Tiger almonds have been well known and appreciated in Spain since the Middle Ages. In Germany the small nuts are still an insider tip, which can be used in the kitchen however very versatilely. Tiger almonds are not only gluten and lactose free, but also tasty and long lasting.
Due to their natural sweetness, they are an ideal ingredient for baked goods, muesli, drinks, ice cream or stews. They are also considered to be very healthy because they are rich in vital and fibre substances. They can promote digestion and prevent gastrointestinal diseases, and they can contribute to better performance at school and at work.
Tiger Almond – No Nut And No Almond Either
The term tiger almond (Cyperus esculentus, also known as tigernut) describes not only the fruits, but also the plant itself. And although the name suggests it, it is neither a walnut nor a stone fruit like almonds. Rather, the tiger almond is assigned to the sour grass family.
It is therefore a grass. At its roots, brown nodules about the size of a heir are formed. The tiger almonds. In the trade they are to be found as tiger almond products in dried and ground (tiger almond flour) form.
The name “tiger almond” can be traced back to the taste of an almond.
The tiger almond probably has its original home in Africa, where the small miracle nodules have been used for thousands of years as food and as a remedy. In ancient Egypt the tiger almond was ascribed a very special importance, which is also shown by finds in pharaoh graves. In addition, the small nodules are cooked in beer or eaten together with honey as a dessert.
The Arabs brought the tiger almond to Spain around the 8th century AD. From here it also made its way to America, where it is still cultivated today.
Although the tiger almond can look back on a long history, it is still quite unknown in Europe. But in Spain it takes a special value, here annually on an area of approximately 900 hectares 9,000 tons of tiger almonds are harvested. They are mainly used for the production of tiger nut milk (“Horchata de Chufa”).
Tiger Almonds Are Small Nutritional Wonders
The small tiger almond nodules, which are located underground, are actually the nutrient stores for the plant. However, humans can also benefit from the ingredients. Thus the following nutrients and vital substances are contained in 100 grams of tiger almonds:
- 25 grams of fat in the form of monounsaturated, polyunsaturated and saturated fatty acids
- 62 grams of carbohydrates, of which about 33 grams are fiber
- 8 grams protein
However, a distinction is made in yellow, brown and black tigernuts. There are differences with regard to the nutrient content. Yellow almonds should be preferred in the diet, as they are not only larger than the other two varieties, but also contain more fibre and secondary plant substances such as flavonoids. In addition, they are not as fatty.
Tiger almonds are still considered to be very rich in vitamins and minerals. The following vitamins and minerals can be found in 100 grams of the small nodules:
- 13 milligrams vitamin E (antioxidant with cell protecting effect)
- 700 milligrams of potassium (30 percent of the recommended daily intake, important for nerves and regulation of blood pressure and for muscle and heart function)
- 150 milligrams of calcium (20 percent of the recommended daily intake, necessary for bones, teeth, lungs, kidneys and heart)
- 60 milligrams of magnesium (35 percent of the recommended daily intake, important for energy metabolism and the transmission of nerve impulses to muscles, as well as muscle contraction and enzyme functions)
- 120 milligrams of phosphorus (20 percent of the recommended daily dose, together with calcium important for bone and tooth firmness and for energy production)
- also: vitamin C and H, chromium, iron, copper, manganese, zinc and the enzymes amylase, catalase and lipase
Tiger almonds also contain the secondary plant substance rutin, which is known to protect against free radicals and thereby counteract circulatory disorders and venous diseases.
Tiger almonds and their positive properties
Within the scope of a study at Ladoke Akintola University of Technology (Nigeria), the researchers were able to assign the following positive properties to the tiger almond:
- diuretic and bloating
In their investigations, the scientists found that tiger almonds can be helpful in stomach upsets, flatulence, diarrhoea, dysentery or excessive thirst. They are also said to be able to activate the blood circulation, thereby counteracting thromboses and heart diseases. In addition, tiger almonds can probably have a positive effect in the prevention and treatment of urinary tract infections.
Despite its natural sweetness, tiger almond milk is also suitable for diabetics because it contains carbohydrates based on starch and sucrose as well as a high proportion of L-arginine. L-arginine, on the other hand, has been shown to stimulate the production of insulin as an amino acid and thus contribute to a significant reduction in insulin resistance. Since L-arginine is also said to have a vasodilatory effect, high blood pressure can probably be reduced, which in turn reduces the risk of arteriosclerosis.
Earth Almonds Can Be Used In Many Ways
In the kitchen, tigernuts are regarded as true all-round talents. Depending on maturity and degree of drying, they have a delicate sweet to bitter aroma. When used in the kitchen, there are no limits to the imagination, because the healthy tiger almond can be used in many ways.
Although Tiger Nuts are very hard, they can also be eaten raw in dried form. In the meantime, peeled tiger almonds are available on the market, which are much easier to chew, but also contain less fibre. However, it is advisable to soak the tiger almonds in water for at least four hours to a maximum of one day before eating or processing them, which makes chewing the small nodules easier.
The naturally sweet tiger almonds fit perfectly into the morning muesli. They can be stirred into drinks either pure or roasted, or they can be used to refine sauces and soups. They can also be used in vegetable stews and salads, and delicious pesto can also be prepared with the small nodules.
Tiger almonds are also a very welcome substitute for nut allergy sufferers and people with wheat intolerance. Both tiger almond flakes and tiger almond flour are ideal for bread or baked goods such as cakes and biscuits. Tiger almond flour and tiger almond milk can even be used to make delicious ice cream.
Those who also cannot tolerate cow’s milk can easily replace it with tiger almond milk in recipes. Tiger almond oil is also available, which can also be used in many different ways. It is suitable for salad dressings as well as for cooking and frying.
At the I’Hospital Universitari Arnau de Vilanova, further health benefits of tiger almonds have been discovered in studies. The small nodules are supposed to promote concentration and alleviate headaches as well as prevent dizziness.
Whoever uses tiger almonds for the first time should get used to the higher amounts of fibre and minerals as slowly as possible.
A daily amount of 20 grams (about three tablespoons) should not be exceeded. If you want to use the increased feeling of satiety caused by tiger almonds for weight reduction, you should take one tablespoon of tiger almond flakes with your main meals.
A slow start of five to ten grams per day is recommended. The amount can then be slowly increased to a maximum of 20 grams.
Since dietary fibres bind liquid, it is important to ensure that you have a sufficient supply of liquid when consuming tiger almonds.