Healthy eating involves trying new healthy foods. I bet you’ve never tried tiger nuts. Expand your culinary horizons. Try something new that’s healthy.
Add Tiger Nuts to Your Healthy Eating Plans
Tiger nuts may be the next trendy superfood and for good reason. They’re packed with fiber, prebiotics and antioxidants and are also gluten-free. According to Vogue Magazine, this nutrient rich little gem is “edging out almonds and cashews as granola’s dynamic new best friend.” On Instagram, #tigernuts is trending.
Despite their name, tiger nuts aren’t nuts and have nothing to do with the animal kingdom. If you’re never seen tiger nuts, they look a little like dried garbanzo beans. Despite their name and taste, they’re not nuts. They’re actually tubers or root vegetables that grow underground on Cyperus esculentus grass, a type of a type of groundcover. The “tiger” nomenclature is a recognition of the faint stripes that adorn their skin.
Tiger nuts have a very long history. An Oxford University study concluded that 2.4 million years ago our East African ancestors survived mainly on a diet of tiger nuts. Horchata, a milky drink made from tiger nuts, has been popular in Spain since the 13th century.
Tiger nuts are definitely a nutritious addition to a healthy diet. A one ounce serving has only 150 calories, but satisfies 40% of your daily fiber needs. They contain less fat and significantly more fiber than almonds. Tiger nuts are rich in potassium and magnesium, minerals necessary for heart health, and have as much iron as red meat.
Tiger Nuts are a Great Addition to a Healthy Eating Plan
I’d never tried tiger nuts, so I bought both whole and sliced raw tiger nuts and gave them a try. I attempted to bite into a whole nut but retreated, fearing a broken tooth. Even after soaking, I found them too hard to chew. (I later learned that peeled tiger nuts are available online.) The sliced ones were a different story. I was able to taste test them without worrying about making an emergency dental appointment.
I love to roast nuts to amp up their flavor, so I put some sliced tiger nuts under the broiler. As my husband removed the charred remnants and drowned out the flames on the cookie sheet, I decide on Plan B, stove-top roasting. Success! I’d describe the taste as nutty, reminiscent of almonds. I’m already using sliced tiger nuts as a salad topper and my husband is snacking away on the whole nuts, which soften nicely during roasting.
Health Eating Benefits of Tiger Nuts
1. Tiger Nuts are Prebiotics
Prebiotic foods contain indigestible fiber and sugars that stimulate and nourish the good bacteria in our intestines. Good gut bacteria is associated with a wide range of health benefits, including obesity prevention, diabetes control and gastrointestinal health.
2. Tiger Nuts are Very High in Fiber
This tiny root vegetable is packed with 10 grams of fiber in a one ounce serving. That’s almost one-half of your daily requirement. A 2009 study conducted at the University of Miguel Hernandez in Spain, discovered that tiger nut flour has a higher fiber content than rice bran, oats or apples. Diets high in fiber help reduce risk factors for heart disease, prevent constipation and keep blood sugar levels consistent.
3. Tiger Nuts Are Rich Sources of Healthful Antioxidants
Diets rich in antioxidants like Vitamin E and oleic acid protect the body from damage caused by free radicals which can lead to disease. A Chinese study analyzed tiger nut oil and concluded that its scavenging capacity helped destroy disease causing molecules.
4. Tiger Nuts Help with Diabetes Control
A 2015 study on a plant closely related to the one which propagates tiger nuts, found “significant antidiabetic activity,” improved body weight and reduction in cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
5. Tiger Nuts Promote Heart Health
Research involving a tiger nut beverage known as “horchata” shows that the high fiber content helps absorbs LDL (bad) cholesterol from the blood.
6. Tiger Nuts May Improve Your Sex Life
A lab study involving male rats who were treated with doses of tiger nut powder showed that it increased sexual activity and performance, perhaps due to increased testosterone levels. Could tiger nuts be the new Viagra?
It’s Time to Get Acquainted with Tiger Nuts
Tiger nuts are now available in some US health food stores. Whole Foods carries the Organic Gemini brand and Mother’s Market stocks nuts from Tiger Nuts USA. Both of these US based manufacturers sell only tiger nuts, offer a wider array of products, and have recipes on their websites.
Tiger nuts are quite versatile. Think of them as a healthy alternative to nuts and use them for snacking, in a smoothie, and as a salad and yogurt topping. Tiger nut flour is available and popular to make gluten-free baked goods and to use as a breading for fish or chicken. The oil can be used instead of olive oil.
Click here for a slightly different version of this article about adding new foods to your healthy eating plan first published in Lifetime Daily.