Tiger nut commonly called “ofio” by the Yoruba speaking people of Nigeria and “aya” by the hausas remains one of the rich and affordable sources of minerals and also vitamins E and C. It is highly nutritious and has high energy content. Previously, it was consumed by chewing on the tubers and sucking out the juice while discarding the chaff. But in more recent times the use of “ofio” has gone beyond sucking the juice.
A 30g serving of tiger nut contains the following; 19g carbohydrate, 2g protein, 7g fat, 10g fibre, 1.8mg Iron, 28mg Magnesium, 1.1mg Zinc, 215mg Potassium, 0.1mg Vitamin B6 and 120calories of energy. Regular consumption of this will keep the body very healthy.
Tiger nut is presently processed to give tiger nut “milk” and “fibre”. The “milk” is obtained by milling the tubers and extracting via squeezing. The resulting fibre is further used in various ways and has been incorporated in making high fibre breakfast meals.
Tiger nuts have a considerable amount of carbohydrate which is easily utilized by the body and it does not increase the level of stored sugar. Recent research has shown that consuming tiger nut prevents the risk of colon cancer. Tiger nut also has a high amount of minerals and even supply more than some other known fruits. They are rich in minerals such as phosphorous, potassium, calcium, magnesium and iron which are necessary for bone formation and development, tissue and muscle repair and for general body growth and development.
The milk obtained from tiger nut is highly recommended for diabetic patients because of the absence of glucose. The predominant carbohydrate in tiger nut is sucrose and starch. The milk also contains a high amount of arginine which aids the production of insulin. The milk is also a rich source of vitamin E which is essential for fertility in men and women.
The fibre of tiger nut is relatively high and can compare favourably to that obtained from oat bran, carrot and even cabbage. The fibre helps prevent constipation. Dietary fibre present in tiger nut also is good in preventing the occurrence of diabetes. The high level of sucrose and fibre makes tiger nut a good substitute for carbohydrates that raise the blood sugar levels.
Another important by-product from tiger nut is the oil. Tiger nut oil has been proven to contain as much oleic acid as found in olive oil. It also contains a low amount of poly unsaturated fatty acid. Its qualities have extended the use of the oil even to culinary uses.
Though a predominantly classified as a root crop with high quality carbohydrate, tiger nut also has some quality protein which can supply the body with a portion of the protein RDA. It contains a high profile of amino acid which is above standards set by the WHO.
Tiger nuts also serve as prebiotics in the digestive tract. It is very useful in stabilizing the microflora of the digestive tract and promoting growth of beneficial micro-organisms thereby preventing bloating.
From being just a weed, this one time underutilized crop has become a well sought after commodity because of the varied nutritional and health benefits.
The tiger nuts also does not contain lactose a complex carbohydrates that can only be found in the mammary gland of lactating female mammals in varying degrees depending on the species of animals or humans alike.
This makes it suitable for people who suffer what we call Lactose intolerant due to the fact that their body does not produce enough Lactase an enzyme responsible for the digestion of lactose in the intestines thereby it finds its way to the bowel where thereare high activities of microorganisms that feeds on these sugar bringing about the creation of gas leading to constipation and flatulence after. Tigernuts like I earlier pointed out is good for the regulation of bowel microflora and the people who suffer this intolerance Will do well with taking Tigernuts non diary milk as their substitute for milk.
There are claims also of Tiger nuts being able to increase libido of men and women respectively by particularly people from the Northern parts of Nigeria but such claims are yet to under a scientific research and study.