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By Florencia Tagliavini, Nutritionist
Have you heard of tiger nuts?
It's one of those foods that has not become super popular yet but is making it's way into the health food market. In Spain, they're known as "chufa" and are mostly popular for the creation of a sweet milk beverage called "Horchata de Chufa".
Tiger nuts, are not in fact nuts, but small tubers that grow in the ground. They are sweet-tasting - some describe them as having a flavor reminiscent of both coconut and almond. They can be enjoyed on their own as a snack, used to make a milk beverage, or used for baking breads & cookies anything else with its flour.Nutritional composition and benefits
Per 1 ounce serving:
- 140 calories
- 18 g carbohydrates
- 1.2 g protein
- 7 g fat
- 10 g of fiber
Their macronutrient composition is comparable to other tubers (lower in calories, protein, fat and higher in carbohydrates than nuts). However, the type of heart-healthy fats, some vitamins, minerals and other nutrients as well as the culinary uses are similar to nuts.
High fiber content and resistant starch
With about 10 g per 1 ounce serving, this is way more fiber than almonds, oat bran and many vegetables. It provides you with almost half of your daily requirement!
Fiber is a very important nutrient for health - it can help you stay full for longer, aid in weight loss, maintain digestive health, prevent heart disease & diabetes.
Some of the carbohydrates in these tubers act as resistant starch, which has a similar effect as fiber - working as a prebiotic to provide energy for good gut bacteria that help keep your digestive tract running smoothly and prevent disease.
Healthy monounsaturated fat profile
75% of the fat is oleic acid, similar to the heart-healthy fat found in olive oil and 9-19% is linoleic acid. These healthy types of fat may help lower your risk of heart disease by improving your risk factors (lowering your total and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or "bad" cholesterol levels but maintaining your high-density lipoprotein (HDL) or "good" cholesterol levels).
A good source of vitamins and minerals
These little tubers contain phosphorus, potassium, calcium, magnesium, iron, vitamin C and E as well as other vitamins and minerals.
- They are gluten free and can be enjoyed by people who have nut allergies. There has rarely been a reported allergy, despite the fact that tiger nuts and tiger nut milk are widely consumed in some areas.
- Tiger nuts provide some digestive enzymes like catalase, lipase, and amylase so they can be consumed by people who have heavy digestions, flatulence, and diarrhea.
- Studies show that tiger nuts have low levels of anti-nutrients like phytic acid compared to other nuts, tubers, etc.
- One study showed that Cyperus esculentus (tiger nuts) actually had bacteria-fighting effects on several dangerous human pathogens, including salmonella and E coli. However, more research is needed.
Who is it for?
- A good option for anyone who suffers from nut allergies.
- Anyone who is on a paleo, low FODMAP, vegan, gluten free, plant-based, gut health, whole food, or weight loss diet or just wants to enjoy the nutritional qualities and sweet taste of tiger nuts.
- A good option for diabetics since they are a low-glycemic carb and due to it's arginine content which liberates hormones that produce insulin.
Tiger nuts are a whole, raw, natural and nutrient dense food. Lower in calories than nuts and rich in fiber, they can aid in weigh loss, maintain blood sugar levels stable, help curb cravings, support digestion, promote heart health and help maintain your body disease free.
More great articles on tiger nuts:
See the video here by The Allergy Chef making Tiger Nut Milk in The NutraMilk:
- E. Sanchez-Zapata, J. Fernandez-Lopez, and J. Angel Perez- Alvarez. Tiger Nut (Cyperus esculentus) commercialization: health aspects, composition, properties, and food applications. Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety; vol. 11, no. 4, pp. 366-377, 2012.
- M.A. Belewu, K.Y. Belewu. Comparative Physico-Chemical Evaluation of Tiger-nut, Soybean and Coconut Milk Sources. International Journal Of Agriculture & Biology; vol 9, no 5, 2007.
- Souleymane Bado, Patrice Bazongo, Gouyahali Son, et al. Physicochemical Characteristics and Composition of Three Morphotypes of Cyperus esculentus Tubers and Tuber Oils. Journal of Analytical Methods in Chemistry. Vol 2015.
- Gambo, A, Dau, A. Tiger Nut (Cyperus Esculentus): Composition, Products, UsesAnd Health Benefits - A Review. Bayero Journal of Pure and Applied Sciences; 7(1): 56-61, 2014.