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African Journal of Food, Agriculture, Nutrition and Development

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Tiger nut: as a plant, its derivatives and benefits

EI Bamishaiye, OM Bamishaiye

Abstract


Tiger nut (Cyperus esculentus var. sativa) as a plant, its derivatives/uses and benefits are mainly discussed. The hunt for lesser known and un-exploited crops, many of which are potentially valuable as human and animal foods has been on the high side now to retain the equilibrium between population growth and agricultural productivity, particularly in the tropical and sub-tropical areas of the world. Tiger nut is an underutilized crop of the family Cyperaceae, which produces rhizomes from the base and tubers that are somewhat spherical. Pollination is by wind. Young tubers are white, while older tubers are covered by a yellow outer membrane; they are usually found within six inches of the ground surface. Vegetative colonies of its plants are often produced from the tubers and their rhizomes. They are usually preserved by sun drying for about three months before storage. It can be eaten raw, dried, roasted, or grated and can be subjected to further processing. Its uses in cooking and as fuel, baking flour, fish baits; milk in lieu of cow’s milk are outlined. Regarding the plant high percentage of carbohydrates (mono- and di-), fibre, and oil (especially oleic acid) and its moderately high level of protein, minerals (calcium, magnesium, iron and phosphorous), and vitamins C and E makes it a good source of food for humans and animals. It is a cheap source of nutrition for both the rich and the poor. The health benefits reflect reduction of low density lipoprotein-cholesterol, which is good for sports’ men and women and those intending to lose weight; it is also said to serve as a cure for flatulence and diarrhea, and as control against heart attacks, thrombosis and colon cancer, among others. The presence of anti-nutrients like polyphenols and tannins can be eliminated by boiling in water. The tiger nut, though under-utilized, is still a good food snack for all. There is a need for awareness creation on tiger nut’s inherent nutritional properties.
Key words: nut, nutrition, tuber, health, benefit



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