Cyperus esculentus (also called chufa, tiger nut, atadwe, yellow nutsedge, and earth almond) is a species of plant in the sedge family widespread across much of the world.
Three varieties of tiger nut tubers are easily identified based on their color. They are the yellow, brown, and black varieties. However, only two varieties, yellow and brown, are commonly seen in most local markets in Nigeria. The yellow variety is further grouped into big and small yellow varieties. The origin of tiger nut cultivation was traced to ancient Egypt. Thousands of years ago, the cultivation of the crop was reported to take place between Sudan and Egypt on the shores of the Nile River. It is also cultivated in Southern Europe and parts of West Africa, most especially Ghana, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Cameroon, Senegal, Guinea, and Cote d’Ivoire. In Nigeria, tiger nut is grown mainly in the northern region, especially, Kaduna and Katsina State, and the tuber are available in the market all year round. Tiger nut is not a new plant species in Nigeria. The cultivation of tiger nuts requires a mild climate and sandy soil. It is planted in April and harvested in November. The planting period is grouped into major (April-July) and minor (September-November) seasons. Curious about what it tastes like? Tiger nuts have a chewy texture with a sweet, nutty flavor comparable to almonds and coconut. They can be eaten fresh, boiled, roasted, dried, or juiced.
In Nigeria, this edible tuber or earth almond, called Tiger nut, is a crop of the sedge family which can be enjoyed in its fresh vegetable state as dried seed or in its processed forms like the nuts drinks or chaff as Pap. Nutty snack food is an expensive source of insoluble fiber, Carbohydrates, and Protein among other nourishing nutrients. In Nigeria, the demand for it is nationwide and different ethnic nationalities recognize it with different names. For example, In the North where it is cultivated, it is called Aya, among the Igbos, it is known as Aki Hausa, while in Yoruba land, it is called Imumu, Ofio, or Erunsha. The nut is popular for the juicy drink made from it. That is the Nigerian version of the Spanish Horchata De Chufa called Kunun Aya, a sweet milk-like beverage. Kunnu just like Horhata represents any milky cream drink made from Vegetable or Cereal sources. This tuberous root comes in three main colored varieties: yellow, brown, and black. Although tiger nuts have been treated as weeds in some parts of the world, they are very high in antioxidants and have traditionally been used as oral medication and enemas. They have also been used as animal feeds, as a form of biofuel, as fishing bait, and as anti-aging beauty products.
What are the Uses of Tiger Nuts?
- Tiger Nut is used in the preparation of creamy delicious milk
- Ground Chaff that comes from Tiger Nuts serves as an alternative to Pap
- Culinary-wise, Tiger nuts are used by creative Chefs to prepare recipes
- They are used in making Tiger nut flour and Tiger nut vegetable oil
- It contains fats that are good for the human body
- It is always recommended for Diabetic patience to checkmate blood glucose
Tiger nut is rich in nourishing nutrients that every balanced diet cannot do without. You can call it a tiny package of essential food nutrients.
Nutritional Facts about Tiger Nuts
An ounce or 30 grams of tiger nuts provides approximately;
- Carbohydrates: 9 grams
- Calories: 120
- Fiber: 10 grams
- Protein: 2 grams
- Fat: 1 gram
- Vitamin E: or 278 percent of the daily requirement
- Iron: 10 percent of the daily requirement
- Zinc: 7 percent of the daily requirement
- Magnesium: 7 percent of the daily requirement
- Potassium: 5 percent of the daily requirement
- Vitamin B6: 5 percent of the daily requirements
- Vitamin C: 8 percent of the daily requirement
And also, talking about the health benefits:
Tiger Nuts are rich in antioxidants natural compounds in plants that can prevent or slow cell damage caused by free radicals or unstable molecules in the body. However, tiger nuts are also rich in antinutrients, including oxalates, phytates, tannins, and saponins which may reduce nutrient absorption. Luckily, and research shows that germinating or roasting them lowers their antinutrient levels, thus improving their nutrient absorption. Germinating tiger nuts also improves their antioxidant profile even further.
It also reduces blood glucose levels
Tiger nuts are a relatively low-carb food, meaning they’re great for people with diabetes who struggle to keep their blood sugar under control. They contain significant amounts of fiber, which slows down digestion and stabilizes blood sugar levels.
Boost Immune System Tiger nuts may boost your immune function through their ability to fight infections, especially bacterial infections, including E.coli and salmonella. Tiger nut extract may also help fight against antibiotic-resistant bacteria, according to researchers.
It may act as an aphrodisiac An aphrodisiac is a drug or food that stimulates sexual desires, and tiger nuts have been used in Ayurvedic medicine for the same purpose. In some parts of Africa, tiger nuts have been used in traditional medicine in the treatment of erectile dysfunction, to boost libido, and increase sperm count. Several lab studies have been done to confirm these claims, and in one of them, high consumption of tiger nuts for a month was shown to boost sexual activity and testosterone levels.
Lowers the risk of cancer Studies show that tiger nuts help prevent cancer. This is because they contain antioxidants and phenolic compounds, which suppress tumor growth. Antioxidants are substances found in foods that can help fight free radicals. Free radicals can create oxidative stress on cells, and at high levels, they can cause damage to DNA. This may increase your risk for some types of cancer. Luckily, antioxidant-rich foods like tiger nuts may protect against these effects by working to stop or prevent cell damage from occurring due to free radicals. tiger nuts can lower your risk of liver, colon, lung, and prostate cancers by at least 20%.
It improves heart health Incorporating tiger nuts into your diet may help improve cardiovascular function and prevent heart disease.
Restore balance to your digestive system These nuts can help eliminate issues like constipation, diarrhea, acid reflux, and indigestion. They are a rich source of fiber that prevents constipation while speeding up digestion and nutrient absorption. Tiger nuts contain resistant starch, a type of fiber that acts as a prebiotic to feed good gut bacteria. This promotes their function and diversity. They are rich in various nutrients such as fiber, antioxidants, vitamin E, magnesium, iron, potassium, magnesium, zinc, and vitamin C.
Finally, A few cases of tiger nut allergies have been reported. However, allergies are infrequent. But in case you experience any reactions, consult your doctor immediately.
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