Skip to content

Tiger Nuts- What is it, Properties, Benefits and Uses (Horchata, Flour, Cream and more)

February 3, 2023
Tiger Nuts- Properties, Benefits and Uses

Although tigernut is a very popular tuber in some areas of Europe, Africa, and the Middle East, it is still a great unknown in other world regions, although perhaps not for long. Due to our growing interest in healthy diets and lifestyles, many foods, including Tiger Nuts, have begun to gain attention beyond their geographic borders. If you are not yet familiar with this root and want to know what it tastes like, what are its nutritional propertiesbenefits, and better forms of consumption, among other related topics, we invite you to continue reading the article.

What are Tiger Nuts?

What are tigernuts

The tigernut is the tuber or edible root of the herbaceous plant Cyperus esculentus. This belongs to the Ciperáceas family, also known as “sedges” (superficially similar plants to grasses and reeds). Tiger Nutsare small roots, brown in color, round in shape, and rough in texture; It could be said that their appearance is similar to that of chickpea or hazelnut. Hence this species is commonly known as hazelnut sedge.

It has a slightly sweet and starchy flavor, and although it can be eaten raw, tigernut is often used to make beverages, with tigernut horchata being the most popular example. It is a sweet drink, similar to milk, widely consumed in Spain. However, other uses are now emerging in the kitchen and the industry; some examples are the production of flour, peeled tigernut snacks, beers, animal feed, and cosmetics.

Nutritional properties of tigernut

Nutritional properties of tigernut

The nutritional value of tigernut is excellent; not for pleasure, its consumption has begun to expand, and it has become a healthy recommendation. In fact, for some, it is already on the superfood list.

This tiny tuber is rich in fiber, essential vitamins, and minerals. It is a good source of carbohydrates free of gluten and non-animal protein, characteristics that have given it a place in the diet of vegan and celiac people.

Some of the main nutrients that we can obtain in 1 serving of tigernut (30 grams) are 1:

  • 120 calories
  • 19 g carbohydrates
  • 2 g protein
  • 7 g fat
  • 10g fiber
  • 8 mg of iron (10% of the Recommended Daily Value -VDR-)
  • 28 mg of magnesium (7% VDR)
  • 1 mg de zinc (7 % VDR)
  • 215 mg de potasio (6 % VDR)
  • 1 mg of vitamin B6 (5% VDR)

It also provides antioxidants such as vitamins C, E, arginine, digestive enzymes, and monounsaturated fats such as omega-9 oleic acid. It is a portion of food free of caffeine, lactose, and fructose.

Healthy benefits of Tiger Nuts

Healthy benefits of tigernuts

Without a doubt, they have a lot to offer besides their rich flavor and versatility. Considering all its nutritional properties, it is not surprising that the consumption of hazelnut sedges has benefits for our health.

They are rich in antioxidants.

Maintaining a diet high in antioxidant compounds is our first line of combat against oxidative damage caused by free radicals. Eventually, these are responsible for triggering all kinds of diseases in our body, including cancer and heart disease. Thanks to its content of vitamin C, vitamin E, and arginine (one of the 20 essential amino acids that make up the proteins in the body), consuming Tiger Nuts regularly can help us maintain good levels of antioxidants. Therefore, prevent certain health problems.

It is said that certain styles of preparation can alter the antioxidant properties in tigernut 2. For example, in the case of horchata, the use of germinated roots helps to retain a higher content of antioxidants than fresh roots.

They are a great source of dietary fiber.

A serving of only 30 grams of Tiger Nuts contains 10 grams of fiber; this represents almost half of our daily needs. In fact, these tubers contain more fiber per serving than other high-fiber superfoods, such as chia seeds or quinoa.3

Getting enough fiber is an essential step in caring for nutrition, digestion, and immunity. Since the digestive system does not absorb it, fiber passes through it. It mobilizes the passage of feces, dragging toxins, waste, and cholesterol particles to expel them out of the body.

In addition to promoting good digestive function, avoiding constipation, and helping to prevent high levels of bad cholesterol, insoluble fiber provides a greater feeling of satiety and does not raise blood glucose levels; This is very beneficial for those who want to reduce the number of daily calories, control their appetite and lose weight, as well as for people who have diabetes and need to control their condition.

Has antibacterial properties

A lesser-known benefit of tigernut is its ability to fight bacteria in the body. A study4 published in Ancient Science of Life found that Cyperus esculentus extract had effective antibacterial properties against several dangerous human pathogens, including salmonella and E. coli.

Another characteristic of tigernut that can contribute to this antibacterial effect is strengthening the immune system. Being rich in essential minerals and having prebiotic action in the intestine (it contains a type of starch that serves as a source of energy for beneficial intestinal bacteria), its consumption helps to raise our natural defenses.

Improves blood pressure levels

Being a tuber low in sodium and rich in potassium (an essential electrolyte for the human body), tigernut is suitable for hypertension. The vasodilator and regulating effect of potassium can help lower blood pressure levels naturally.

Supports good bone and tooth health

Due to its high magnesium content (100 grams of tigernut provide around 13-17% of the recommended daily intake), hazelnut sedge contributes to the fixation of calcium in our body; this, in turn, is very important to avoid tooth decay, osteoporosis, and fractures.

Ingesting adequate amounts of magnesium also helps to keep us energized, avoid insomnia, take care of our muscles, balance body pH, and prevent the development of infections.

It is a source of food suitable for vegans, celiacs, and lactose intolerant.

With a significant contribution of amino acids per serving, tigernut has become a good alternative for not consuming animal protein.

Likewise, those who cannot consume gluten find an option with this tuber since it is a safe and satiating source of complex carbohydrates.

On the other hand, tigernut horchata is an excellent substitute for cow’s milk for people who have a dairy intolerance. It is even believed that it is a more nutritious drink than other vegetable milk on the market.

Improves the appearance of skin and hair

Due to its antioxidant compounds, minerals, vitamins, and fats, researchers/manufacturers have found that tigernut has moisturizing and anti-aging properties that promote skin and hair care. These benefits can be obtained through its consumption as food, but there are already cosmetic products on the market that have included tigernut milk as one of their active ingredients.

Having seen what has been seen, why not give this root a try?

As if that were not enough, it has recently been reported that tigernut could also improve sexual performance. A preliminary study5 of 2015 analyzed how the consumption of Tiger Nuts affected sexual behavior in male rats. The results showed that these rodents had experienced an increase in their testosterone levels and, therefore, their sexual performance. Similar discoveries have sparked a debate as to whether tigernut may also have an aphrodisiac effect in humans, but more research is still needed on this.

History and origin of the tigernut

The tigernut is one of the oldest plants recorded in ancient Egypt since there is evidence of its cultivation since 4000 BC. It is known that it was consumed boiled, fermented as beer, roasted, or served with honey. Due to its properties, It was also traditionally used as a natural treatment for several common ailments.

Sometime later, after the expansion of the Arab Empire, this root was introduced in Europe, especially in the Iberian Peninsula; the area’s climatic conditions were ideal for growing these tubers. This explains why today Spain is the largest producer of Tiger Nuts , especially in the Valencia region.

Forms of consumption

Commonly, Tiger Nuts are consumed during the summer since the horchata is more refreshing and healthy for this season; however, this is not the only way to take advantage of them. The tigernut is gaining recognition in today’s gastronomy due to its intense and delicious flavor. It has a juicy sweetness that bursts in the mouth but is not cloying.

Among the most popular options are:

Whole Tiger Nuts . Whole dried Tiger Nuts make a delicious snack. Depending on the brand, they can come peeled or unpeeled. The peeled version is a little softer and easier to eat.

Tigernut milkshake. One of the first tigernut recipes you’ll want to try if you haven’t already. Many people prefer to prepare their own tigernut milk, which is very simple; all you need is a blender and a sieve or strainer.

To make the tigernut horchata:

  • Soak the dried tubers in water overnight (about 12 hours).
  • Then blend them with water in a 2: 1 ratio (two cups of water for each cup of tigernut); don’t forget to add a little vanilla.
  • Using the strainer, separate the milk from the pulp. If you wish, you can keep the pulp to reuse it as tigernut flour later.
  • Once you have this “milk,” you can use it in many ways, like cow’s milk or another vegetable drink (drink it pure, with cinnamon, coffee, oats, cereals, etc.).

Tigernut flour. You can use the leftover pulp from the horchata and dehydrate it to create a flour very similar to almond flour; It can then be used to make puddings, pancakes, bread, cookies, and candy. Tigernut flour or ground tigernut is also available in online stores and health food markets.

Tigernut cream. The traditional cocoa and hazelnut spread now has competition; it is a similar cream that works very well to add to coffee or tea but is made with tigernut.

Pickled tigernut. Those who prefer salty food can try the salty pickled tigernut. The roots are prepared in vinegar water and flavored with garlic, oregano, thyme, rosemary, among other spices. In this way, you can add Tiger Nuts to salads, rice dishes, couscous, sauteed.

Tigernut beer. This type of craft beer is obtained by adding Tiger Nuts just at the moment when the malted barley is boiled. Although the roots are removed and do not remain inside the drink during fermentation, this method is sufficient to achieve that the beer is impregnated with its sweet aroma.

Quick answers to frequently asked questions

What do Tiger Nuts taste like?

The flavor of tigernut is a bit earthy, naturally sweet, and similar to the flavor of walnuts. Their texture is interesting, as they feel tough on the outside but chewier on the inside.

Is tigernut a dried fruit?

No. Although many people believe otherwise, Tiger Nuts are not part of the walnut or dried fruit family. They are tubers, and in general, their consumption is completely safe for those who have allergies of this type. But, while extremely rare, some cases of allergies to Tiger Nuts have been reported. In the presence of allergic symptoms, consult your doctor immediately.

What is the tigernut plant like?

The tigernut plant, Cyperus esculentus, is a herbaceous plant that can grow up to 90 cm in height.

  • Each of its stems arises separately, each one from a tuber, in this case, the tigernut. They are triangular in section and develop thin leaves 3-10 mm wide.
  • The foliage of the countersunk sedge is hard and fibrous; it is often mistaken for an herb.
  • It develops a kind of spikelets from where the flat and oval seeds emerge. These are surrounded by four hanging leaf-shaped bracts 90 degrees apart from each other.
  • The roots are fine and fibrous, with small, hard, spherical tubers (Tiger Nuts). These tubers are 0.3 to 1.9 cm in diameter and vary in color from yellow, brown, and black. A plant can produce anywhere from several hundred to thousands of tigernuts during a single growing season.
  • During cold winter temperatures, foliage, roots, rhizomes, and basal bulbs die, but tubers survive and sprout the following spring (when soil temperatures remain above 6 ° C).

How to plant and cultivate tigernut?

To obtain your own harvest of Tiger Nuts at home, you can use the following instructions:

  • Sowing. Tigernuts cultivation requires a temperate climate. The tubers grow best in sandy and moist soils, with a pH between 5.0 – 7.5 and depths of approximately 30 cm. They tolerate adverse conditions, including periods of drought and floods, and survive in soil temperatures of around -5 ° C; however, they do not tolerate salinity. Sowing is usually done on flat soils, where previously ridges have been made to favor irrigation. The separation between ridges is approximately 60 cm, and the seeds are planted manually. The distance between the seeds can vary from 15 to 20 cm, and the sowing depth is around 8 cm. They can be planted between April and May and must be irrigated every week until harvested in November and December.
  • Growth. The tubers begin to develop 6-8 weeks after the sprouting of the seedlings and grow rapidly during July and August. Ripening lasts from 90 to 110 days, for an average yield between 10 and 19 t / ha.
  • Harvest. The harvest can be done in November or December. Although there are several ways to harvest tigernuts when grown industrially, the recommendation for those who have only done their own planting at home is to carefully remove them from the ground and rinse them with water to remove sand and small stones.
  • Drying. The drying process usually takes place in the sun and can take up to 3 months. Temperatures and humidity levels must be carefully monitored during this period, turning tigernuts every day to ensure even drying. Drying prevents rot and bacterial infections, ensuring the quality of the tubers and high levels of nutrition. Tigernuts lose a considerable amount of water during drying and storage; the starch content tends to decrease, and the sugar content increases.

Do tigernuts get fat?

As with all carbohydrate-rich foods, the answer depends on how much you eat. A 30-gram serving of whole dried tigernuts contains 120 calories (60 calories in a glass of horchata). Hence eating them in excess or combined with a high-calorie diet can lead to weight gain.

As a positive point, we must bear in mind that this tuber is high in fiber, which means that it can be a good source of complex carbohydrates for those people who want to control their appetite and reduce their daily calorie intake.

How long can tigernuts be kept?

The most important thing when storing tigernuts is to choose a well-ventilated place and avoid putting them in plastic bags. Under these conditions, tigernut can be perfectly preserved for long periods of time, even up to 2 years.

What other names does it have?

The tigernut is also known as hazelnut sedge, tigernut, tabby nut, cryolite, alcatufa, belasia, castanet, chufa, chufleta, cochufas, cotufa, edible sedge, and sweet rush. Its scientific name is cyperus esculentus, which is Latin for edible reed.

References:

  1. https://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/custom/4025015/2?print=true
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25320721/?ncbi_mmode=std
  3. https://www.naij.com/69500.html
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22557327/?ncbi_mmode=std
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26400055/?ncbi_mmode=std

My name is Louise Hammond, and I am the creator of this website, a place to find information about tubers, bulbs and medicinal roots. In Dreamsship.com I show the properties, benefits, characteristics, photos and images, ways of growing and how to make delicious meals from starchy vegetables.