health. These are especially important for pregnant and post-menopausal women. Tiger nuts also contain magnesium which is vital for the normal functioning of the body, as it is required to carry out more than 300 biochemical reactions in the human body. Its especially helpful for proper muscle and nerve function.
Improve cardiovascular health
You can improve your overall cardiovascular health by lowering the LDL (the “bad” cholesterol) levels in your bloodstream. Incorporating tiger nuts as part of a heart-healthy diet can help lower these levels leading to more open and supple arteries. This, in turn, allows better blood flow throughout your body and reduces the risk of blockage that can lead to a heart attack. Tiger nuts are also rich in the Vitamin E group – different fat-soluble compounds that are rich in antioxidant qualities. Antioxidants help improve overall heart health by reducing free radical molecules in the body that damage your cells. They also have anti-inflammatory properties, which lower blood pressure.
Excellent source of plant protein
Those who follow a vegan or vegetarian diet will enjoy adding tiger nuts to their diet. With flexible preparation, tiger nuts can provide an excellent source of non-meat protein. Tiger nuts can be made into both milk and flour, both of which are versatile enough to substitute for wheat flour and dairy in a variety of dishes. Eating tiger nuts provides 2 grams of protein per one ounce serving. Rich in amino acids, tiger nuts provide protein for the natural regulation of the cardiovascular system and proper functioning of cellular activity that prevents the risk of cancer.
Help control metabolic syndrome
Metabolic syndrome is a precursor to pre-diabetic conditions and Type 2 diabetes. Eating more plant-based protein instead of animal protein has been demonstrated to have a positive effect on the health of those with metabolic syndrome and diabetes. In addition, eating a diet high in protein and low in simple carbohydrates is useful to those who control their diabetes through proper diet and exercise. The high fiber content of tiger nuts also helps manage diabetes and regulate blood sugar. Fiber regulates digestion, which in turn releases energy to your body in a steady stream. Instead of a quick processing and “dumping” of energy into the body from simple carbohydrates, a fiber-rich diet helps regulate blood sugar levels, avoiding dangerous peaks and crashes that can lead to unhealthy cravings.
Facilitate weight loss goals
High fiber diets help those who are dieting eat less while still feeling full. The fiber also controls your blood sugar levels, reducing unhealthy cravings for processed sugar or unhealthy fats. If you’re focusing on counting calories for weight loss goals, eating satiating foods low in calories helps you reach your goals. With 120 calories per serving and whopping 10 grams of dietary fiber, tiger nuts can be an excellent addition to your low-calorie diet. In addition, the fact that tiger nuts can also be made into flour gives you an option for high protein pasta or baked goods, in lieu of bleached white flour.
Alternative to dairy
Tiger nut milk is quite creamy and offers a slick, smooth, nutty and rich flavor. Processing the tuber into milk may be done at home, giving those who are lactose intolerant a tasty alternative to cow’s milk and another dairy. Tiger milk contains healthy dietary fats and is completely created from plants. It’s also a good alternative to soy milk, which some people also avoid for health reasons. Finally, for those with nut allergies, tiger nut milk is safely consumable – despite the name, tiger nuts aren’t nuts, but rather small tubers.
Incorporating Tiger Nuts into your diet
Tiger nuts are versatile and may be consumed in a variety of ways. You may purchase tiger nut milk, or make your own at home. Tiger nuts can also be processed into a non-wheat flour, ideal to substitute into many baked goods or homemade pasta recipes. You may also prepare tiger nuts as you would any other tuber – boiled, baked, or roasted. Although they’re smaller than other potatoes and may take a bit more preparation, they yield a rich, slightly earthy flavor and take to a variety of different seasonings.
Making your own Tiger Nut milk
You can make your own delicious tiger nut milk at home. You’ll need
- One cup of tiger nuts (soaked for 24-48 hours)
- A glass of water
- Jaggery or honey
Then soak your tiger nuts in a bowl of water and cover the bowl with a cloth for 1-2 days. Once they’ve softened, blend in a blender. Add the spices and the sweetener of your choice to the blender and pulse until thick and smooth. Strain into a glass or storage vessel your tiger nut milk is ready to drink or store in a refrigerator.