TIGER nut has long been used to augment diets, since a substantial intake decreased reported cases of various health-related conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and obesity. In fact, men have used tiger nuts for generations to treat erectile dysfunction, increase sperm count and boost libido.
Now, scientists in a study on tigernut’s nutraceutical and benefits said its extracts at high concentrations exhibited marked antimicrobial effects, substantiating its consumption as beneficial in preventing and treating urinary tract and bacterial infection.
In a study, researchers found that methanol and ethyl acetate extracts of tiger nut exhibited a broad-spectrum antibacterial activity on urinary tract infection (UTI) causing bacteria with the highest activity recorded for methanolic extract. These diseases causing germs were Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus aureus and Klebsiella pneumonia.
All plant extracts showed antimicrobial activities against the selected microorganisms at various concentrations. The susceptibility of these isolates towards the tiger nut extracts were compared with each other and with gentamycin, which was used as a positive control.
Besides, antioxidant and vitamins composition assessment of its different extracts indicated that tiger nut contained an appreciable amount of these vitamins. However, the concentrations of these vitamins (A, C, D, and E), were considerably higher in the methanol extract, with vitamin E exceeding the daily recommended intake by international standards in both extracts.
The result in this study indicated that despite the low levels of Vitamins A and C in both extracts when compared to international standards, consumption of tiger nuts will contribute to meeting the daily vitamin requirement as stipulated for healthy adults.
The researchers suggested that its broad-spectrum antibacterial activity on urinary tract infection-causing bacteria might be attributed to the presence of chemical constituents, including phenolic compounds and other phytochemicals.
The 2019 study in the Journal of Agroalimentary Processes and Technologies involved Imaobong E. Daniel and Etukudo Edigeal at the University of Uyo, Akwa Ibom State.
According to them, “these results further authenticate the medicinal importance of tiger nut and its vast and diverse bioactive compounds of immense pharmaceutical importance. However, further purification and isolation of the active compounds in these extracts are required for pharmacological evaluation because tiger nut may be a potential source of a new type of antibiotic.”
Botanically called Cyperus esculentus, tiger nut is commonly known as aya in Hausa, ofio in Yoruba and akiausa in Igbo where three varieties (black, brown and yellow) are cultivated. Among these, only two varieties, yellow and brown are readily available in the market.
Tiger nut can be eaten raw, roasted, dried, baked or be made into a refreshing beverage called tiger nut milk. They are generally soaked in water before they can be eaten, thus making them much softer and giving them a better texture. They are also be used as toppings for a variety of dishes, such as breakfast cereal, smoothies, salads and yogurts.
The edible flour obtained from its tuber could be superior and compares favourably with other tuber crops flours. It is considered as a very important food crop that has great potential in managing, preventing and eliminating malnutrition.
In ayurvedic medicine, tiger nuts are used in the treatment of flatulence, diarrhoea, dysentery, debility and indigestion. Tiger nuts are also said to act as a mild appetite suppressant because they contain resistant starch, a type of starch which resists digestion. Because of its high content of the antioxidant, vitamin E, it helps slow down the ageing of the body cells, favours the elasticity of the skin and reduces skin wrinkles.
Previous studies reported that tiger nut is taken by diabetics mainly for its sucrose and starch and for its high content of arginine which is reported to stimulate the production of insulin. They are equally thought to be beneficial in cholesterol-lowering activities and as such implicated in the reduction of colon cancer.
Two varieties of tiger nut studied are very nutritious and exhibited high antisickling effectiveness and improving the oxidant status of the red blood cells.
Urinary tract infections are usually treated with broad-spectrum antibiotics, which in most cases ensure short and long term cure. The infection is very common, with most women experiencing them at some time in their lives.
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