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The Gluten-, Nut-, Soy-, and Grain-Free Nutritional All-Star

This powerhouse should be on all of our grocery lists.

One of the greatest foods to hit the markets recently is tigernuts. It’s hard to imagine a friendlier carbohydrate—not to mention a more versatile one! Ground tigernuts make for a handy high-fiber flour substitute (my favorite usage), and tigernut oil is delicious drizzled on salads, cooked veggies, or meats. Tigernuts can even be used to make a tasty traditional beverage called horchata, a nondairy milk substitute that gives coconut, almond, and soy milk a run for their money.

Tigernuts can be snacked on like a nut… but they are not actually a nut, so they’re a great option for those with nut allergies. But, do keep in mind that they are quite hard and can be a bit tricky to chew—which is why I tend to stick to the flour form. Tigernuts (Cyperus esculentus) are the tuberous root of a wild grass originating on the African continent. You can’t get any more “Paleo” than that, as recent researchers suggest tigernuts may have been the original “trail mix.” Early hominids consumed large quantities of these little bulbs found at the base of grass blades. They grow much like a potato, in underground clusters knit together by fine root filaments.

What’s Inside

The nutritional profile of tigernuts is a combination of beneficial starches, fiber, monounsaturated fats, amino acids, vitamins, minerals, and enzymes. Tigernuts are about 33 percent fiber, and gram for gram, they contain almost six times as much sugar as sweet potatoes, yet amazingly still boast a low glycemic index value.

Tigernuts are packed with resistant starch that is digested slowly, acting as a prebiotic that nourishes the good bacteria of your digestive tract. Prebiotics help your body flush out harmful, inflammation-producing organisms and replace them with the beneficial ones that stabilize blood glucose levels, increase insulin sensitivity, and help prevent obesity. Resistant starch also increases butyrate production in your gut. Butyrate is the preferred energy source for the cells lining your colon and plays supportive roles in metabolism, inflammation, and stress mitigation.

Tigernut fat is 73 percent monounsaturated in the form of oleic acid (anti-inflammatory, supporting good HDL), 18 percent saturated fat (also anti-inflammatory), but only 9 percent polyunsaturated fat as linoleic acid (pro-inflammatory). Tigernuts are also packed with magnesium and arginine, an amino acid that optimizes your blood flow by increasing nitric oxide production and hence vasodilation. So, these little tubers are awesomely heart healthy!

In addition to magnesium, tigernuts provide a wealth of calcium, potassium, iron, phosphorous, zinc, copper, and vitamins C and E, as well as glutamic acid (important for neurotransmitters and brain health), aspartic acid (cellular energy and metabolism), and digestive enzymes including catalase, lipase, and amylase. As for flavor, tigernuts are pleasantly sweet with an almost caramel flavor that’s milder than that of most nuts. In today’s fast-paced world, it’s nice to have snacks we can grab in a hurry that won’t send our blood sugar soaring—and tigernuts fit the bill. As Tony the Tiger would say, “They’re grrrrreat!”

How to Enjoy

These delicious all-stars can be consumed raw or roasted, but hands down my favorite form is tigernut flour. For those who enjoy whipping up healthy treats—and for those who want to stay away from rice—this flour is a dream for gluten-free baking. When swapping in recipes, it’s typically suitable to use it as a one-to-one replacement for the amount of wheat flour called for. When you stock up, be sure to store it at room temperature. As an added bonus on the beauty front, feel free to slather your skin in tigernut oil. Because it’s so rich in vitamin E, tigernut oil is now being used by the cosmetic industry. It seems there nothing this food can’t do!

To learn more about tigernuts and other nutritional powerhouses, order your copy of The NEW Fat Flush Foods. And for those eager to use tigernuts and tigernut flour in recipes, you will love The NEW Fat Flush Cookbook. Both are available now!

Comments (4)

  • Marijke Talyarkhan May 10, 2017 - 10:41 pm Reply

    I have never encountered a Tiger nut,; sounds Magic. Hopefully I will find some in Rwanda 🇷🇼 along with some 🦍 🦍

  • Karin May 11, 2017 - 2:58 am Reply

    Yes tigernut is a wonderful nutrient!I lived in Spain for many years and learned to estimate the “chufa”, especially in summer when you can buy everywhere a glass of “horchata” (milk)which, refridgerated, is just what you need against the burning heat. The flour I didn’t know until I went glutenfree and I incorporated it usually in my morning cereals. Thanks for the really informative article!

  • Catherine May 12, 2017 - 8:11 am Reply

    Where do you find tiger nuts? I have never seen them…

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