Despite their name, tigernuts are actually tubers that grow in the ground, but they share characteristics with both tubers and nuts. They are about twice as starchy as other tubers, such as potatoes and sweet potatoes, but like nuts, they are also pretty fatty. Most of their fat consists of unsaturated fat (which we generally try to avoid), but they also contain a fair amount of saturated fat (which is good).
Saturated v. Unsaturated Fats
Saturated fat is preferable to unsaturated fat because it is much more stable. When unsaturated fat is exposed to light and heat, it tends to oxidize, which is dangerous. Consuming oxidized fat tends to lead to an increase in oxidized cholesterol in our blood stream, which in turn is more likely to latch onto the interior of our arteries, causing inflammation and plaque, both precursors to heart disease.
The fat and protein contained in tigernuts also help slow down our bodies’ digestion of all those carbohydrates. They prevent a spike in blood sugar, which is good because a spike tends to lead to a crash, leaving us feeling tired and cranky and craving more carbs. Spikes in blood sugar also result in a corresponding spike in insulin to deal with all that sugar. Chronically high insulin levels lead to insulin resistance, a precursor to diabetes and all of the health issues that come with it.
As far as micronutrients go, tigernuts aren’t too shabby there, either. They contain an impressive amount of phosphorous, potassium, vitamin E, and vitamin C. Because living a Paleo lifestyle is all about eating nutrient-dense foods, tigernuts can certainly be included as part of that lifestyle, we just don’t recommend eating too many of them at once.
Mark Sisson gave tigernuts his Primal seal of approval here.