Tiger nut Milk, also known as Kunu Aya in Hausa land, Horchata de Chufa in Spain and Atadwe in Ghana, is a drink made from small tuberous rhizomes which are called yellow nutsedge or earth almonds (Cyperus esculentus).
Contrary to popular belief, Tiger nuts aren’t really nuts; they are tubers that grow under the soil’s surface. The little tubers, which are called Chufa in Spanish, were nicknamed tiger nuts due to their striped appearance.
Fresh tiger nuts generally have a sweet, nutty flavor and a fibrous texture that is an exciting combination of crisp and chewy. The milk gotten from this nut is used to make the well-loved Tiger nut drink which is popular among the Hausas as Kunu Aya and among the Spanish people (particularly in Valencia) as Horchata de Chufa.
Alongside its creamy and refreshing taste, this drink, as well as its nuts, has numerous health benefits.
1. Rich in Fiber
A 2009 study conducted by the University of Miguel Hernandez, Orihuela, Spain shows that 100g tiger nut flour contains around 60 g dietary fiber. Fibers aid digestion, facilitate weight loss, add bulk to faeces and facilitate easy transit of waste materials. The high insoluble dietary fiber present in tiger nut flour regulates blood sugar levels and helps the diabetic patients remain healthy. It is also rich in monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA) which boosts glycemic tolerance making it an excellent anti-diabetic agent. Tiger nuts are also effective in the treatment of stomach upset, flatulence, diarrhea and other digestive problems.
2. A Healthy Milk Substitute
For those who are lactose intolerant, the creamy Tiger nut Milk is a healthy option as it is lactose-free. Just like regular milk, it is rich in calcium which is necessary for bone and teeth building and growth in young children.
Tiger nuts are relatively non-allergenic. As they are plant-based their milk contains no lactose. On the other hand they are not nuts nor grains and as such are gluten-free. Only two case studies have been found with regards to allergenicity with one involving pollen-food syndrome (oral allergy syndrome) and the other involving a person who was allergic to chufa sedge grass pollen who experienced a similar reaction when eating a tiger nut. It is believed that the second case may have occurred because pollen contaminated the tuber.
4. Rich Source of Vitamins and Nutrients
Recent studies suggest that tiger nuts are loaded with vitamins and minerals, especially vitamins C and E and potassium and phosphorus. Vitamin E and C are antioxidants and as such, help rid the body of free radicals which can lead to health complications. It is also a rich source of magnesium which is needed for many biochemical processes in the human body. Magnesium also helps in normalizing blood pressure, strengthening bones and keeping one in overall good health.
5. Protects Against Cardiovascular Diseases
Tiger nuts are rich in Vitamin E which increase oxidative resistance and prevents atherosclerosis. Tiger nuts are also rich in arginine which helps in unclogging clogged arteries, reducing angina (chest pain) and solving other heart related issues.
6. Cures Erectile Dysfunction and Increases Libido
This is one of the most lauded benefits of Tiger nuts. Thanks to their high Arginine content, tiger nuts are effective in improving the problem of erectile dysfunction (ED). Atadwe (Tiger nut milk) has been a popular treatment for ED among natives of Ghana as they believe it helps them last longer in bed, boots sperm count and aids fertility. Nigerian men also believe it is a natural aphrodisiac (especially when combined with dates). Like the Ghanaians, they believe it increases sperm count and libido and helps with erectile dysfunction. Researchers from Jordan and Saudi Arabia carried out experiments to that effect using sexually active male rats. At the end of the research, it was observed that the rats treated with tiger nut flour had more frequent and prolonged sexual activity than the control. Their testosterone levels also went up. It was then established that tiger nut had positive effects on the copulatory behavior thanks to the Vitamin C, Arginine, Quercetin, Vitamin E and Zinc it contains. So bottoms up, gentlemen.
7. Rich Non-Meat Protein Source
Proteins are the building blocks of life as they play a crucial role in building bones, muscles, cartilage, skin and blood. Tiger nuts are one of the richest sources of non-meat protein that supplies surplus energy essential for various activities. As proteins are vital for muscle building, body builders, weight builders, people that want to grow their posterior region through exercise etc. would benefit immensely from the rich protein reserve of Tiger nuts and Tiger nut milk. So you can sometimes swap your protein shakes for this refreshing drink.