Healthy diets don’t change over time—but some food and ingredient trends are continually changing. As health professionals, your clients expect you to have all the answers when it comes to the latest food trends. To keep you in the know, we are offering updates on "ingredients in the news." This issue’s featured ingredient: tiger nuts.
Tiger nuts, also called yellow sedge, earth almond, and chufa, are not actually nuts, but tubers.
Tiger nuts are enjoying a modern renaissance, though they are an ancient food source. Dried tiger nuts have been found in ancient Egyptian tombs, and some archaeologists posit that an early ancestor of humans, nicknamed “Nutcracker Man,” survived primarily on these energy-dense tubers. In more recent history, tiger nuts are the primary ingredient in the traditional Spanish beverage, horchata de chufa.
Is "Chufa" Good for You?
From a nutrition perspective, tiger nuts truly are a cross between tubers and nuts. Though technically tubers, tiger nuts are higher in fat like nuts.
Tiger nut oil has a similar fat profile to olive oil and is high in the healthful monounsaturated fatty acid, oleic acid. Yet like tubers, tiger nuts are higher in starches and lower in protein compared to most nuts. Exact nutritionals vary depending on the source, but they typically provide a good source of fiber.*
Nut-Free Nuts: Some institutions, including schools, limit nuts on premises for the safety of people with allergies. Because they are tubers, tiger nuts can provide a similar eating experience to nuts without introducing the same allergens.
Grain-Free, Plant-Based, or Both
Popular diets often call for eliminating grains to reduce total carbohydrate, to reduce gluten, or to avoid other perceived negative features of grain foods. Tiger nuts, pressed to an oil or ground into flour, provide another option for cooking or baking while adhering to a gluten-free or grain-free diet. Tiger nuts are also a plant-based way to enjoy a crunchy snack. Tiger nuts can be eaten raw, either dry or soaked overnight to soften.
*Note: Always advise clients to check the food label for the most accurate information.
Disclaimer: Conagra Nutrition does not provide medical advice. Information is intended for educational purposes only. For specific nutrition guidance, please consult your regular healthcare provider or a registered dietitian.