Tiger Nut (Cyperus esculentus)

Tiger nut is a wholesome food and its derived product tiger nut milk also. Tiger nut is slowly attracting more scientific and technological interest; nevertheless there is a higher interest in the production of “horchata de chufa” (tiger nut milk) and its oil. The continous development of new products from the tubers and using its derived products is enhancing slowly interest in this food.

This is more or less the conclusion of the study “Tiger Nut (Cyperus esculentus) Commercialization: Health Aspects, Composition, Properties, and Food Applications” that Elena Sánchez-Zapata, Juana Fernández-López, and José Angel Pérez-Alvarez have published in the Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety in 2012.

Tiger nut or tigernut (Cyperus esculentus L.) is an edible perennial grass-like plant native to the Old World, and is a lesser-known vegetable that produces sweet nut-like tubers known as “earth almonds”. Tiger nut is also known by various other names as chufa (in Spanish), earth nut, yellow nut sedge, groundnut, rush nut, and edible galingale.

C. esculentus had been reported to be a “health” food, since its consumption can help prevent heart disease and thrombosis and is said to activate blood circulation. It was also found to assist in reducing the risk of colon cancer. This tuber is rich in energy content (starch, fat, sugar, and protein), minerals (mainly phosphorus and potassium), and vitamins E and C thus making this tuber also suitable for diabetics and for those intent on loosing weight.

Tiger nut has been reported to be high in dietary fiber content, which could be effective in the treatment and prevention of many diseases including colon cancer, coronary heart disease, obesity, diabetes, gastrointestinal disorders, and in loosing weight.

Tiger nut has been demonstrated to be a rich source of goodquality oil and contains a moderate amount of protein. It is also a source of some useful minerals such as potassium, phosphorus, and calcium as well as vitamins E and C.

Tiger nut “milk” has been reported to be used in the treatment of flatulence, indigestion, diarrhea, and dysentery, and its starch content presumably provides prebiotic properties for colon bacteria. In addition, tiger nut has been demonstrated to contain higher essential amino acids than those proposed in a protein standard by the FAO/WHO for satisfying adult needs.

“Horchata de chufa” is a sweetened water extract of tiger nut tubers (C. esculentus), which is very popular in Spain. It is of great economic importance there, but now is also showing increased potential in other countries, including the U.S.A.

Tiger nut milk has been found to be good for preventing arteriosclerosis, since its consumption can help prevent heart problems and thrombosis and activate blood circulation, mainly because its unsaturated fatty acid content is similar to that of olive oil and its arginine is a precursor of nitric oxide which helps the veins to expand. Tiger nut milk or “horchata” can be drunk by diabetics for its content in low-glycemic carbohydrates (mainly starch) and due to its arginine which liberates hormones that produce insulin.

Tiger nut milk is also a suitable drink for celiac patients, who are not able to tolerate gluten and also for the lactose-intolerant who stay away from cow milk and many dairy foods. It could also be recommended for those who have problems with digestion, flatulence, and diarrhea because it provides some digestive enzymes like catalase, lipase, and amylase.

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