Tiger nuts are an important culinary and nutritive crop in various parts of the world and have been throughout history, but there are many surprising benefits of this popular tuber.
What are Tiger Nuts?
Tiger nuts are the edible tubers of the Cyperus esculentus plant, which has been cultivated for at least 9,000 years for its nutrient density and oils. These nuts aren’t actually nuts, although they are commonly referred to as earth almonds. While these plants are considered weeds in certain places, the dense nutrient profile of these tubers make them an important crop and source of starch – far more than sweet potatoes and regular potatoes.
Tiger Nuts Nutrition
In terms of nutritive value, tiger nuts also possess high levels of fiber, magnesium, potassium, and protein, as well as calcium, vitamin E, iron, and vitamin C. Their high starch content means a high carbohydrate level, and there are approximately 120 calories in one ounce of these nuts. There is also a good amount of healthy fats, primarily oleic and linoleic acid, which are healthy monounsaturated fats.
Tiger Nuts Benefits
The most impressive benefits of tiger nuts include their ability to improve cardiovascular health, reduce cholesterol levels, prevent diabetes, relieve headaches, and lower your risk of cancer, among others.
Potassium has a particularly high presence in these tubers, which is a natural vasodilator, and thus able to lower blood pressure and protect cardiovascular health.
There is a good amount of vitamin C in these tubers, which can provide a boost to the immune system.
With beneficial fats like oleic and linoleic fatty acids, these tubers can lower overall cholesterol levels and prevent cardiovascular disease.
Despite having a moderate amount of calories, the high fiber content can keep you feeling full, thus preventing overeating and snacking, and aiding weight loss efforts.
How to Eat Tiger Nuts?
While they are hard in texture and difficult to eat raw, after soaking them in water, they can be eaten easily, as well as roasted, dried, baked or turned into tiger nut milk.
- If you toast these tiny tubers, they can be chopped and sprinkled on salads or soups as a flavorful and nutritious burst.
- Perhaps the most famous use of tiger nuts, however, is in the creation of the Spanish drink – horchata – made with cinnamon, or perhaps even blended with dates.
- Mixing the tubers with nuts, chocolate, and dried fruit also makes for a delicious trail mix.
Tiger Nuts Side Effects
There are very few side effects of eating these nuts aside from the following:
- Gastrointestinal problems: If you consume too many of these tubers, the high level of dietary fiber could have a constipating effect, so be sure to consume these nuts in moderation.
- Potential allergic reactions: Allergies to these tubers are possible and may manifest as stomach issues, such as nausea, vomiting, or excess flatulence.