While tiger nuts do have some benefits when consumed in moderation, they also come with some significant downsides you should be aware of before stocking up. We’re not trying to stop you from eating Tiger Nuts, we only want to enlighten you, so you can make an informed choice about whether tiger nuts are right for you.
Here are 10 disadvantages and side effects to consider before you incorporate tiger nuts into your diet.
What Are Tiger Nuts?
Tiger nuts, also known as chufas, are small tubers that grow underground. About the size of a chickpea, these nuts are actually the tubers of the sedge plant Cyperus esculentus. Tiger nuts can be brown, yellow, or black.
They’re also rich in iron, calcium, phosphorus, potassium, and vitamins C and E. With a creamy, nutty flavor, tiger nuts can be roasted, ground into flour, or made into plant-based milk called horchata. However, it’s important to note that tiger nuts, like any food, should be consumed in moderation.
Historical & Origin Tiger Nuts
Tiger nuts have a fascinating historical origin that dates back centuries. These small tubers, also referred to as chufas, have been enjoyed by various cultures around the world for their unique taste and nutritional benefits.
Originating in ancient Egypt, tiger nuts were a staple food in the diets of Egyptians as early as 4000 BC. They were even found buried alongside pharaohs, signifying their importance in Egyptian culture. Over time, the cultivation of tiger nuts spread to other regions, including the Mediterranean, North Africa, and parts of Asia.
The botanical name for tiger nuts is Cyperus esculentus. This name refers to the sedge plant from which the tubers grow. The plant itself is a member of the Cyperaceae family and is characterized by its grass-like appearance. The tubers, which resemble small chickpeas in size, are the edible part of the plant and boast a delightful creamy, nutty flavor. Tiger nuts have not only stood the test of time but have also gained popularity in recent years due to their nutritional profile.
Tiger nuts have been enjoyed by different cultures throughout history and continue to be appreciated for their nutritional value. If you’re considering adding tiger nuts to your diet, remember to savor them in moderation while relishing their unique flavor and healthful qualities.
10 Disadvantages of Tiger nuts
Tiger nuts have gained popularity in recent years due to their nutritional value and versatile uses. However, it’s important to consider some potential drawbacks associated with consuming tiger nuts. While they can be a healthy addition to your diet when consumed in moderation, here are a few disadvantages and side effects to be aware of:
Risk of Contamination
Tiger nuts can be contaminated with toxic weeds, molds, and bacteria if not properly handled and stored. As tiger nuts are often grown in warm, humid climates, improper drying and storage conditions may lead to the growth of Aspergillus flavus, a toxic mold that produces aflatoxin. Aflatoxin is a carcinogenic compound that can cause liver damage and suppress the immune system. Other contaminants like Salmonella and E. coli have also been detected in tiger nuts.
To avoid these dangers, only purchase tiger nuts from reputable sources that follow good manufacturing practices and proper handling/storage procedures. Once purchased, keep tiger nuts in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Do not buy more tiger nuts than you can consume within 4 to 6 weeks. Before eating, thoroughly rinse and sort through tiger nuts, discarding any damaged, discolored, or moldy nuts. Tiger nuts can be a nutritious snack, but due diligence is required to mitigate risks from contamination.
Tiger Nuts May Cause Digestive Issues
Tiger nuts may cause digestive issues for some. Their high fiber content, while beneficial in moderation, can lead to gas, bloating, cramping, and diarrhea in large amounts or when you first start eating them. The starch in tiger nuts, called resistant starch, travels undigested to the colon, where gut bacteria break it down, producing gas as a byproduct.
Start with a small amount, around 1/4 cup, and slowly increase the amount over time as your body adjusts. Be sure to drink plenty of water, which can help reduce digestive discomfort. If problems persist, tiger nuts may not be the best snack for you.
Interference with Certain Medication
Tiger nuts can interfere with certain medications you may be taking. As with any food, check with your doctor or pharmacist to ensure tiger nuts do not interact negatively with any prescription or over-the-counter drugs you are on.
In particular, tiger nuts may inhibit the absorption of some medications in the intestines, reducing their effectiveness. The high fiber content can impact drugs that need to be taken on an empty stomach. Additionally, the nutrients in tiger nuts, like potassium, vitamin E, and magnesium, may interact with blood pressure, heart, or diabetes medications if consumed in large amounts.
It is best to take any medications as directed by your doctor and consume tiger nuts and other high-fiber or nutrient-dense foods in moderation and as part of a balanced diet to minimize risks of interference.
Tiger Nuts May Cause Allergic Reactions
Tiger nuts may cause allergic reactions in some people, especially those with nut allergies. This is because tiger nuts are tubers that are closely related to nuts despite being called “nuts.” The proteins found in tiger nuts can trigger a reaction in people with nut allergies, ranging from minor irritation to a life-threatening anaphylactic shock. Be very cautious if you have any known nut allergies.
Tiger nuts include oxalates, which are naturally occurring chemicals present in many plant-based foods. Oxalates can help certain people develop kidney stones. People who have a history of kidney stones or calcium oxalate difficulties should be cautious when consuming tiger nuts.
Tiger Nuts are High in Calories
Tiger nuts are quite high in calories. Just one ounce of dried tiger nuts contains about 120 calories, along with 7 grams of fat. The majority of the fat in tiger nuts is unsaturated fat, especially oleic acid, which is a heart-healthy monounsaturated fat. However, the high calorie and fat content means that tiger nuts should still only be consumed in moderation.
Eating too many tiger nuts can lead to weight gain because of the excess calories. The fat and starch in tiger nuts may also trigger inflammation in some people. If you need to watch your waistline or have concerns about weight gain, limit your portion of tiger nuts to no more than one ounce a few times per week.
Tiger Nuts are High in Anti-nutrients
Tiger nuts include a lot of antinutrients such as oxalates, phytates, tannins, and saponins that may interfere with the absorption of nutrients. Fortunately, research indicates that germinating or roasting them reduces the amount of antinutrients they contain, enhancing their ability to absorb nutrients.
Eating too many tiger nuts can lead to an imbalance in certain nutrients. Tiger nuts are high in potassium, magnesium, and phosphorus but low in sodium. Consuming large amounts of tiger nuts can alter the balance of these minerals in your body.
An excess of potassium, magnesium, or phosphorus with little sodium may lead to nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. It can also negatively impact your blood pressure and heart rate. Limit your tiger nut intake to 1 to 2 ounces a few times a week to gain the nutritional benefits without risks.
Choking on Whole Tiger Nuts
Whole tiger nuts can pose a risk of choking, especially for small children, elderly people, or anyone with swallowing difficulties.
Tiger nuts have a round, nut-like shape and a hard, chewy texture that requires a lot of chewing to break down before swallowing. For some people, especially young kids, the elderly, or anyone with dental issues, tiger nuts may be difficult to chew thoroughly. If swallowed whole or in large chunks, the tiger nuts can become lodged in the throat, blocking the airway and making it difficult to breathe.
To avoid choking, tiger nuts should be chopped, grated, or blended into smaller, softer pieces appropriate for the age and abilities of the person consuming them. For young children, elderly people, or anyone with chewing/swallowing issues, tiger nuts should be avoided altogether or only eaten under close adult supervision. Better safe than sorry when it comes to choking hazards, it’s best to exercise caution.
Tiger Nuts can Cause Cough
Tiger nuts contain compounds like oxalates that may irritate the throat and trigger coughing in some people, especially if consumed in large amounts. The coarse, fibrous nature of tiger nuts can also scratch or irritate the throat, causing an annoying tickle that leads to coughing.
If you experience persistent coughing after eating tiger nuts, it’s best to avoid or limit them. You can also try soaking the tiger nuts in water before eating to soften them, which may help reduce throat irritation. Drinking plenty of water while consuming tiger nuts can also help clear your throat and wash away any irritating compounds. Antihistamines or throat lozenges may provide relief from tiger nut-induced coughing for some.
Nutritional Value of Tiger Nut
Tiger nuts are highly nutritious, though they do come with some disadvantages.
Tiger nuts contain roughly 50 raw tubers in a 1/4-cup, 1-ounce portion, which is equivalent to:
- 120 calories.
- 19 grams of carbohydrates.
- 7 grams of fat (mostly healthy monounsaturated fat).
- 10 grams of fiber.
- 1 to 2 grams of protein.
- 9 grams of sugar.
Tiger nuts can absolutely be part of a healthy diet when consumed in moderation and properly handled, but as with any food, it’s best to be aware of the pros and cons.
Health Benefits of Tiger Nuts
Tiger nuts, also known as chufas, provide several important health benefits, including:
Good for digestion
Their high fiber content aids digestion and helps relieve constipation. The starch in tiger nuts also acts as a prebiotic, feeding the good bacteria in your gut.
Reduces heart disease risk
The monounsaturated fats in tiger nuts may help lower cholesterol and reduce inflammation in the body, decreasing the risk of heart disease.
Controls blood sugar
Although tiger nuts have natural sugars, they have a low glycemic index. The glycemic index (GI) measures how quickly a food causes a rise in blood sugar after being eaten.
Their fiber and complex carbs help slow the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream, preventing energy crashes and spikes.
Improves skin and hair
Vitamin E acts as an antioxidant, protecting skin cells from damage. It may also promote hair growth and reduce inflammation. The fats provide moisture and softness.
The complex carbs and fiber in tiger nuts provide your body with steady energy that lasts for hours. The nutrients also support the production of neurotransmitters that regulate mood and motivation.
In summary, tiger nuts deserve superfood status due to their impressive nutritional profile and significant health benefits.
After reading through these potential downsides of tiger nuts, you may be rethinking adding them to your regular diet or rotation of snacks. While they do have some nutritional benefits when consumed in moderation, the high starch and fiber content can lead to discomfort for some.
As with any food, tiger nuts are best enjoyed occasionally and in reasonable portion sizes. Nothing is a miracle food, so make sure to get nutrients from a variety of whole foods and stay hydrated to aid digestion.