In Ghana, tiger nut is popularly known as atadwe. There are many stories surrounding this food but what you didn’t know is that tiger nut is not a nut -instead, it is a tuber just like cassava, potato and yam. There are so many surprising truths about this tuber. Atadwe is rumoured to aid with sexual problems? Is that true? Even if it is, is that all there is to this edible tuber? Journey with us, as we delve into it.
Tiger nut(atadwe) originates from ancient Egypt. It is a tuber because it grows underground in the root of plants. Tiger nuts were given its name because of its appearance: it has stripes like that of a tiger and it looks and tastes like a nut; being small, chewy and sweet. It comes in black, brown and yellow forms.
The scientific name of this edible tuber is Capernus esculentus. It is sometimes referred to as earth almonds because it tastes like an almond fruit. Tiger nut is a superfood. This means that it contains almost all the nutrients you need daily from a balanced diet and you can eat it as real food. This is good news to vegetarians who usually find difficulty in getting all the nutrients from plant-based products. An added advantage is that it contains less fat which is good for those who are trying to lose weight.
Tiger nuts can be made into different forms; dried, roasted, cooked. Aside from being eating in the raw form, it can be processed into products such as milk, flour, cookies, pancakes, ice cream, bread, etc. Its versatility is endless.
1. Contains high amounts of nutrients
We eat because we get hungry and we get hungry because our body needs nutrients to function well. Nutrients are fuel to the body. Without them, the body will break down. Some nutrients found in tiger nuts include:
These are the main food nutrients found in food and even though protein is low in tiger nuts, it is still present. Tiger nut is a good source of vitamins and minerals. These in general boost the immune system and reduce the risk of infection.
· Magnesium – this is involved in the formation of teeth and bones, muscle movement and nerve activity. It also activates over 300 enzymes in the body.
· Calcium – this is needed especially among children and pregnant women for strong bones and teeth. Calcium helps your blood to clot when you get injured and helps the nerves in your brain to communicate.
· Potassium- it helps to distribute water throughout the body and aid with the processing of carbohydrates.
These two are important for the growth of organisms. Once again, pregnant women and children.
· Zinc – this is needed for the correct growth of reproductive organs, especially during pregnancy. Zinc is needed to develop and grow the sense of smell and taste.
· Vitamin E – prevents the destruction of the red blood cells.
· Vitamin C – helps in the formation of collagen (good for the skin) and aids with iron absorption.
· Vitamin B – it contains B1, B2, B6, B9 which have varying functions. Generally, they help with the formation of blood cells, contain antibodies, break down energy, helps nerves to communicate, etc. Vitamin B3- niacin helps to generate sexual hormones.
2. . Improves digestion
Digestion is the process whereby food is broken down into smaller pieces for the body to absorb. Tiger nuts aid digestion in two ways:
· Fibre or popularly known as roughage is the substance that aids with digestion. It is usually found in fruits and vegetables such as apples, watermelon, cabbage, broccoli and so on. Luckily, tiger nuts contain a high amount of these fibres which are equally found in fruits and vegetables. For individuals who have issues with bloating and constipation, tiger nut is the right ingredient to relieve you of such discomforts. However, for those interested in tiger nut, it might first cause bloating because the fibres are too high and will act on food quickly but it will eventually improve digestion and reduce bloating.
· Furthermore, tiger nuts contain enzymes such as amylase-breaks down starch, lipase-breaks down fats and catalase-breaks down harmful hydrogen peroxide into oxygen and water.
3. Good alternative for lactose-intolerant people
Lactose is a sugar that is found in foods especially milk products. However, some people get discomfort, bloating, diarrhoea when they ingest milk and milk products. This is because the enzyme responsible for breaking down the lactose is either produced in tiny quantities which are too small to break down the lactose or the enzyme has been produced but does not work well. People with this condition are termed lactose intolerant.
Tiger nut milk does not contain lactose and can be taken by such individuals. It is especially healthy for pregnant women and children. During pregnancy, the body needs all the nutrients it can get to satisfy the mother and the baby. Children especially toddlers need tiger nuts to grow healthy and strong.
4. Used as an aphrodisiac
An aphrodisiac is a food or drink that stimulates sexual desires. Tiger nuts popularly known as atadwe is rumoured to help with sexual desires. This is true because niacin which is vitamin B3 helps to generate sexual hormones. Some studies conducted suggested that tiger nuts can be eaten continuously for a month to reduce erectile dysfunction and so on.
5. Improves heart conditions
It does this by maintaining healthy blood pressure. Arginine is an essential amino acid (protein) found in tiger nuts. This amino acid is needed to make a compound called nitric oxide- nitric oxide makes the veins and arteries dilate (become bigger) to reduce pressure and maintain normal blood flow.
Also, the fats present in atadwe is monosaturated. This type is usually linked with high levels of good cholesterol (HDL) and low levels of bad cholesterol (LDL). This subsequently lowers the risk of heart conditions.
In a nutshell, tiger nuts though cheap are expensive for the body: It boosts the immune system in more ways than normal, it contains enough nutrients to sustain you, it aids in digestion and can even act as an aphrodisiac. It is good for all age groups. The next time, you crave ice cream or junk food, get a tiger nut instead!
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