Tiger nuts, despite their name, are not nuts at all. These small, wrinkled, marble-sized wonders are the tuberous rhizomes of a sedge grass known as cyperus esculentus lativum, and they have been cultivated worldwide for thousands of years.
Resembling a delightful fusion of coconut and almond in flavor, tiger nuts derive their name from their tiger-striped exterior. They can be savored freshly dug from the ground, roasted, boiled, or even juiced. For convenience, they are also available in dried form for extended shelf life, as tiger nut flour, and as tiger nut milk. What makes them truly remarkable are their myriad health benefits.
Jack Sims, the founder of America’s pioneering tiger nut company, Supreme Peeled, notes, “Tiger nuts have been around for 4,000 years.” He attributes their popularity to their historical significance in human diets and their remarkable nutritional profile, characterized by high fiber content, low calories, and minimal fat.
Jemma Claire, co-founder of the UK-based wellness company Na’Vi Organics, has been offering tiger nuts for nearly three years. She emphasizes that tiger nuts are “rich in magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, vitamins C and E.” Some sources even suggest that they combat cellular aging by battling harmful free radicals, regulating blood pressure, and promoting a healthy digestive system. However, due to limited clinical trials involving humans, more research is needed to draw concrete conclusions.
So, what are the actual health benefits of tiger nuts?
We know that tiger nuts are exceptionally rich in resistant starch fiber, which has garnered attention for its potential to aid in weight loss.
Resistant starch resists digestion in the stomach and small intestine, possibly facilitating weight loss by regulating blood sugar levels and prolonging the feeling of fullness. Furthermore, it acts as a prebiotic, promoting the growth of beneficial gut bacteria.
Jaclyn London, MS, RD, CDN, underscores the importance of a healthy gut as the first line of defense for the immune system, making tiger nuts a valuable addition to one’s diet. Due to their abundant resistant starch content, consuming even a single serving can substantially benefit gut health.
In terms of nutritional content, an ounce of plain, raw tiger nuts, roughly equivalent to 50 chickpea-sized pieces, contains 120 calories, 10 grams of fiber, 9 grams of natural sugars, an array of essential vitamins and minerals like magnesium and iron, and 7 grams of fat, primarily oleic acid, a monounsaturated fat associated with appetite reduction and weight loss. In comparison, a serving of almonds, approximately 23 nuts, provides 163 calories and significantly less filling fiber than tiger nuts.
Are there any downsides to tiger nuts?
Individuals with digestive conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or sensitivities to high-fiber foods may experience gas, bloating, cramps, or diarrhea if tiger nuts are consumed excessively, warns Consalvo. Raw tiger nuts also contain higher levels of anti-nutrients like phytates, oxalates, saponins, and tannins, which can limit the absorption of vitamins and minerals by the gut. However, soaking, boiling, or toasting tiger nuts can enhance their nutritional value.
So, how should you enjoy tiger nuts?
Tiger nuts are remarkably versatile and can be incorporated into various culinary creations:
1. Whole Tiger Nuts
Enjoy them as a wholesome snack, either peeled or unpeeled, with the peeled version being slightly softer and easier to eat.
2. Tiger Nut Milk
Make your own dairy-free tiger nut milk by blending soaked tiger nuts with water and vanilla beans. Strain the mixture using a nut milk bag or cheesecloth. The remaining pulp can be repurposed into tiger nut flour.
3. Tiger Nut Chia Pudding
Use tiger nut milk to prepare chia pudding or add it to cereals and oatmeal for a subtly sweet flavor.
4. Tiger Nut Flour
Repurpose leftover tiger nut pulp into flour by dehydrating it. Tiger nut flour is similar to almond flour, imparting moisture and a touch of sweetness to recipes.
5. Tiger Nut Cookies
Tiger nut flour makes an excellent choice for gluten-free baking, such as chocolate chip cookies.
6. Tiger Nut Pancakes
Whip up gluten-free, moist, and flavorful pancakes using tiger nut flour.
7. Tiger Nut Ice Cream
Craft creamy non-dairy ice cream with tiger nut milk as a base.
8. Tiger Nut Bread
Incorporate tiger nut flour to add moisture and fiber to both sweet and savory baked goods.
9. Tiger Nut Burgers
Create gluten-free veggie burgers using tiger nuts as a binding ingredient.
Tiger nuts, with their impressive nutritional profile and culinary versatility, are indeed micro-powerhouses of wellness. Whether enjoyed as a snack, milk, flour, or ingredient in various recipes, these tiny tubers offer a host of health benefits for those seeking a well-rounded diet.