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The newest fiber-rich superfood isn’t actually a nut at all. A tiger nut, which tastes something like a coconut/almond hybrid, is actually a small root vegetable that resembles a shriveled peanut, roughly the size of a chickpea.
It has been suggested that the crop (cyperus esculentus) made up a large portion of ancient diets in the Eastern hemisphere, with records dating back to 4,000 years ago.
Perhaps it’s the connection to our ancestors that makes tiger nuts so appealing to today’s paleo-dieters. No matter what boosted the “nut” to mainstream popularity, its health benefits are undeniable:
1. They’re incredibly high in fiber.
As you’ve likely a heard countless times before, a fiber-rich diet is essential to digestive health. Fiber is also key to maintaining a healthy weight—high-fiber foods tend to be more filling than low-fiber foods, keeping you satisfied for longer and leaving you less likely to overeat. In addition, fiber-filled diets are proven to control your blood sugar levels and decrease your risk of developing certain types of cancer. (Related: Is It Possible to Have Too Much Fiber In Your Diet?)
2. They’re a great source of magnesium and potassium.
Magnesium is essential to more than 300 reactions in the human body, according to the National Institutes of Health. Potassium, meanwhile, reduces your risk of mortality by 20 percent. One serving of tiger nuts contains between 13-17 percent of your recommended daily magnesium and exceeds the potassium levels of a banana. (Related: The Benefits of Magnesium and How to Get More of It In Your Diet)
3. Tiger nut milk is a lactose-free dairy alternative.
Milk derived from the tiger nut is a perfect dairy substitute for people living with lactose intolerance. Like cow’s milk, tiger nut milk is rich in calcium.
You can buy pre-made tiger nut milk, or you can make it in your own kitchen. All you really need is a high-powered blender and a cheesecloth to strain the milk from the pureed tiger nuts. (Related: How to Make Homemade Nut Milk (Plus 3 Healthy Smoothie Recipes))
You can buy tiger nuts either peeled or unpeeled, though the peeled version tends to be softer and easier to eat by the handful. If you want to incorporate tiger nuts into your daily cooking, pre-made tigernut flour is available online and makes a great AP flour alternative for paleo cookies or pancakes.
This story originally appeared on MyRecipes.com by Corey Williams.