You’ve likely started spotting tigernut products in the health food or specialty aisles of your local grocery store and might be wondering–what are those.
You’ve likely started spotting tigernut products in the health food or specialty aisles of your local grocery store and might be wondering–what are those? Are they healthy? Do they have any superfood-like benefits for the human body? The answer is an enthusiastic yes!
Tiger nuts (also known as chufa in some regions) can absolutely be a healthy addition to a balanced diet and possess numerous benefits. Keep reading to find out how healthy tigernuts truly are:
Because of their name, you might think that tigernuts are some kind of nuts–but they’re not related to nuts at all! Tigernuts are a tuber (an underground structure on the roots or stems of some types of plants used to store nutrients) that grow on the yellow nutsedge plant. Tigernuts have a wrinkled skin that covers the nut-like interior. Just like most nuts, they can be eaten raw or roasted, or turned into a number of other products for consumption in various forms.
Tigernuts have been used by civilizations in the Middle East and North Africa for thousands of years, as both a food and in medicinal practices to manage minor health conditions. Nowadays, they’re used mostly in snack foods, beverages, and baking.
The average 30 gram (close to 1 ounce) serving of tigernuts will contain about 120 calories, including 19 grams of carbs, 7 grams of monounsaturated fat (the heart-healthy kind!), around 2 grams of protein and approximately 9 grams of natural sugar. They also contain key minerals (iron, magnesium, potassium, and zinc, to name a few) that are necessary for everyday bodily functions.
Tigernuts are much higher in fiber than other nuts like peanuts, almonds, and cashews, but are lower in protein than some of the other options. Their fat content makes them heart-healthy, and their fiber content aids in balancing blood sugar and weight management.
Adding tigernuts to your diet can contribute to digestive health, thanks to the nutritional profile mentioned above. More specifically, it’s the high concentration of fiber in tigernuts that makes them gut-healthy. Fiber is a key ingredient in digestive health, as it aids your intestines in digesting food and helps keep the intestinal tract clear of debris and build-up. It keeps food moving through the path of your digestive system while optimizing nutrient absorption, a perfect pairing for excellent digestion and overall improved health.
Tigernuts can also be beneficial for weight management, thanks in part to the fiber content in the tubers. As discussed above, fiber slows the absorption of nutrients in the digestive tract, which prevents blood sugar spikes and helps maintain balanced blood sugar levels (when ingested with a healthy, balanced meal).
The combination of protein, fiber, and healthy monounsaturated fat in tigernuts is also responsible for helping you feel full for longer stretches of time, which can decrease your appetite and help control excessive snacking or hunger shortly after eating.
The monounsaturated fat found in tigernuts can help reduce the levels of unhealthy cholesterol in your blood, which can lower your risk of heart disease and stroke. Tigernuts also provide nutrients to help develop and maintain your body's cells. Oils rich in monounsaturated fats also contain vitamin E, an important antioxidant vitamin.
Tigernuts also contain magnesium, potassium, calcium, and vitamins C & D, nutrients that have also been linked to cardiovascular well-being. Tigernuts are a heart-healthy choice for snacking, baking, and cooking!
As mentioned above, tigernuts can aid in regulating blood sugar because of the combination of fat, fiber, and protein in them. They can help you feel full in between snacks or meals, and the nutrients in them can help prevent blood sugar spikes because the heavy fiber content slows the absorption of sugar in the body. Another key ingredient for healthy blood sugar levels, arginine, can be found in tigernuts, helping regulate insulin production for healthy blood sugar levels.
We’ve already learned that the fiber in tigernuts can help slow the absorption of nutrients in the digestive tract to allow the body to soak up more nutrition from the food you eat, but did you know that certain nutrients found in tigernuts can actually increase the absorption of some nutrients?
The vitamin D and phosphorus found in tigernuts work together to help your body absorb calcium, while the tuber’s vitamin C content helps your body absorb iron, which is an essential nutrient needed to help your body produce red blood cells to distribute oxygen and other important elements to your organs.
Tigernuts contain powerful antioxidants like vitamins C and E, which fight against free radicals and other agents of oxidative stress and inflammation in the body. As part of a balanced diet, the compounds found in tigernuts can help reduce and even prevent inflammation, which is especially important for those with autoimmune conditions, diabetes, and heart disease.
There are no nuts in tigernuts–so they’re a safe nut-free alternative for those with nut allergies that still crave the taste, texture, and cooking uses of nuts. They’re also naturally gluten-free and vegan. Depending on the brand of tigernut product, many tigernut-based snacks, drinks, and confections are also dairy-free, making them suitable for those with lactose intolerance or other sensitivities.
Those with sedge allergies, or allergies to the Cyperus esculentus family should steer clear of tigernuts, but those types of allergies aren’t nearly as common as the previously-mentioned allergies like dairy and nut allergies.
As part of a balanced diet, allergy-friendly tigernuts can be a fantastic addition to a healthy lifestyle! Their high fiber content and monounsaturated fat make them heart healthy, and can even contribute to weight and blood sugar management, higher rates of nutrient absorption, and lowered inflammation. Though they are lower in protein than many other types of nuts, they make up for it with a host of vitamins and minerals. Try adding tigernuts to your diet and experience the benefits for yourself!
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