5 reasons why you should start eating tiger nuts.
Yellow nutsedge (Cyperus esculentus) is a perennial grass-like plant that grows up to three feet tall. Also known as chufa sedge, earth almond, and nut grass, the simple and unassuming foliage of C. esculentus is often mistaken for a weed. Beneath the soil, however, are a vast network of rhizomes, tubers, and basal bulbs; a single yellow nutsedge plant can produce anywhere from hundreds to thousands of tubers per season.
Yellow nutsedge is cultivated for these edible tubers – called “tiger nuts” because of their striped appearance. Despite its name, tiger nuts are not nuts but fleshy tubers that are dried for up to three months after harvest. The drying process makes them quite hard but they may be eaten as is or soaked in water to soften them and enhance their nutty and sweet flavor.
If you haven’t heard of tiger nuts before, read on to learn all about the benefits of this non-nut:
1. Tiger Nuts Are A Healthful Snack
Nutrition wise, tiger nuts offer a little bit of everything. Per ounce, tiger nuts provide 10 grams of dietary fiber, 7 grams of fat, 2 grams of protein, and 215 mg of potassium. At only 120 calories per serving, tiger nuts also contain 10% iron, 7% magnesium, 7% zinc, 3% calcium, 5% vitamin B6, 3% vitamin E, and 3% vitamin C.
2. Tiger Nuts Are An Excellent Source Of Prebiotic Fiber
Not to be confused with probiotics, which are foods that introduce live microorganisms to the digestive system to benefit overall health, prebiotics are defined as non-digestible fiber that “feed” these good bacteria and stimulate their activity.
Like probiotics, prebiotic fiber confers myriad benefits to the host. In addition to enhancing gut micro flora, it protects against cardiovascular diseases, lowers “bad” cholesterol without affecting “good” cholesterol levels, and has been shown to prevent diabetes. It also promotes regular bowel movements, keeps us feeling fuller for longer, and can help us lose weight.
3. Tiger Nuts Are Rich In Fatty Acids & Antioxidants
Although tiger nuts are not part of the nut family, they share characteristics of both tubers and nuts. Like potatoes, yams, and other tubers, tiger nuts are plentiful in carbohydrates like fiber. And like nuts, tiger nuts provide a good source of lipids and protein.
Composed of around 25% oil, tiger nuts also provide a range of fatty acids. Nearly 80% of its oil content is monounsaturated fatty acids, a healthy kind of fat that is high in vitamin E with benefits for the immune system and cardiovascular health.
With a similar fat profile as olive oil and avocado oil, tiger nuts are enriched with palmitic, stearic, oleic, and linoleic acids. In in vitro and in vivo experiments on tiger nut oil, researchers found it had good antioxidant activity and free radical scavenging capacity.
4. Tiger Nuts Possess Strong Antibacterial Properties
The presence of flavonoids, tannins, phenolics, and alkaloids in tiger nuts has shown strong antimicrobial activity against several human pathogens.
The 2009 in vitro study found tiger nut extracts were effective against E. coli, Staphylococcus aureus, and Salmonella sp. as well as Klebsiella pneumoniae which can cause respiratory infections like bronchitis and pneumonia, and Proteus vulgaris, a bacterium that commonly causes urinary tract infections and obstructions.
What these pathogens share in common is a growing resistance to traditional antibiotics. But by eating foods that boost the immune system, we can lessen our reliance on antibiotic therapies – which in turn, could help limit the rise of drug-resistant microbes.
5. Tiger Nuts Are A Great Option For People With Food Allergies
Because tiger nuts provide the nutritional qualities of nuts without being “true” nuts, they can be safely consumed by those with tree nut and peanut allergies.
In places like Spain and Mexico, the most popular way to consume tiger nuts is by making horchata de chufa or sweetened tiger nut milk. On its own or mixed with smoothies or coffee, tiger nut milk offers an option for people with dairy allergies and lactose intolerance.