With the stripes of a tiger, these delicious little nuggets are actually tubers, not nuts! Find out all about tiger nut benefits for your health.January 14, 2021 10:37 am
Tiger, tiger, burning bright…
Here in the UK, the tiger nut has not quite gained its rightful place on the podium of health foods yet. Here at Erbology we’re determined to do something about that!
Tiger nuts, despite their name, are neither a nut or related in any way to the tiger. (We like to think that they embody a bit of the energy and spirit of the king of the jungle, however.) Rather, they are little tubers which grow underground. The plant itself is a sedge grass, sometimes known as water grass, yellow nut-grass, or flat edge.
Tiger nuts get their name from their stripy outer coating. Similarly, they gained the biologically inaccurate name of tiger ‘nuts’ because the tubers themselves are brown and wrinkled, like an almond. Indeed, they are so similar in flavour and texture to nuts that in some parts of the world, they are known as ‘earth almonds’.
The leaves of the plant are as fierce as its namesake; vibrant green, in the shape of fearsome spikes.
Egyptian sarcophagi have contained tiger nuts, along with other treasured possessions of the dead. Tiger nuts are enjoyed in Africa, as they have been for many centuries, as well as by Native Americans.
During the 1970s, tiger nuts were sold in Asian shops in the UK. They contain a fantastic array of essential nutrients and are thought to be restorative. Tiger nuts come in yellow, brown, or black. Yellow tiger nut is the most common variety eaten around the world.
Tigernuts arrived in Europe by way of Arabs who found themselves in the Iberian Peninsula. Subsequently, people began to farm and harvest the tubers in Valencia, Spain. The Spanish name for tiger nuts is ‘chufas’..
If you are a fan of the delicious Spanish drink, horchata, then you will already be familiar with the tiger nut. This cinnamon-scented creamy drink is made with tiger nut milk, although some Mexican varieties use more readily available rice milk. Refreshing, gently sweet and surprisingly good for you, with its dose of essential minerals, we adore a cooling horchata on a hot day. Tiger nut milk itself has a nutty, mellow and very pleasant flavour.
Farmers in the United States mainly use tiger nut to feed livestock, whereas some cultures think of it as a weed. Fortunately, this is likely to change with its newfound popularity! In rural Brazil, meanwhile, tiger nuts are an aphrodisiac or are used to treat venomous bites and stings from rainforest creatures.
Ways to eat tiger nuts
The flavour brings to mind coconuts, pecans, or almonds, making it wonderfully versatile as an ingredient. Much like these nuts, you can make an enormous variety of ingredients from the humble tiger nut, including gluten-free tiger nut flour, tiger nut milk, tiger nut butter, tiger nut smoothies, even creamy tiger nut ice cream!
At Erbology, we love to create our own horchata-inspired milkshake with tiger nut milk, dates and coconut.
You can enjoy tiger nuts right out of the ground, or you could roast or boil raw tiger nuts. They also make a great snack, alongside raisins and apricots in a handful of dried fruit If you prefer a softer texture, simply soak the dried tiger nuts for a few hours.
We love toasting tiger nuts and scattering them on top of salads or soups as an alternative to seeds.
What are the benefits of eating tiger nut?
Tiger nuts boast an impressive number of benefits for your health.
Firstly, tigernuts are prebiotic. This means they are made up of resistant starch fibres which your body isn’t able to digest itself, but which can be broken down by the beneficial bacteria in your gut. This, in turn, keeps your gut microbiome healthy and nourished and stabilises your hunger levels.
Secondly, research suggests that the fibre contained in tigernuts may be able to help your body absorb bad cholesterol.(1)
All of this makes tiger nuts a perfect base for our delicious range of granolas. We use a base of tiger nut and gut-friendly buckwheat before adding delicious flavours like Nopal Cactus and Chia, or Jerusalem Artichoke and Raw Cacao. Not only is it a tasty way to start the day, our granola is also healthy for your gut and will keep you feeling full for longer.
If that wasn’t enough to convince you, tiger nuts are also a source of iron, magnesium and plant-based proteins. In terms of nut milks, tiger milk comes out well on top in terms of protein, with six times more than rice or coconut milk.
What’s more, they provide a wide array of healthy fats like oleic and linoleic fatty acids, as well as calcium and vitamins C and E. Their nutritional value combined with their versatility makes tiger nuts a fantastic addition to your pantry, especially if you’re trying to move towards a more plant-based diet.(2)(3)
Tiger nuts also contain potassium, which naturally opens up blood vessels. As such, chufas are good choices for people seeking to lower their blood pressure and promote heart health through a healthy diet.(4)
The complex carbohydrates in tiger nuts mean that they release energy slowly, without any sugar spikes or crashes. This means they can help control unhealthy blood sugar levels in diabetics and help people maintain a healthy weight.(5)
You can use tiger nut oil in a similar way to olive oil, however tiger nut oil is higher in phytosterols. These plant-based compounds are similar to cholesterol in animal fats, but phytosterols actually help lower bad cholesterol.(6)
Studies also show that tigernut oil is anti-inflammatory and can ease migraines and severe headaches.(7) Is there anything this tiger-striped tuber can’t do?
"The complex carbohydrates in tiger nuts mean that they release energy slowly, without any sugar spikes or crashes. This means they can help control unhealthy blood sugar levels in diabetics and help people maintain a healthy weight."
No less than the World Health Organisation concludes that tiger nuts provide our recommended daily essential amino acids,(8) These little molecules are the building blocks for protein structures. While our bodies can synthesise some of them, we can’t make our own ‘essential’ amino acids and instead have to acquire them through our diet.
There is also some evidence that tiger nuts may help fight malignant cells. Scientists note that phytochemicals in tiger nuts may lower the risk of colon cancer, which is one of the most formidable types of cancer. In addition, they also have the ability to combat damage to the liver from various sources.(9)
A few things to watch out for
Given all their impressive benefits, the downsides of the tiger nut are few and far between! However, there are a few things to bear in mind if you’re trying them for the first time.
Like any fibre-packed food, eating a lot of tiger nuts can result in issues with your digestion, including constipation. This is especially true if you already frequently suffer from tummy trouble. If you’re introducing tiger nuts to your diet, try adding a few here and there, and then increasing the amount slowly. This should avoid any digestive issues.
Some people may be allergic to tiger nuts and reactions including flatulence, nausea, or vomiting have been observed.
Key tiger nut benefits
- Source of iron and magnesium
- Contains slow release carbs which keep you sated and satisfied for longer
- Source of fibre which has prebiotic properties
- Provides essential amino acids
- Promotes heart health
- Contains potent phytochemicals which combat liver damage
The tiger nuts in Erbology products are certified organic. No added sugar, additives, or preservatives are used in their preparation. In addition, they are raw, vegan, gluten-free, and utterly delicious.
Tigernut in the Erbology kitchen…..
As well as being a delicious snack on its own, our Organic Tigernut Granola lends itself very nicely to some special recipes. Here, we have one for every season of the year!
In autumn, we find ourselves longing for pumpkin pie made with a Nopal Tigernut Granola no-bake crust. Its rich, spiced filling complements the chewiness of the tiger nut crust. For us, it’s the culinary equivalent of sliding into a steaming, warm bath. The only danger with this dish is that you want to keep it all to yourself!
Our streusel muffins with Chocolate Tigernut Granola are warming, cosy and designed to share. So much so, that, come winter, we recommend making them for friends and family as part of your holiday baking. They’re sure to go down a treat with your guests.
When the sun starts to peek through in spring, it will probably be this delicious fruit and chia parfait with Sea Buckthorn Tigernut Granola that calls our name. The turmeric chia pudding layer is earthy and poignant, energising and soothing.
Indulgent, healthy snacks
On those summer days when it’s really, really hot, the addition of Erbology Tigernut Granola to fresh fruit pops brings novelty and texture. They are breakfast-themed and full of healthy ingredients like fresh berries. In other words, it is certainly acceptable to eat them before 10am.
For the winter, you’ll need the richest, darkest chocolate for those (brilliant) dark, wet days spent sitting on the sofa covered in woolly rugs, reading and munching. Our recipe for a raw dark chocolate bar introduces tiger nut granola for texture. Think of it as a healthy substitution for puffed rice in those milk chocolate bars you ate as a child. Coconut flakes and raw pumpkin seeds make lovely finishing touches.
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