Tiger nuts, also known as chufa, yellow nutsedge or earth almonds, are not actually nuts, but rather edible tubers.
Tiger nuts were one of the first plants cultivated in Egypt and traditionally used as both food and medicine.
They’re rich in a variety of nutrients and have been linked to several health benefits — ranging from better digestion to a reduced risk of heart disease.
Here are 6 emerging health benefits of tiger nuts.
Tiger nuts contain a variety of nutrients and beneficial plant compounds.
Their specific nutrient content depends on the type. There are three main varieties of tiger nuts: black, brown and yellow.
On average, one ounce (28 grams) provides (1):
- Calories: 103–121
- Fiber: 2–7 grams
- Carbs: 9 grams
- Protein: 1 gram
- Fat: 7–9 grams
- Vitamin E: 278% of the daily value (DV)
- Iron: 13–40% of the DV
- Phosphorus: 9–11% of the DV
- Vitamin C: 2–8% of the DV
- Magnesium: 7% of the DV
- Zinc: 5–7% of the DV
- Potassium: 3–5% of the DV
- Calcium: 1% of the DV
Research shows that germinating tiger nuts prior to eating them increases their antioxidant content (4Trusted Source).
That said, tiger nuts also contain antinutrients, such as phytates, oxalates, saponins and tannins, which can reduce nutrient absorption in your gut.
Germinating or roasting the tubers prior to eating reduces their antinutrient levels, making it easier for your body to absorb and use the many nutrients they contain (5).
Tiger nuts may promote a healthy digestion in various ways.
For starters, they are high in insoluble fiber, which passes through your gut without being digested. Insoluble fiber adds bulk to your stools and helps food move through your gut easily, reducing the likelihood of constipation (1, 6Trusted Source).
Moreover, tiger nuts may contain enzymes, such as catalases, lipases and amylases, which help break down foods in your gut, relieving gas, indigestion and diarrhea (7).
Keep in mind that the high fiber content of tiger nuts may initially cause unpleasant gas or bloating. Those interested in trying them should increase their portions gradually.
Tiger nuts may help keep your blood sugar levels in check.
Animal studies show that tiger nut extract may help reduce blood sugar levels. This may, in large part, be due to the high fiber content of the tubers which may slow down the absorption of sugar in the gut (5).
Tiger nuts are also rich in the amino acid arginine, which may increase insulin production and sensitivity, both of which are important for blood sugar control (8Trusted Source, 9Trusted Source, 10Trusted Source).
Moreover, test-tube studies show that tiger nut extract may inhibit the action of carb-digesting enzymes in your gut.
As a result, less sugar may be absorbed from your gut in a way similar to the action of some blood-sugar-lowering diabetic medications. This is thought to potentially lower blood sugar levels, though more research in humans is needed (11Trusted Source).
Tiger nuts may also be good for the health of your heart.
Diets rich in monounsaturated fats are linked to lower levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol and higher levels of “good” HDL cholesterol. They are also associated with a lower risk of heart attack, stroke and death from heart disease (15Trusted Source, 16Trusted Source).
What’s more, tiger nuts are rich in the amino acid arginine. Arginine can promote heart health because your body can use it to make nitric oxide, a compound that helps arteries and veins dilate, hence lowering blood pressure (17Trusted Source, 18Trusted Source).
Research also links tiger nuts to better blood circulation and a lower likelihood of blood clots — both of which can reduce your risk of heart disease (7).
Tiger nuts may contribute to a stronger immune system.
In one test-tube study, tiger nut extracts were tested against several types of bacteria that can infect humans. The extract was effective against E. coli, Staphylococcus and Salmonella bacteria (19Trusted Source).
Another cell study found similar results. The researchers added that tiger nut extracts might also be effective at fighting antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections (20Trusted Source).
However, more studies are needed before strong conclusions can be drawn.
Tiger nuts have a history of being used to boost libido.
They’re used as aphrodisiacs in Ayurvedic medicine. In addition, men in Nigeria have used tiger nuts for generations to treat erectile dysfunction, increase sperm count and boost libido.
That said, few studies have investigated these supposed aphrodisiac properties.
One mouse study showed that tiger nuts helped preserve testicular weight and sperm production following heavy metal poisoning (21).
In a rat study, eating large amounts of tiger nuts for 30 days increased testosterone levels, boosted sexual activity and reduced intermission time between mating sessions (22Trusted Source).
However, there are no studies on using tiger nuts as an aphrodisiac in humans, so more research is needed before any conclusions can be made.