Tiger nut: nutrients, benefits and how to add to the diet

Do you want to include tiger nut in your diet? To enjoy it and take advantage of it in your kitchen, we explain what benefits you get from eating it and how to prepare it.

Last update: October 31, 2021

Sometimes, the names of some foods lead you to think what it is not and you are even surprised by its true origin. One of them is the tiger nut, also known as yellow coquillo, tigernuts or ground almonds. Anyone would imagine a dried fruit that looks like a tiger.

The truth is that it is a tuber or a stem, as well as the potato, which grows underground in the plant Cyperus esculentus It is grown in Spain, Africa and the Middle East. And although it may be unknown in other regions of the world, it currently crosses borders as a healthy food and substitute for nuts in allergy sufferers.

History and origin of the tiger nut

The product was cultivated in ancient Egypt from 4000 BC. C. Generally, it was used for its medical value for curative purposes. A little later, when the Arab empire expanded, it was introduced into Europe.

Spain, and especially the Valencia region, became the largest producer of tiger nuts. Its climatic conditions are ideal for cultivation.

In the United States, the tigernut plant has been considered a weed. However, a group of experts is analyzing it as a new way to obtain fuel.

Nutrients available

Tiger nut has specific nutritional value and bioactive compounds that depend on the type. There are black, yellow and brown.

A special volume on Food and Medicinal Plants describes it as high in starch, sucrose and tocopherol in the yellow variants. Other varieties contain polyunsaturated fatty acids, fiber, vitamins, and minerals.

According to these authors, the range of grams of macronutrients per 100 grams of wheat nut ranges from the following:

  • Fat: 24.91 – 28.94
  • Protein: 3.3 – 4.33.
  • Carbohydrates: 64.73 – 69.21.

Among the carbohydrates, the following stand out:

  • Starch: 30.54 – 33.21.
  • Saccharose: 17.98 – 20.39.
  • Fructose: 1.6-3.59.
  • Glucose: 6.79.

The most common vitamins in every 100 gram of tuber are the following:

  • Vitamin C: 5.48 – 26.78 milligrams.
  • Tocopherol or vitamin E: 149.86 – 270.56 micrograms.
  • Beta carotenes: 6.13 – 10.05 micrograms.

The most important minerals in milligrams per 100 grams are listed below:

  • Iron: 3.57 – 11.44.
  • Potassium: 556.9 – 845.8.
  • Magnesium: 100.5-107.3.
  • Zinc: 1.88 – 2.7.

The main fatty acids expressed in milligrams per 100 grams of total fat are the following:

  • Oleic fatty acid: 64.25 – 65.76.
  • Essential linoleic acid or omega 6: 10.04 – 12.39.
  • Total saturated: 20.65 – 22.03.
  • Linolenic essential acid or omega 3: 0.14 – 0.17.

The tiger nut tuber contains more moisture, carbohydrates and lipids than tree nuts. However, some experts consider the fatty acid profile to be similar to that of olive oil, avocado, and other vegetable oils.

Science has also demonstrated the antioxidant properties of the tuber C. esculentus, that increases with the concentration of polyunsaturated oil of tiger nut. The Nigerian Department of Science and Technology has shown that this sprouted or roasted tuber increases its total phenol content.

Although it is not a seed, the tigernut may contain antinutrients that reduce the absorption of nutrients at the intestinal level. However, some researchers have found that sprouting or roasting reduces these compounds.

The antioxidant content of tiger nut has caused several investigations to analyze its effect on the human body.

Possible benefits of tiger nut

Much is said about the health benefits of tiger nut. Some have to do with the inflammatory process, chronic diseases, blood glucose and cholesterol.

1. Source of antioxidants

Why are antioxidants important for health? In the body, oxygen flows freely and in this transit it can form molecules that lose electrons, called free radicals. These radicals are very unstable and when they find cells that give them electrons they cause oxidative damage.

According to some authors, this damage can lead to heart, neurological, endocrine diseases and, although it is not yet fully proven, they could also mutate DNA. In a recent article, it was published that tigernuts contain many antioxidants, with a good ability to scavenge free radicals.

2. Help for intestinal health

A meta-analysis highlighted that a high content of insoluble fiber can reduce the likelihood of constipation by adding bulk to the stool. The carbohydrates in tiger nuts are composed of starch and dietary fiber.

Professors Alegría and Farré compared this tuber to real walnuts. They observed that its fiber content is within the normal range for walnuts.

On the other hand, tigernut contains a type of starch called resistant, given that it is able to resist digestion and remains intact throughout the gastrointestinal tract. The Chilean Nutrition Magazine reports that resistant starch is fermented by beneficial intestinal bacteria.

3. You can maintain a healthy heart

The role of monounsaturated fat, such as oleic acid, on cardiovascular health has long been recognized. This type of diet is related to lowering LDL cholesterol or bad and increased cholesterol well or HDL.

Several scientists confirm the beneficial effect of oleic monounsaturated with a lower risk of heart disease and stroke. Researchers have compared tiger nut fat to olives as a source of olive oil. Although one is a tuber and the other is a fruit, the type of fatty acids that are part of triglycerides are very similar.

On the other hand, according to a study, tiger nut protein is rich in the amino acid arginine, which plays an important role in heart health. In the magazine Aminoacids published that arginine produces a compound called Nitric oxide, capable of lowering blood pressure.

4. It is considered an aphrodisiac

Tigernut is considered an aphrodisiac food capable of increasing libido. A study by the BMC comments that this tuber is used in the Middle East to stimulate sexual arousal in men. However, this claim is more anecdotal than scientific.

In this study, a team of doctors analyzed the sexual behavior of male rats. They found that tigernut improved performance and increased testosterone levels.

In another study with rats, it was concluded that tiger nut helped increase sperm count and maintained testicular integrity and sperm production. However, research on the aphrodisiac use of tigernut in man is lacking.

5. Could regulate sugar levels in diabetics

Although there are no studies in humans, in laboratory animals it was found that different concentrations of tiger nut extract can help control blood sugar levels. The fiber content of the tuber may cause a slower absorption of sugar in the intestine.

Other scientists have considered Cyperus esculentus one of the natural ingredients involved in the effective treatment of degenerative diseases. One of the reasons that support them is that, at the laboratory level, tigernut extract can inhibit the action of enzymes that digest carbohydrates in the intestine.

On the other hand, arginine, according to the Federal University of São Paulo, can increase insulin production and sensitivity in laboratory animals with diabetes mellitus. No studies have been conducted in humans, so further research is required.

6. Antibacterial activity

An important benefit of tiger nut is the property of fighting bacteria. For example, research found that extracts from the tuber showed activity against pathogenic bacteria such as E. coli, S. aureus and Salmonella.

This tuber was also part of a study that provided background information on medicinal and dietary plants that can be used against common bacterial infections. Especially those that show resistance to the antibiotics most used in less developed countries.

The antimicrobial activity of tiger nut shows promise for the further development of antibiotics.

How can tiger nut be included in the diet?

There are different ways to take advantage of tigernuts. In gastronomy it is gaining recognition for its intense and delicious flavor. We recommend the following forms of consumption:

  • With cereals, nuts or granola– Sliced ​​or tiger nut flakes are easy to chew and can be added to your morning cereal or combined with walnuts and other dried fruits.
  • Whole or raw as a snack– It is common to find raw and dried tigernuts in the market, so you can eat them that way, as a crunchy snack. They may or may not be peeled. Whole ones taste better and have more fiber.
  • Prepare baked goods– Tiger nut can be dried and ground into a delicious flour with a very mild flavor. Sifting it is recommended because it has a grittier texture than usual. They can be used as gluten-free flour.
  • Soaked or cooked tigernuts: If you consider that tigernuts are a bit tough, it is recommended to soak, boil or roast them.
  • Tiger nut milk shake: in Spain, this tuber is used to obtain the popular vegetable milk known as Tiger nut milk shake. It is also common to use it to make lactose-free products, such as ice cream and yogurt.

Tiger nut is a tuber that can be incorporated into the ingredient list of a healthy diet. In addition, it contains antioxidants that could prevent oxidative damage.

It might interest you …