Tiger nuts are not actually nuts, but rather edible tubers that grow underground. They have a sweet, nutty flavor and a chewy texture, similar to coconut. Tiger nuts have been cultivated since ancient times in Egypt and other parts of Africa, Europe, and the Mediterranean, where they are used as food and medicine. Tiger nuts are rich in fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and other beneficial plant compounds. They have been linked to several health benefits, such as improved digestion, reduced risk of heart disease, and antibacterial properties. Here, I will explore the nutrition facts and health benefits of tiger nuts, as well as how to prepare and enjoy them.
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Nutrition Facts of Tiger Nuts
According to the USDA FoodData Central database, one ounce (28 grams) of raw tiger nuts provides the following nutrients:
- Calories: 143
- Fiber: 9 grams
- Carbs: 19 grams
- Protein: 1 gram
- Fat: 7 grams
- Iron: 1–2% of the Daily Value (DV)
- Phosphorus: 5–6% of the DV
- Vitamin C: 2–8% of the DV
- Magnesium: 7% of the DV
- Zinc: 5–7% of the DV
- Potassium: 3–5% of the DV
- Calcium: 1% of the DV
Tiger nuts are also a rich source of antioxidants, which are compounds that protect your cells from oxidative stress and inflammation. Antioxidants may help prevent or delay chronic diseases, such as cancer, diabetes, and heart disease.
Some of the antioxidants found in tiger nuts include:
- Vitamin E: A fat-soluble vitamin that protects cell membranes from free radical damage and supports immune function and skin health.
- Phenolic compounds: A group of plant chemicals that have anti-inflammatory, anticancer, antidiabetic, and cardioprotective effects. Some of the phenolic compounds in tiger nuts are catechin, chlorogenic acid, p-coumaric acid, ferulic acid, and vanillic acid.
- Phytosterols: Plant-derived compounds that resemble cholesterol in structure and can lower blood cholesterol levels by inhibiting its absorption in the gut. Some of the phytosterols in tiger nuts are beta-sitosterol, stigmasterol, and campesterol.
Tiger nuts also contain enzymes that may aid digestion, such as catalase, lipase, and amylase. These enzymes help break down fats, starches, and sugars in your food, reducing gas, bloating, and indigestion.
However, tiger nuts also contain some antinutrients, such as phytates, oxalates, saponins, and tannins. Antinutrients are substances that can interfere with the absorption or utilization of nutrients in your body. For example, phytates can bind to minerals like iron and zinc and reduce their availability.
Fortunately, you can reduce the antinutrient content of tiger nuts by soaking, sprouting, or roasting them before eating. These methods can also enhance their flavor and texture.
Health Benefits of Tiger Nuts:
Tiger nuts have been used for centuries as a traditional remedy for various ailments. Modern research has also confirmed some of their health benefits. Here are some of the potential benefits of eating tiger nuts:
May improve digestion
Tiger nuts are a good source of insoluble fiber, which adds bulk to your stools and helps food move through your gut more easily. This can prevent or relieve constipation and promote regular bowel movements.
Tiger nuts also contain resistant starch, a type of fiber that resists digestion in your small intestine and reaches your large intestine intact. There, it feeds the beneficial bacteria in your gut microbiome, which produce short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) as a byproduct. SCFAs have anti-inflammatory effects and may protect against colon cancer, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), ulcerative colitis, and Crohn’s disease.
Moreover, tiger nuts may help prevent or treat diarrhea by inhibiting the growth of harmful bacteria in your gut. One study found that tiger nut extracts had antibacterial activity against E. coli , S. aureus , and Salmonella sp., which are common causes of foodborne infections. However, more human studies are needed to confirm the effects of tiger nuts on gut health.
May lower blood pressure
High blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke. Tiger nuts may help lower blood pressure by increasing nitric oxide production in your blood vessels. Nitric oxide is a molecule that relaxes and widens your blood vessels, allowing blood to flow more easily and reducing pressure.
One study in 20 healthy adults found that drinking tiger nut milk for four weeks significantly reduced systolic blood pressure (the top number of a reading) by 10 mmHg, compared to a control drink.
Another study in 50 people with high cholesterol found that eating 30 grams of tiger nuts daily for eight weeks lowered systolic blood pressure by 6 mmHg and diastolic blood pressure (the bottom number of a reading) by 3 mmHg, compared to a control group.
However, more studies are needed to determine the optimal dose and duration of tiger nut consumption for blood pressure control.
May support heart health
Tiger nuts may also benefit your heart health by improving your blood lipid profile. Blood lipids are fats that circulate in your blood, such as cholesterol and triglycerides. High levels of these fats can increase your risk of heart disease and stroke.
Tiger nuts are rich in monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs), which are considered healthy fats for your heart. MUFAs can lower total and LDL (bad) cholesterol levels and increase HDL (good) cholesterol levels, reducing the buildup of plaque in your arteries.
Tiger nuts also contain phytosterols, which can lower cholesterol levels by blocking its absorption in your gut. One study found that eating 30 grams of tiger nuts daily for eight weeks reduced total and LDL cholesterol levels by 7% and 8%, respectively, compared to a control group.
Additionally, tiger nuts are a good source of magnesium, potassium, and vitamin C, which are minerals and antioxidants that can protect your blood vessels from damage and inflammation.
May have aphrodisiac effects:
Some people claim that tiger nuts can enhance sexual performance and fertility, especially in men. However, there is little scientific evidence to support this claim. One animal study found that feeding male rats with tiger nut extract for eight weeks increased their sexual behavior and sperm count, as well as reduced sperm abnormalities. The researchers suggested that the antioxidants and amino acids in tiger nuts may be responsible for these effects.
Another animal study found that feeding female rats with tiger nut extract for six weeks improved their ovarian function and increased their litter size. The researchers attributed these effects to the phytoestrogens in tiger nuts, which are plant compounds that mimic the female hormone estrogen.
However, these studies were conducted in rats and may not apply to humans. More research is needed to determine whether eating tiger nuts can improve sexual health and fertility in humans.
May have anti-inflammatory effects:
Chronic inflammation is associated with many diseases, such as arthritis, obesity, cancer, and autoimmune disorders. Tiger nuts may help reduce inflammation by modulating your immune system and inhibiting the production of pro-inflammatory molecules, such as cytokines and prostaglandins.
One study in rats with arthritis found that feeding them with tiger nut extract for 21 days reduced joint swelling, pain, and inflammation markers, compared to a control group.
Another study in mice with colitis found that feeding them with tiger nut extract for seven days reduced colon inflammation and damage, compared to a control group. However, human studies are lacking on the anti-inflammatory effects of tiger nuts. More research is needed to determine whether eating tiger nuts can help prevent or treat inflammatory conditions in humans.
How to Prepare and Eat Tiger Nuts
Tiger nuts can be eaten raw or cooked, depending on your preference and availability. Raw tiger nuts have a crunchy texture and a sweet, nutty flavor. Cooked tiger nuts have a softer texture and a more caramelized flavor.
You can find raw or dried tiger nuts online or in some health food stores. Dried tiger nuts are usually soaked in water for 12 to 24 hours before eating to rehydrate them and make them easier to chew. You can also sprout or roast them for extra flavor and crunch.
You can eat tiger nuts as a snack or add them to salads, granola bars, smoothies, or baked goods. You can also make tiger nut milk by blending soaked tiger nuts with water and straining the mixture. Tiger nut milk is a dairy-free alternative to cow’s milk that has a creamy texture and a sweet taste. Another popular way to use tiger nuts is to grind them into flour. Tiger nut flour is gluten-free and grain-free, making it suitable for people with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity. You can use tiger nut flour to make pancakes, muffins, cookies, bread, or pizza crust.
Tiger nuts are nutritious tubers that have been used for centuries as food and medicine. They are rich in fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and other beneficial plant compounds. They have been linked to several health benefits, such as improved digestion, lower blood pressure, better heart health, enhanced sexual performance and fertility, and reduced inflammation.
Tiger nuts can be eaten raw or cooked, or processed into flour or milk. They have a sweet, nutty flavor and a chewy texture. You can enjoy them as a snack or add them to various recipes.
However, tiger nuts also contain some antinutrients that can impair nutrient absorption. You can reduce their antinutrient content by soaking, sprouting, or roasting them before eating. You should also eat them in moderation as part of a balanced diet, as they are high in calories and fat.
Tiger nuts are a delicious and healthy addition to your diet. They may offer many benefits for your health and well-being.
What are the side effects of tiger nuts?
Tiger nuts are generally safe and well-tolerated by most people. However, some people may experience some side effects, such as:
- Allergic reactions: Some people may be allergic to tiger nuts or their products. Symptoms of an allergic reaction may include hives, itching, swelling, difficulty breathing, nausea, vomiting, or anaphylaxis (a severe and potentially life-threatening reaction).
- Gas and bloating: Tiger nuts are high in fiber, which can cause gas and bloating in some people, especially if they are not used to eating high-fiber foods. To avoid this, you should start with small portions of tiger nuts and increase gradually. You should also drink plenty of water to help fiber move through your gut.
- Kidney stones: Tiger nuts are high in oxalates, which are compounds that can bind to calcium in your urine and form kidney stones. People who have a history of kidney stones or a high risk of developing them should limit their intake of oxalate-rich foods like tiger nuts.
How many tiger nuts should you eat per day?
There is no official recommendation on how many tiger nuts you should eat per day. However, you should eat them in moderation as part of a balanced diet. One ounce (28 grams) of raw tiger nuts provides about 143 calories and 7 grams of fat (1). Eating too many tiger nuts may lead to weight gain or excessive intake of calories or fat.
A reasonable portion size for tiger nuts may be around one-fourth cup (30 grams) per day. This would provide about 120 calories and 6 grams of fat (29). You can adjust your portion size according to your calorie needs and preferences.
How do you store tiger nuts?
Tiger nuts can be stored in different ways depending on their form and freshness. Here are some tips on how to store tiger nuts:
- Raw tiger nuts: If you buy fresh raw tiger nuts from a local market or farm, you should wash them thoroughly and dry them completely before storing them. You can store them in an airtight container in a cool, dry place for up to six months. You can also refrigerate or freeze them for longer shelf life (30).
- Dried tiger nuts: If you buy dried tiger nuts from online or health food stores, you should check the expiration date on the package and store them in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight. You can also refrigerate or freeze them for longer shelf life.
- Tiger nut flour: If you buy or make tiger nut flour, you should store it in an airtight container in a cool, dry place for up to three months. You can also refrigerate or freeze it for longer shelf life.
Tiger nut milk: If you buy or make tiger nut milk, you should store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to five days. You can also freeze it for up to three months. You should shake it well before using it, as it may separate over time.
Are tiger nuts good for weight loss?
Tiger nuts may help with weight loss by increasing your feeling of fullness and reducing your appetite. This is because they are high in fiber, which slows down digestion and keeps you satisfied for longer. One study found that eating 40 grams of tiger nuts before breakfast reduced hunger and calorie intake throughout the day.
However, tiger nuts are also high in calories and fat, so you should eat them in moderation as part of a balanced diet. One ounce (28 grams) of raw tiger nuts provides about 143 calories and 7 grams of fat. Eating too many tiger nuts may lead to weight gain instead of weight loss.
Are tiger nuts good for diabetes?
Tiger nuts may help with diabetes management by improving blood sugar control and insulin sensitivity. This is because they are rich in resistant starch, which does not raise blood sugar levels as much as other types of carbs. Resistant starch also stimulates the production of GLP-1, a hormone that regulates insulin secretion and lowers blood sugar levels.
One study in 50 people with high cholesterol found that eating 30 grams of tiger nuts daily for eight weeks reduced fasting blood sugar levels by 5%, compared to a control group.
Another study in 20 healthy adults found that drinking tiger nut milk for four weeks improved insulin sensitivity by 13%, compared to a control drink.
Insulin sensitivity is a measure of how well your cells respond to insulin, a hormone that regulates blood sugar levels. Low insulin sensitivity or insulin resistance can lead to high blood sugar levels and increase the risk of type 2 diabetes. Therefore, tiger nuts may help prevent or manage diabetes by improving blood sugar control and insulin sensitivity. However, more studies are needed to confirm these effects and determine the optimal dose and duration of tiger nut consumption for diabetes.