Every food comes with its own set of disadvantages or potential downsides, and tiger nuts are certainly no exception. Tiger nuts, also known as earth almonds or chufa nuts, are not actually nuts as the name implies, but small root vegetables known as tubers.
They have been a staple food in Africa, Spain, and other parts of the world for ages and have recently gained significant attention due to their numerous health benefits.
These little tubers are packed with nutrients and provide a good source of fibre, plant-based protein, healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals. They are also gluten-free and suitable for those following a paleo or nut-free diet.
However, like any other food, tiger nuts may also come with some side effects or disadvantages that you should be aware of before consuming them. Here are some of the possible side effects or disadvantages of tiger nuts:
Side Effects or Disadvantages of Tiger Nuts
1. Allergic Reactions
Allergies occur when your immune system mistakenly identifies a harmless substance as harmful and releases chemicals to fight against it. In the case of tiger nuts, some individuals who are sensitive to them or to other plants in the same family, such as sedge or nut grass, may experience allergic reactions such as itching, hives, swelling, or difficulty breathing. If you have known allergies to other nuts or seeds, it's wise to exercise caution when trying tiger nuts for the first time.
2. High Fibre Content
Tiger nuts are very high in fibre content, which can be beneficial for your gut health and bowel movements, but also cause some digestive discomfort if you eat too many of them or are not used to them. Excess fibre intake may lead to bloating, gas, cramps, diarrhea, or constipation. To avoid these problems, start with a small amount of tiger nuts and increase your intake gradually, while also drinking plenty of water to help the fibre move through your digestive system.
3. High in Calories
Tiger nuts are naturally rich in fats and carbohydrates, which contribute to their caloric value. While this can be beneficial for individuals who need a quick energy boost, it may not be ideal for those trying to lose or maintain weight – You read that right. Consuming tiger nuts in large quantities can lead to an excess intake of calories, which can contribute to your total weight gain over time. Therefore, if you're watching your calorie intake or following a strict diet plan, it's important to consume tiger nuts in moderation.
4. High in Anti-Nutrients
Anti-nutrients are naturally occurring substances found in certain foods that can inhibit the body's ability to absorb essential nutrients like vitamins and minerals. Tiger nuts contain specific anti-nutrients such as phytic acid and tannins that can hinder the absorption of minerals like iron, calcium and zinc from other foods consumed alongside them. Antinutrients are common in many plant foods and are not usually a concern for most people who eat a balanced and varied diet. However, if you have a mineral deficiency or are at risk of developing one, you may want to limit your intake of tiger nuts or soak them before eating to reduce their antinutrient content.
5. Dry Cough
Some individuals have reported experiencing a dry cough after eating raw tiger nut products due to chaff particles. The chaff can cause throat irritation and trigger the urge to cough when swallowed. If you are prone to experiencing dry coughs or have a sensitive respiratory system, it might be best to consume tiger nuts in moderation.
Benefits of Tiger Nuts
We cannot talk about the side effects of tiger nuts without shedding light on its numerous health benefits and nutritional value that come along with them.
Here are seven reasons why you should consider adding tiger nuts to your diet:
- Nutrient-rich: Tiger nuts are packed with essential nutrients like vitamins E and C, potassium, magnesium, and iron. These nutrients play a vital role in supporting overall health and well-being.
- Rich fibre content: Fibre is crucial for maintaining a healthy digestive system. Tiger nuts contain both soluble and insoluble fibre, which can help regulate bowel movements and prevent constipation.
- Regulates blood sugar levels: The high fibre content combined with its low glycemic index makes tiger nut consumption beneficial for maintaining stable blood sugar levels, making it suitable for individuals with diabetes or those looking to manage blood sugar spikes.
- Boost heart health: The high content of monounsaturated fats found in tiger nuts can help lower bad cholesterol levels (LDL) and increase good cholesterol levels (HDL). This can significantly reduce the risk of heart disease and improve overall cardiovascular health.l
- Rich in antioxidants: Antioxidants play a crucial role in protecting our cells from damage caused by free radicals. Tiger nuts contain high levels of antioxidants such as vitamin E, which helps combat oxidative stress and reduce the risk of chronic diseases.
- May aid weight loss efforts: Tiger nuts are high in fibre, which helps keep you feeling full and satisfied. Additionally, they contain resistant starch, a type of carbohydrate that resists digestion and promotes feelings of fullness and reduces overeating tendencies. This means that fewer calories from tiger nuts are absorbed into the bloodstream, making them a great option for those looking to shed some pounds.
- Anti-inflammatory effects: Tiger nut consumption has been linked to reduced inflammation levels in the body due to its antioxidant properties, potentially lowering the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease or diabetes.
- Helps improve fertility: Tiger nuts have been associated with improved fertility due to their rich content of vitamins C & E, zinc, magnesium, calcium, potassium & phosphorous- all essential nutrients for reproductive health.
- Strengthens bones: The presence of minerals like calcium, magnesium,& phosphorus ensures strong bones & teeth. Consuming tiger nuts regularly could be especially beneficial for individuals at risk of osteoporosis or other bone-related conditions.
- Gluten-free: Tiger nuts are naturally gluten-free and suitable for individuals with gluten sensitivities or celiac disease. They can be enjoyed by those following a gluten-free diet without any worries about adverse reactions.
What do Tiger Nuts Taste Like?
When you first bite into a tiger nut, you'll notice its crunchy texture and slightly sweet taste. Some people say they resemble almonds or coconut milk in flavour. Others describe them as having a nutty and earthy taste with hints of vanilla.
They taste really sweet which is why it’s popular among people looking for healthier alternatives to satisfy their sweet tooth cravings. However, even though tiger nuts has a really sweet taste, they are known to contain small amounts of sugar (5g per ounce).
How Many Tiger Nuts Should I Eat a Day?
A good starting point is to consume about 1-2 ounces of tiger nuts per day. This amounts to roughly 30-60 grams or equivalent to a small handful. By keeping your portions in check, you can enjoy the benefits without overdoing it.
Remember that moderation is crucial when adding any food to your diet. While tiger nuts offer numerous health benefits, excessive consumption could lead to weight gain or digestive discomfort due to their high fibre content as well as other potential side effects.
Tiger nuts are a nutritious and delicious snack that offers numerous health benefits. They are packed with fibre, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that promote digestive health, heart health, and overall well-being. However, it's important to be aware of potential side effects or disadvantages that may arise from consuming tiger nuts.
Despite the potential side effects mentioned above, the overall benefits of consuming tiger nuts in moderation outweigh the disadvantages for most people. As always, it's essential to listen to your body and consult a healthcare professional if you have any concerns or pre-existing medical conditions before adding new foods to your diet.