Tiger Nuts: A Healthy Snack You Have Yet to Try

Tiger Nuts


Is there a trendy new snack on supermarket shelves? When you get tired of munching on tree nuts, you have another option. Tiger nuts! What are they? Tiger nuts are sometimes called earth almonds. They’re a tuberous crop grown mainly in the Mediterranean and South Asian countries. They’re popular in Asia, especially in China, and people on the African continent enjoy them as a convenient snack. But they’re also making a splash in the United States. With a taste like tree nuts, tiger nuts are a tasty and healthy way to crunch.

Although the name implies, they’re a nut, tiger nuts are a root vegetable about the size of a chickpea with a chewy interior. The taste is a bit sweeter than a tree nut, making them an appealing snack for any time of day. You can buy them peeled or unpeeled and enjoy them directly from the package.

Why should you give tiger nuts a try? Their protein content makes them nutritious as a food source, particularly for people who follow a vegetarian or vegan diet. The edible crop is also popular as an ingredient in bakery products, like bread and cakes. You can boil or roast them, like peanuts, or enjoy them raw. They’re a nutrient-dense addition to smoothies too. The texture is crunchy, but not in a typical peanut-like way.

You might wonder whether tiger nuts are a healthy snack and whether there are pros and cons to eating them. Let’s look at how eating tiger nuts could affect your health, and whether they’re a wholesome snack to munch on.

Tiger Nuts Are Nutritious

Tiger nuts are a nutrient-rich food that is rich in fiber, vitamins, minerals, and other beneficial plant compounds. The minerals they contain include magnesium, zinc, and iron. If you allow them to germinate or sprout, it boosts their antioxidant levels and increases absorption of the vitamins and minerals in tiger nuts too. Sprouting these crunchy nuts also makes them more digestible.

Tiger nuts are an excellent source of insoluble fiber, a type of fiber that lowers the risk of constipation. Good bowel function is important for health, including immune and brain health. With more people eating a vegan diet, tiger nuts are a decent source of plant-based protein with around 2 grams of protein per ounce.

The nutritional breakdown of tiger nuts per ounce is

Calories: 120 to 140 calories

Carbohydrates: 17 grams

Fat: 7 grams

Protein: 2 grams

Tiger Nuts May Improve Blood Glucose Control

Another problem common among men and women after 50 is prediabetes or type 2 diabetes. That’s why maintaining a healthy blood sugar level is so important. You can do that by eating mostly whole foods without refined carbohydrates and added sugar to your plate. So, a handful of tiger nuts is a good alternative to chips.

Studies in animals show that tiger nuts may help with blood sugar control. The reason? They contain arginine, an amino acid that helps control blood sugar in animal studies. According to Medline Plus, arginine helps with blood sugar control in human type 2 diabetics. The fiber content of tiger nuts is also favorable for controlling blood glucose. They help regulate blood sugar levels by preventing blood sugar spikes that occur with meals.

Tiger Nuts Are Gut Friendly

Digestive issues are common in people of all ages. If digestive issues stem from an unhealthy gut microbiome, tiger nuts can help. Tiger nuts contain resistant starch, a type of fiber that healthy gut bacteria like to feed on. When they do, they proliferate and enhance the gut microbiome.

Studies show that resistant starch also helps keep the lining of the intestinal tract healthy by lowering its pH, or acid-base balance, and by reducing inflammation. In addition, the insoluble fiber in tiger nuts supports healthy bowel function. Plus, resistant starch helps you stay full longer relative to eating foods lower in fiber. So rich in soluble and insoluble fiber are tiger nuts that you should introduce them into your diet slowly to avoid gas and bloating.

Tiger Nuts Contain Phytoestrogens

Of interest to women is the phytoestrogen content of tiger nuts. Phytoestrogens are natural compounds in plants with weak estrogen-like activity, meaning they mimic the effects of estrogen in the human body. Because phytoestrogens are weaker than the estrogens women produce naturally, they may block some of the harmful effects of estrogen on breast tissue. Could the phytoestrogens in tiger nuts lower the risk of breast cancer? It’s unclear, but there is evidence that phytoestrogens in other foods, like soy, may.

Tiger Nuts Are a Healthier Alternative to Chips

So many people snack on chips, a carbohydrate-heavy snack that sends blood sugar soaring. With tiger nuts, you get the crunch without the blood sugar spike. As mentioned, tiger nuts may help with blood glucose control in people with type 2 diabetes. So, hide the chips and bring out the tiger nuts! They’re a delicious change of pace too.

The Bottom Line

One way to make tiger nuts more digestible is to sprout them first, but you can enjoy them by the handful straight from the container or bag. You can also buy tiger nut flour and use it in baking for more fiber and resistant starch. If you’re lactose intolerant, tiger nut milk is available in some areas as a substitute for dairy milk. Give tiger nuts a try! You might discover you like them as well as chips, and you’ll enjoy a more nutritious snack.


  • “L-Arginine: MedlinePlus Supplements.” 28 Dec. 2020, medlineplus.gov/druginfo/natural/875.html.
  • Bamishaiye EI and Bamishaiye OM. Tiger Nut: As A Plant, Its Derivatives and Benefits. Af J Food Agric Nutr Dev. 2011;11(5).
  • “Breast Cancer Cell Apoptosis with Phytoestrogens Is ….” cancerpreventionresearch.aacrjournals.org/content/7/9/939.
  • Al-Mana NM, Robertson MD. Acute Effect of Resistant Starch on Food Intake, Appetite and Satiety in Overweight/Obese Males. Nutrients. 2018 Dec 15;10(12):1993. doi: 10.3390/nu10121993. PMID: 30558330; PMCID: PMC6316739.
  • “Chemical analysis of tiger nut (Cyperus esculentis ….” onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/jsfa.2740500214.

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