Never before have we been so spoilt for choice when it comes to food. Diversity has become our generation and like most things, history has repeated itself. The Tigernut is nothing new but in fact contributed to up to 80% of our ancestors’ diets around 2 million years ago. We are now seeing this modern nut surge across our radar with its rich nutrient profile, which begins to explain how we survived all those years ago.
Now, we are not ones for one diet over another, but these bursting buds are prehistoric and deserve a slice of our attention and space on our plate.
There are so many upsides to this small, sultana-looking nut. So here are 10 things we think you need to know.
Tigernut is not a nut, although it is affectionately referred to as an earth almond. It is in fact, a tuber derived from the plant Cyperus esculentus. Tubers are likened to root vegetables, however they are fragrantly different in taste, appealing to the sweeter side due to the natural sugars present. Tigernuts do have a nutty mouth feel, similar to a chestnut and are dangerously moreish.
So for all those allergic to nuts, you’ve come to a safe place, despite what the name may tell you.
It’s not easy to find a snack these days without multiple ingredients with some sort of gluten derivative hidden inside.
The tigernut is a diverse food source and we’re working hard to find multiple ways to use this humble nut to replace traditional ‘gluten’ recipes. Tigernuts can be milled to create a flour alternative, which is ideal for baking because of its sweet nature.
Unfortunately, our western diet greatly lacks fibre, which is vital for a healthy gut. Unsurprisingly, we settle for finding it in our cereal and bread, however the best sources come from whole foods. Tigernuts should be included in our daily diet to reach the recommended level of 20-25g of fiber per day. Just one handful of tigernuts equals 30-40% of your daily fibre needs.
The gut is receiving a significant amount of owed attention and is becoming better known as our second brain. With multiple links drawn between the health of our gut paralleled with a healthy mind, we should be fortifying our diet with foods rich in prebiotics which stimulate the production of friendly bacteria. Tigernuts are the best source of resistant starch, a necessary prebiotic.
Studies have shown that tigernuts contributed up to 80% of our ancestors’ paleo diet. This ticks all the boxes for the paleo diet, which restricts gluten, grains, legumes and dairy products.
Incredibly, tigernuts contain more iron than red meat. For vegans or vegetarians, iron is often a missing mineral in the diet. Iron is essential for producing energy to sustain our daily activities and without it we can often feel lethargic and run down.
Tigernuts are the perfect snack for those who like to get their heart rate pumping. Why? Tigernuts are rich in potassium, which is a key mineral for switching on nerve cells to respond to the stimulation of muscles to contract. Potassium also contains electrolytes, which is crucial for restoring hydration levels after heavy exercise. Tigernuts are also three times richer in potassium than bananas!
Tigernuts are a rich source of many other essential vitamins and minerals, including vitamin E, which is a vital antioxidant for managing the balance of free radicals that roam the body. Without key antioxidants in our diet the process of ageing may be accelerated.
Tigernuts are also a very versatile food that can be milled into flour, blended to ‘nut’ butter, churned into ice cream, blitzed and strained into ‘nut’ milk or crushed into nutty pieces. Offshoot creations from these bases are endless!
We are experimenting with tigernut chocolate brownies, tigernut ice cream, tigernut smoothies, tigernut granola, tigernut tiramisu, tigernut blueberry brownies and tigernut pesto, and this list could go on.
Tigernuts contain natural sugars, which means no additional sugars need to be added to recipes. Due to the high fibre tigernuts also act as a great blood sugar regulator by slowing the rate of sugar absorbed into the bloodstream. Try pairing it with sweet foods to reduce the energy spike and quick slump!
Health and Harvest are one of the first tigernut suppliers in Australia. Starting with flours and nuts, we’re looking to expand our horizon to bring you more fun variations of this versatile and nutrient packed nut!
Sophia is a Naturopath student at the Australian College of Natural Therapies and has a certificate in Nutrition. Sophia was working in the health and wellness industry as a publicist to Australia’s leading complementary health care brands and experts. She has since decided to study to further her passion and interest in health and will use her Journalism degree to write about all things wellbeing.