Imagine a kitchen where you can reach into the pantry and pull out the perfect food. One that’s ideal for The Myers Way®, AIP approved, paleo-friendly and fun for the whole family. That can be a reality and I’m going to tell you how it’s done: with tiger nuts.
You might be thinking, “Wait. A nut? Those aren’t even AIP!” You’re right. Nuts such as almonds, cashews, and hazelnuts are not autoimmune diet approved, nor are they included in the 30-day protocol of The Myers Way®. Despite this, tiger nuts are a great addition to your diet because they’re not really nuts! Tiger nuts are a tuber that grows below the ground,1
however they resemble a nut in size, shape, and flavor. The grooves on the peel give them a striped appearance, which is how they got their name. Tiger nuts are gluten-free, dairy-free, nut-free, paleo, and they are a fantastic tool for maintaining a healthy weight, or even when you want to lose some weight.
People have been eating this sweet and nutty tuber for over 6,000 years.2
The hardy crop was brought to Spain from the Sudan and Egypt during the middle ages. Tiger nuts can also be found here in the United States, where their plant is occasionally considered a pesky weed.3
Despite that, the plant, also known as yellow nutsedge, is a very serviceable crop that can be utilized in many diet plans. You may have seen them in my recipes, and now I want to tell you why they are the ideal food for you and your family.
Different Ways to Use Tiger Nuts
As with nuts and starchy tubers such as cassava, tiger nuts can be enjoyed in many ways. Raw, dried tiger nuts are a tasty, gluten-free snack on their own. This ancient food can also be made into a delicious beverage or used as an ingredient in AIP baking and cooking.
Raw Tiger Nut Snack
Tiger nuts, available peeled and unpeeled, are great for when you’re craving something crunchy. Although the whole, unpeeled form has more fiber (about 10% more), chewing them can take some serious jaw work. You can soak the raw tiger nuts for about four hours to make them softer on the outside and crunchy on the inside. Tiger nuts are also an excellent snack when you want to lose some stubborn weight. They reduce blood sugar spikes and keep you full longer than many other snacks. They make a great healthy snack for kids and adults alike.
Tiger Nut Milk
Spanish horchata, or horchata de chufa, is a delicious drink made with tiger nuts and water, lightly sweetened, and spiced up with a dash of cinnamon.4
A popular treat along the Mediterranean coast,5 it’s high in calcium, vitamins C and E, completely dairy-free.6 and easy to make with a few simple ingredients. Additionally, tigernut milk, free of added sugars and artificial sweeteners, contains more iron and magnesium than cow’s milk and can be a quick way to get more of these nutrients in your diet.
Tiger Nut Flour
Conventional white wheat flour puts stress on your immune system and can result in chronic inflammation from gluten.7 Fortunately, tiger nut flour, a gluten-free flour, can replace wheat flours at a 1:1 ratio in the foods you love to make and eat. It’s one of the flours I recommend in the essential foods to swap for AIP-friendly cooking and it’s featured in many recipes in The Autoimmune Solution Cookbook.
Because tiger nut flour is naturally sweet, you can reduce the amount of honey, maple syrup, or other natural sweeteners in the recipe. On top of all that, tiger nut flour has more protein, vitamins, and minerals than wheat flour because its source, the tiger nut, is also rich with these healthy components. So it’s great for baking AIP snacks, paleo snacks, and all your baked goods.
Tiger Nut Oil
This byproduct of the allergen-free tuber is a flavorful oil that can be compared to olive oil. As an added bonus, the high levels of oleic acid, a monounsaturated healthy fat, make tiger nuts a great addition to your skincare routine as a way to increase skin elasticity and promote a smooth, youthful appearance.8 Compared to the price of some natural skin oils, this is an affordable alternative that can be used to nourish your body inside and out.
Packed with Nutrients
Tiger nuts are small, however, one serving packs in A LOT of nutrients. They’re not just an allergen-free snack that’s easy to take on the go, they’re also a great energy booster. A 1 oz (30g) serving of about 25 tiger nuts contains:9
- 120 calories
- 7g of fat (82% of which are unsaturated fats)
- 9g of carbohydrates
- 10g of fiber
- 2g of protein
Tiger nuts outshine tree nuts such as almonds and cashews as a healthy snack for dieters and wellness enthusiasts in more areas than calorie count. Their nutrient profile holds an impressive percentage of the vitamins and minerals necessary to improve your overall health.
Tiger Nuts Are High In Fiber
If you’re not meeting the daily recommendations for dietary fiber, tiger nuts could be the food you need. Fiber stimulates your digestion and helps prevent gut-related afflictions such as constipation. Unfortunately, most Americans are not getting enough fiber in their diet.10 a single ounce of tiger nuts contains 10 grams of fiber, which is almost 40% of your daily recommended fiber11 (that’s almost as much as my Coconut Joy Fiber Bars!). For those of you who struggle with stubborn weight linked to an underactive thyroid, slower metabolism, or chronic stress-related weight gain, munching on raw tiger nuts will keep your blood sugar levels stable, support your digestion, and improve cholesterol levels (in more ways than one!).12
Tiger Nuts Are Sources Of Vitamins C & E
The Vitamin C and E present in tiger nuts help support your body’s immune response and protect your cells from damage. The 1.8 mg of vitamin C in one serving of tiger nuts is used by our bodies to make skin cells, blood vessels, ligaments, and tendons, as well as support your body’s response to wounds.13 Tiger nuts are recommended for healthy skin, weight management, and fertility—all because of vitamin E.1415 Vitamin E is also important for eye and skin health due to its antioxidant properties.16 The incredible 3 mg of vitamin E in one serving of tiger nuts is about 278% of the daily recommended value.
Magnesium plays an important role in supporting digestive, heart, and brain health, and the absorption of nutrients such as calcium and potassium. Inflammation from gluten, soy, yeast, and dairy irritate the digestive tract and result in reduced magnesium absorption and then an even greater need for it. Luckily, 100 grams of tiger nuts provides 13-17% of the daily recommended dose of magnesium17 to help you get off this merry-go-round of inflammation and magnesium deficiency.
Tiger Nuts: A Better Source Of Potassium Than Bananas
Eating 100 grams of tiger nuts will provide you with more potassium than 100 grams of banana. Your body needs potassium for proper kidney and heart function, muscle contraction, and nerve transmission.18 Getting ready to head to your next workout and need a quick pick-me-up? Grab a few tiger nuts to fuel your body with the nutrients it deserves.
Amino acids are the building blocks used to help the body process food and repair tissue.19 Some of the most abundant amino acids found in tiger nuts are Glutamic acid and arginine. These amino acids promote cognitive ability, combat fatigue, and stimulate the immune system. Arginine also boosts the production of nitric oxide to increase blood flow and lower blood pressure.2021 You can drink tiger nut milk to get a concentrated amount of amino acids, including the essential amino acids your body cannot produce on its own.22
Monounsaturated Fatty Acids (MUFA)
Tiger nuts are a delicious way to include a satisfying, low-calorie, high-fat food in your diet for smart, allergen-free snacking. Monounsaturated fatty acids are a healthy type of fat, and replacing some of the nasty trans fats from processed oils with MUFAs may offer various health benefits.23 In fact, just one ounce of tiger nuts has 16 grams of monounsaturated fats and 2 grams of polyunsaturated fats (both are good!).
So What Are Tiger Nuts Missing?
That’s easy. Just two items that I advise everyone to avoid: Gluten and dairy.
Tiger nuts are a gluten-free food that eliminates your risk of an inflammatory response brought on by gluten proteins. Gluten causes your immune system to become overly stressed to the point that it begins attacking your body’s own tissues to try and combat the source of inflammation. This state of chronic inflammation can lead to leaky gut and leave your body open to gastrointestinal distress, seasonal allergies, and autoimmune disease.
Sometimes I turn over a bag in the store and see that there is “whey,” “whey powder,” or “casein,” on the list of ingredients. These are names for the proteins found in milk and can result in inflammation. The natural process of tiger nut harvesting leaves no room for contamination by dairy.
In fact, tiger nuts actually promote a healthy response to the bloating and digestive distress brought on by these inflammatory foods. The tubers contain digestive enzymes such as catalase, lipase and amylase, which help alleviate indigestion and gas.24 It’s hard to believe—a gluten-free and dairy-free food that also combats uncomfortable symptoms associated with constipation, belly bloat, and gut infections such as SIBO and Candida overgrowth.
Tiger Nuts Are Not A Common Allergen
In many of my articles, I recommend avoiding grains and legumes, tree nuts, and seeds due to their high lectin content, phytates, and phytic acid. Tree nuts are notorious in the world of food allergies and food sensitivities. One in every 13 children has a food allergy 25 that could trigger an allergic reaction, leading to inflammation, swelling, and in extreme cases anaphylactic shock.2627
Luckily, tiger nuts are not actually a nut and tiger nut allergies are uncommon, so they can be sent in a lunch bag to your child’s “peanut and tree nut-free” school. Their lectin content is also significantly lower than tree nuts, similar to other tubers such as sweet potato, yucca (cassava), and taro.2829 For a kid-friendly snack that will not lead to an inflammatory response, make some tiger nut butter at home, and double the prebiotic benefits by pairing it with apples, bananas, or celery.
Good Sources Of Tiger Nuts
Although your best bet for getting your hands on this superfood is to buy them from reliable online sellers such as Thrive Market, or directly from Organic Gemini, tiger nuts are becoming more readily available in health food stores and mainstream markets.
There are so many creative ways to incorporate this versatile tuber into your healthy diet. Give snack time a boost, use the flour to bake one of your family favorites, or whip up a version of the classic beverage, horchata. Food is medicine! I have found that optimal nutrition is your best defense against chronic illness and autoimmune disease. Eating foods like tiger nuts helps you maximize your diet, avoid inflammation, and take back your health. Enjoy!