Tiger nuts are a street snack in Nigeria. The main vendors of this food are the Hausa-Fulani. They move from place to place with wheelbarrows full of them. Tiger nuts are so popular that the three major ethnic groups in Nigeria have different names for it. The Igbo call it aki Hausa. The Hausa-Fulani call it aya while the Yoruba refer to it as imumu.
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However, the fact that this food is found in most streets in the country doesn’t mean that we know all there is to know about it. In fact, I have discovered that most people do not give much thought to the food they eat. They simply eat what they like and avoid what they don’t. So, I have decided to enlighten you on tiger nuts. Here are 6 interesting things that you do not know about this food:
Tiger nuts are not nuts.
They are classified as root vegetable. They grow underground and the tubers grow to the size of peanuts. This is the only connection between tiger nuts and actual nuts. The name is because of its stripy, tiger-print like exterior.
They have been around for centuries
Tiger nuts are actually many centuries old. The Egyptians are alleged to be the first to have cultivated it. The food has been found in the stomachs of mummies. Ancient Egyptians roasted them, served them with honey, and boiled them in beer. They even engraved drawings of this root vegetable on their tombs.
Both fresh and dried tiger nuts are available in Nigeria
Oh yes, we have both fresh and dried ones. Both are quite sweet to munch. The dried ones are hard to chew; if they are soaked in water for some hours, they become rehydrated and soft enough to eat.
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Tiger nuts are rich in nutrients
Different nutrients and beneficial plant compounds can be found in this root plant. Fifty chickpea pieces of plain, raw tiger nuts contain 120 calories, 10 grams of fibre, 9 grams of naturally occurring sugars, tons of vitamins and minerals such as magnesium and iron, and 7 grams of fat most of which is oleic acid, a mono- unsaturated fat. Research has shown that oleic acid can help reduce one’s appetite and aid weight loss.
Its milk can replace cow milk
Those who are lactose intolerant, pay attention. Tiger nut milk is natural. It does not contain lactose but it has lots of calcium. So, you can make the switch from cow milk to tiger nut milk without any side effect.
It can aid weight loss
Fibre is present in all diets that help in weight loss. Tiger nuts have very high resistant starch fibre content. Resistant starch passes through the stomach and small intestine without being digested. They can aid weight loss by reducing blood sugar spikes and keeping you fuller for a longer time. Weight watchers would therefore find tiger nuts a worthwhile addition to their menu.
With this information under your belt, you can now eat or drink tiger nut milk with relish.
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