General Health

Tiger Nuts: The Emerging Superfood?

A little-known superfood is slowly making its way onto the market.

You may have never heard of this delicious food, but it’s been consumed around the world for thousands of years.

It was first cultivated in ancient Egypt and has spread across the globe because of its delicious Cflavour and health benefits.

The name of this food? Tiger nuts. These little nuts may not have a place in your pantry, but they should. They offer incredible health benefits and taste great! If you’ve never heard of tiger nuts, that’s okay.

They haven’t enjoyed the limelight like other superfoods like kale, yogurt, and salmon.

However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be eating this tasty food. Here is everything you need to know about tiger nuts: the emerging superfood.

What are Tiger Nuts?

Interestingly enough, tiger nuts are not actually nuts! They are tubers and come from a plant called Cyperus esculentus.

Cyperus esculentus is considered a weed in some countries, like the United States, because it multiplies so quickly. However, the root vegetable from this plant is a delicious and nutritious part of a plant-based diet.

Since tiger nuts are not actual nuts, people with nut allergies are free to enjoy them. These tubers come from sedge grass and are sometimes referred to as chufa nuts.

Tiger nuts got their name from the stripes on their wrinkly exterior. They are popular in Spain, where they are known as chufa nuts and are used in the traditional drink horchata. Spain now produces most tiger nuts crops, but the plant can be found in many other countries.

Tiger nuts are about the size of a chickpea and have a unique flavor that is similar to both coconuts and almonds. You can buy organic tiger nuts, both peeled and not peeled.

The Benefits of Tiger Nuts for Men’s Health

Tiger nuts are an excellent addition to anyone’s diet. However, let’s take a closer look at why men, in particular, should eat tiger nuts regularly.

1) Rich in Nutrients, Antioxidants, and Fibre

Tiger nuts are incredibly healthy. They are full of dietary fiber but low in fat and calories. One serving of tiger nuts has 10 grams of fiber, which is almost half of what you need per day! Tiger nuts were an essential part of our ancestors’ diet because of this!

Tiger nuts are also a great source of vitamins and minerals. They contain vitamins C and E, as well as potassium, magnesium, and phosphorous.

Tiger nuts are also a great source of resistant starch fiber. This insoluble fiber helps many different parts of our bodies function better, especially the gut.

The fat in tiger nuts is also good for you. It is mostly made up of oleic acid, which is a type of monounsaturated fat. This means it can help suppress your appetite and even help you lose weight.

Tiger nuts are also full of antioxidants that can fight cell damage caused by free radicals. Both oleic acid and vitamin E work as antioxidants that protect your body. They can help fight typical signs of aging and severe diseases like heart disease and cancer.

2) Hormonal Balance

Tiger nuts can help keep your hormones balanced. If you have low testosterone levels, then tiger nuts may help increase your levels.

While no research has been done on humans, scientists had found that when rats ate large amounts of tiger nuts, their testosterone levels increased. This also led to more sexual activity in the rats and less time between mating.

Tiger nuts also play a significant role in helping your body produce insulin. This hormone is essential for your body to use sugar. Too much insulin is a serious problem for many people.

High levels of insulin can lead to insulin resistance. Insulin resistance then leads to high blood sugar levels, resulting in type 2 diabetes. Tiger nuts can improve insulin sensitivity because of arginine, a semi-essential amino acid that plays a massive role in its production.

3) Libido and Fertility

Tiger nuts can also be used to increase your libido. Since tiger nuts can also increase testosterone levels, your libido will naturally increase as well.

Ayurvedic medicine has long considered tiger nuts to be an aphrodisiac. It has also been used to treat sexual issues like decreased sperm count and erectile dysfunction.

While there hasn’t been much current research on the ability of tiger nuts to boost libido, research has been conducted about its effects on male fertility. In rats, tiger nuts were able to counteract the effects of heavy metal poisoning in the testicles. This led to rats maintaining healthy testicular weight and sperm production.

4) Blood Sugar Levels

Tiger nuts are a healthy snack if you are hoping to keep your blood sugar levels balanced. Avoiding spikes in blood sugar is essential when it comes to decreasing your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Tiger nuts do not cause a spike in blood sugar because they contain a large amount of resistant starch fiber. This type of insoluble fiber can pass through both your stomach and small intestines without being digested. This means your body doesn’t get a chance to absorb the fiber and try to convert it to blood sugar.

Another way that tiger nuts can regulate your blood sugar levels is by increasing your body’s production of insulin and insulin sensitivity. This is due to arginine, an amino acid that helps this critical hormone function in your body.

Tiger nuts also contain compounds that affect the body similarly to diabetic medications that lower blood sugar.

More research needs to be done to determine why they cause this and how it can be used to help humans control their blood sugar. However, there is promising research that foods that contain tiger nuts could eventually help patients manage their diabetes.

5) Digestion

Tiger nuts are also great for your digestion! The resistant starch fibers that are in these little tubers act as prebiotic fiber for your gut. Prebiotics act as stimulants for the growth of good bacteria in your digestive tract. Think of it as fuel for the good bacteria!

This is important because good bacteria help protect your gut from harmful bacteria. Bad bacteria can be introduced to your body through poor diet, excessive alcohol use, cigarette smoking, and antibiotic use.

Resistance starches also add bulk to your stool, making it easier to go to the bathroom. So, if you struggle with constipation, tiger nuts can help alleviate those symptoms.

Tiger nuts can also reduce digestive issues like diarrhea, gas, and indigestion because of the enzymes they contain. These enzymes are amylases, catalases, and lipases.

Tiger nuts can also help you feel fuller for longer because of its vast amounts of dietary fiber. This can lead to weight loss, another critical part of preventing serious diseases like heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

6) Infections and Immunity

Another excellent health benefit of tiger nuts is their ability to improve your immune system.

When tiger nut extract was tested in a lab, researchers found that it was able to fight common bacteria that infect humans like Staphylococcus, E. coli, and salmonella. This means they can be a powerful tool to help fight serious diseases that harm humans and animals alike.

In addition to this, research has shown that tiger nuts can fight against strains of bacteria that have become resistant to antibiotics. This is excellent news if you live in a place where antibiotic-resistant diseases thrive, like in third world countries.

However, even if you don’t fear antibiotic resistance, boosting your immunity through healthy foods like tiger nuts is a good idea. It will help you stay healthy and lower your chances of getting sick.

7) Heart Health

As previously mentioned, tiger nuts are full of monounsaturated fats. These tiny tubers contain fat that is very similar to the fats in heart-healthy foods like olive oil.

As a result, tiger nuts may be able to lower the level of LDL (or bad) cholesterol and increase the HDL (or good) cholesterol in your body. Low LDL and high HDL levels are important indicators of heart health.

When your bad cholesterol levels are too high, you are at a much higher risk of developing heart disease, which can lead to heart attacks and strokes.

The amino acid arginine is also great for your heart! It helps our body produce nitric oxide, which helps both your arteries and veins dilate. When this happens, your blood pressure is reduced.

Tiger nuts can also reduce your risk of developing blood clots because they are linked to improved blood circulation.

How to Add Tiger Nuts to Your Diet

Tiger nuts can be eaten in a variety of ways. You can buy tiger nuts raw and eat them like nuts.

They naturally have a sweet flavor, so they taste great without needing to be cooked. One ounce of tiger nuts, or about 50 nuts, has 120 calories, making it a perfect snack.

Since you get to eat so many tiger nuts, you have a much larger chance of feeling full, as opposed to higher calorie nuts like almonds and walnuts.

Tiger nuts come both peeled and unpeeled, so be sure to note which type you buy before eating! Since tiger nuts are tubers, buying them peeled makes them softer and more comfortable to chew.

If you can, always try to buy organic tiger nuts. You can find lots of organic tiger nut treats at your local health food markets.

Shelf-stable tiger nuts have been dried so that they will last for a while. This is great because this yummy root vegetable is delicious when added to granola.

You can also mix tiger nuts with dried fruit to make your own trail mix as a snack on the go.

Ways to Consume Tiger Nuts

You can also consume tiger nuts as an ingredient in other foods. You can make tiger nut milk by soaking and blending the nuts. The pulp can then be made into tiger nut flour. You can even make tiger nut oil!

Tiger nut milk can be used as a substitute for regular milk and used in coffee, tea, cereal, and even ice cream. If you prefer, you can drink horchata to get your daily tiger nut intake.

Tiger nut flour has a sweet taste and is an excellent alternative for gluten-free baking or those who eat a paleo diet or plant-based diet.

You can make baked goods like cookies, nut bread, and pancakes without worrying about hurting anyone with nut allergies. Tiger nut flour can even be used as a binder in veggie burgers!

Tiger nut oil is a great substitute for cooking oils, like olive oil. Since tiger nut oils contain the same unsaturated fatty acids like olive oil, it’s just as healthy and can cook your food just as well. Like coconut oil, you won’t taste the sweet flavor, so you can use it whether you are making a sweet or savory dish.

Tiger nuts also taste great with chia seeds. The two textures and flavors complement each other. Tiger nut chia pudding is a delicious and nutritious treat with only a few ingredients.

Conclusion

Tiger nuts, or chufa nuts, are not a new food, but they may be new to you. Since these tubers have not been popular, many people do not eat them or understand their health benefits.

However, tiger nuts are a superfood and should be consumed by everyone. They are easy to incorporate in your diet, either through snacks or gluten-free baking. Or, you may choose to drink horchata or make tiger nut ice cream.

You don’t have to eat paleo or follow a special diet to incorporate tiger nuts into your foods. Although, if you are vegan, then consider eating tiger nuts often as they provide a great source of fat and dietary fiber to your diet!

As long as you enjoy the flavor of coconut and almonds, then you can eat tiger nuts! Begin looking for foods, drinks, and treats that list tiger nuts in their ingredients.

You can buy tiger nuts online or at any high-end grocery store. You’ll be able to improve your health while also enjoying a new, delicious food!

Sources

  1. Al-Shaikh, Mahera N, Wahab, Tala abdul altif Abdul, Kareem, Sahar H Abdul, Hamoud, S.R. . (2013). Protective effect of Chufa Tubers (Cyperus esculentus ) on induction of sperm abnormalities In mice treated with lead acetate. Available: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/287543618_Protective_effect_of_Chufa_Tubers_Cyperus_esculentus_on_induction_of_sperm_abnormalities_In_mice_treated_with_lead_acetate. Last accessed 17th Dec 2019.
  2. Carvalho DS, Diniz MM, Haidar AA, Cavanal MF, da Silva Alves E, Carpinelli AR, Gil FZ, Hirata AE. (2015). L-Arginine supplementation improves insulin sensitivity and beta cell function in the offspring of diabetic rats through AKT and PDX-1 activation. Available: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27717730. Last accessed 17th Dec 2019.
  3. Kashyap VS, Lakin RO, Campos P, Allemang M, Kim A, Sarac TP, Hausladen A, Stamler J. (2017). The LargPAD Trial: Phase IIA evaluation of l-arginine infusion in patients with peripheral arterial disease. Available: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28366306. Last accessed 17th Dec 2019.
  4. Muanya, Chukwuma. (2015). ‘Tiger nuts boost fertility in men, women’ by researchers. Available: https://guardian.ng/features/health/tiger-nuts-boost-fertility-in-men-women-by-researchers/. Last accessed 17th Dec 2019.
  5. Oluwajuyitan, Timilehin David and Ijrotimi, Oluwole Steve. (2019). Nutritional, antioxidant, glycaemic index and Antihyperglycaemic properties of improved traditional plantain-based (Musa AAB) dough meal enriched with tigernut (Cyperus esculentus) and defatted soybea. Available: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6475862/. Last accessed 17th Dec 2019.
  6. Prakash N, Ragavan B. (2009). Phytochemical observation and antibacterial activity of Cyperus esculentus L. Available: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22557327. Last accessed 17th Dec 2019.
  7. Sanchez-Zapata, Elena, Fernandez-Lopez, Juana, and Perez-Alvarez, Jose Angel. (2012). Tiger Nut (Cyperus esculentus) Commercialization: Health Aspects, Composition, Properties, and Food Applications. Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety. 11 (1), 366-377.

     

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