Inside Scoop: The amazing little known health benefits of tiger nuts, a source of nutrition for the earliest humans.
This post was submitted by Paul Johnson, freelance writer with over 16 years’ experience in writing about Naturopathy covering health, nutrition, fitness and general wellness.
If someone approached you and said, I have something for you that’s a rich source of vitamin A, B, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, ascorbic acid (Vitamin C), Tocopherol (Vitamin E), dietary fibre as well as fats like oleic acid and protein.
And, it’s also proven useful for weight-loss, fertility, and has numerous benefits during pregnancy, you’d be forgiven for thinking they would be talking about some super multi-vitamin pill that you haven’t somehow heard about.
What we are talking about though is the ever increasingly popular superfood called the tiger nut.
What Are Tiger Nuts?
Tiger nut (Cyperus esculentus) is not actually a nut. They are classified as tubers that start growth under the dirt and are classed under the sedge family, also known as tiger nutsedge, yellow nutsedge, or earth almond.
Scientists have come to understand that tiger nuts were a source of nutrition for the earliest humans and before.
Fondly known to us as the ‘Nutcracker Man’, archaeologists infer indications that tiger nuts were being utilised during the Palaeolithic period as proven by studies on Paranthropus boisei “Nutcracker Man’. His body was found and identified as an early hominine, who lived in Eastern Africa from about 2.3 until about 1.2 million years ago. It is widely considered at the time to be the primary source of nutrition and vitamins eaten by our very distant ancestors as concluded by a University of Oxford study. How cool is that?
Where are they grown?
Tiger nuts grow in many regions of the world including Africa, Europe and Asia and are often referred to as a weed in some parts of the world.
Ways of incorporating the nut into your diet include eating them whole as a snack, using tiger nut flour, adding them to snacks and desserts or by blending them to make delicious tiger nut milk.
The Health Benefits of Tiger Nuts
HIGH IN INSOLUBLE FIBER
The US National Library of Medicine has documented that 100g of tiger nut flour contains around 59.71g of dietary fibre.
The most significant finding was that it’s high in insoluble fibre which makes our fiber friendly friends list that also includes foods such as carrots, cabbage, chia seeds, oats and apples. This insoluble fiber helps to bulk up stool so it’s easier to pass and can be very helpful with constipation.
A diet high in fibre during pregnancy has been observed to reduce preeclampsia and cardiovascular risks. The University of California San Francisco recommends that pregnant women eat between 20-35 grams per day.
IDEAL FOR ANYONE WITH LACTOSE INTOLERANCE
For those who are lactose intolerant and unable to consume cow’s milk, this is an ideal substitute and a healthy option. If you compare all non-dairy milk alternatives, this one has the highest nutritional, healthy fat and fiber content.
It’s also a good source of calcium, and can be one nutritious food to help achieve the 1,000 to 1,300 mg dairy recommended calcium intake.
CARDIOVASCULAR DISEASE PROTECTION
The National Health Institute indicates vitamin E is an antioxidant-rich fat-soluble compound important for repairing free radical damage, a healthy immune system and important in blood vessel and heart health. Food is preferred to supplements when it comes to vitamin E, and tiger nuts have vitamin E in abundance in both milk and flour form.
BOOST GOOD CHOLESTEROL
The word cholesterol makes most of us panic, but we all need cholesterol to survive and the right types of cholesterol are important for our health.
For example, oleic acid a type of monounsaturated fatty acid (MUFA) found in tiger nuts (the same one that’s also in avocados and olive oil) assists in increasing the “happy” HDL cholesterol, essential for mother and baby during the nine months.
Did you know that the oils that you cook with can have a big impact on cholesterol? Download the Best Oils for Cooking Cheat Sheet below and get the list of the healthiest oils to cook with and what to look for on the bottle label to ensure you’re getting what you pay for.
EXCELLENT SOURCE OF MAGNESIUM
Magnesium can carry out over 300 vital biochemical tasks in the body according to the Office of Dietary Supplements.
A 100 grams of tiger nuts provide up to 17 percent magnesium, helping promote the standard function of nerves, maintain blood pressure levels, control sugars and strengthen bones.
AID DIGESTION AND GUT HEALTH
As we have learned the health benefits of tiger nuts are many, making them a fantastic food for anyone. In Asia and Africa where tiger nuts are most prevalent, they have been used to treat ailments for the stomach, irritable bowel syndrome, and cover a wide range of digestive complaints. Outside the medical system and in medication passed down through generations, tiger nuts have been known to aid in the treatment of flatulence and diarrhoea.
This could be due to the fact that those little tubers are rich in resistance starch that acts as a prebiotic to help feed our gut flora and maintain a healthy digestive system.
We all understand that during pregnancy digestive problems can occur, so a regular intake of tiger nuts will be of benefit.
Where Can I Find Tiger Nut Products?
You can find this superfood in its whole form, as a flour or even as tiger nut butter at your local health food store or on Amazon below.
There you have it; these are some of the amazing health benefits of tiger nuts. Have you ever tried tiger nuts or will you give them a try now?
And make sure to download the Best Oils for Cooking Cheat Sheet below and get the list of the healthiest oils to cook and the ones to avoid.
Paul Johnson is a freelance writer with over 16 years’ experience in writing about Naturopathy covering health, nutrition, fitness and general wellness, is currently working as an author with MerridyCasson.com.au posting regularly about Nutritionist Adelaide.