What, you’ve never heard of tigernuts before?
Well you’re not alone, the majority of Americans have never heard of tigernuts, which is crazy considering they’ve been around for a long, long time and they’re incredibly popular in Africa.
In fact, tigernuts were one of the first foods to be enjoyed by ancestral communities, long before the agricultural evolution was even on the horizon.
Probably the coolest thing about tigernuts is how good they are for you, especially if you’ve got a long list of food allergies.
I’m going to tell you why if you haven’t already started eating tigernuts you might want to consider getting a pack really soon.
The Incredible Reasons to Start Eating Tigernuts
Here’s the thing about tigernuts…the name is actually deceiving.
Tigernuts aren’t actually a nut. They’re a tuber, much like a potato (just a little harder and a lot smaller).
And it’s only Americans who have adopted the name tigernut, as they’re often referred to by many other names, including “Zulu nut, yellow nutgrass, ground almond, chufa, edible rush and rush nut” in their native lands.
Tigernuts are frequently used as food stuffs throughout much of Africa, and it’s been documented the use of tigernuts in the human diet predates recorded history, just like a wide-variety of other paleo foods.
The ancient Egyptians used tigernuts in their daily lives and even have artwork depicting the process of gathering and separating them for use, that’s how long they’ve been a popular food staple.
Interestingly enough, some researchers at Oxford University theorize they were absolutely vital in human evolution.
The history of tigernuts is all well and good I hear you say, but what are they good for?
Glad you asked.
Where Did Tigernuts Come From?
The truth is the tigernut is an incredible plant-based source of nutrients.
In a research paper published by the African Journal of Food, Agriculture, Nutrition, & Development (who have written extensively on tigernuts) they note the tigernut is a powerhouse in the litany of agricultural food crops.
…Tiger nuts have long been recognized for their health benefits as they have a high content of soluble glucose and oleic acid, along with high energy content (starch, fats, sugars and proteins), they are rich in minerals such as phosphorous and potassium, calcium, magnesium and iron necessary for bones, tissue repair, muscles, the blood stream and for body growth and development and rich in vitamins E and C.
In the end these qualities are quite beneficial for your health.
Tigernuts can help with:
- Weight Management: Because tigernuts are high in the amino acid Arginine, consuming them can help with your weight. Arginine helps produce the hormone necessary for the production of insulin, which is essential in weight control.
- Problems with digestion: Because tigernuts contain a rich mix of the digestive enzymes catalase, lipase and amylase eating tigernuts can help with indigestion, flatulence and diarrhea. In fact tigernuts are the #1 source of resistant starch anywhere and resistant starch is a rich prebiotic. Prebiotics are incredibly important for giving your beneficial gut flora a safe environment to grow and prosper. 1 oz. of tigernuts contains 40% of your daily value of fiber too.
- Help keep cholesterol levels healthy: In a paper published by the World Journal of Food and Dairy Science it was noted tigernuts’ high concentration in oleic acid can have a positive effect on cholesterol. Studies have shown oleic acid can improve “good” HDL cholesterol profiles while reducing the levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol, so consuming tigernuts can help prevent poor heart health as well.
- Helps you adapt to stress: Tiger nut contains a high amount of the potent antioxidant vitamin B1. B1 is essential in helping your body’s central nervous system operate optimally and with ample B1 in your diet it can heighten your body’s ability to adapt to stress.
That’s just a handful of benefits provided by tigernuts.
Perhaps some of the most encouraging aspects of the Tigernut’s nutritional composition is the fact they’re made up of a ridiculous amount of healthy fats, and that they’re allergen free!
Lauren Geertsen (NTP) writes about the fat profile of tigernuts.
Unlike other starchy vegetable tubers such as potatoes, tigernuts are a good source of healthful fats. Tigernuts have a fatty acid composition similar to olive oil, with the fat composition being about 73% monounsaturated fat, 18% saturated fat and 9% polyunsaturated fat (source). The lower percentage of polyunsaturated fat, which can be highly inflammatory, in contrast to the specific monounsaturated and saturated fats (both nourishing, non-inflammatory types of fat) makes a healthy fat profile.
And in regards to their allergen content, since they’re a tuber, they are 100% completely soy, dairy, grain, nut, seed free!
This bodes well for people who want to enjoy the many derivatives associated with tigernuts (flours, milks, etc) without the worry of an allergic reaction.
I anticipate you’ll begin to see a lot more about tigernuts here in the future. Especially as many more people switch to AIP and paleo diets.
To learn a little more about the tigernut, how to prepare them, and where to get them, watch this YouTube video.