Health  

‘Tiger nuts boost fertility in men, women’ by researchers

Tiger-nutsCan eating meals replete with tiger nuts provide novel treatment for infertility in men and women by boosting sperm and egg quality? CHUKWUMA MUANYA writes. 

Nigerian researchers have demonstrated how extracts of tiger nuts (Cyperus esculentus) significantly increased gonadotropins, testosterone, and sperm parameters in a dose-dependent fashion.

The study published in the Journal of Medical and Applied Biosciences is titled “Effect of Methanolic Extract of Cyperus esculentus L. (Tigernut) on Luteinizing Hormone, Follicle Stimulating Hormone, Testosterone, Sperm Count and Motility in Male Albino Wistar Rats.”

The authors include: Agbai E.O from the Department of Human Physiology, Madonna University Elele, Rivers State Nigeria; and Nwanegwo C.O from the Department of Human Physiology, College of Medicine, Imo State University, Owerri.

Cyperus esculentus is commonly known as earth almond, tiger nut, chufa, yellow nutsedge and Zulu nuts. It is known in Nigeria as aya in Hausa, ofio in Yoruba and akiausa in Ibo where three varieties (black, brown and yellow) are cultivated. Among these, only two varieties, yellow and brown are readily available in the market.

The yellow variety is preferred to all other varieties because of its inherent properties like its bigger size, attractive colour and fresher body.

Tiger nut can be eaten raw, roasted, dried, baked or be made into a refreshing beverage called tiger nut milk. Cyperus esculentus was reported to help in preventing heart, thrombosis and activates blood circulation, responsible for preventing and treating urinary tract and bacterial infection, assist in reducing the risk of colon cancer, anti-diabetic, weight-losing effect, and possesses anti-sickling property Research has indicated that Cyperus esculentus may play an important role in enhancement of fertility, thus we study the effect of methanolic extract of Cyperus esculentus on some reproductive hormones, sperm count and sperm motility in male albino wistar rats.

According to Wikipedia, gonadotropins are glycoprotein polypeptide hormones secreted by gonadotrope cells of the anterior pituitary of vertebrates.

This family includes the mammalian hormones follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), luteinizing hormone (LH), and placental/chorionic gonadotropins human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) and equine chorionic gonadotropin (eCG), as well as at least two forms of fish gonadotropins.

These hormones are central to the complex endocrine system that regulates normal growth, sexual development, and reproductive function.

LH and FSH are secreted by the anterior pituitary gland, while hCG and eCG are secreted by the placenta in pregnant humans and mares, respectively.

The gonadotropins act on the gonads, controlling gamete and sex hormone production. The researchers probed the effect of methanolic extract of Cyperus esculentus on FSH, LH, testosterone and some sperm parameters in twenty four adult albino male wistar rats.

After six weeks administration of extract of Cyperus esculentus, results showed statistically significant difference in LH levels compared with experimental Group B, Group C and Group D.

FSH levels showed statistically significant difference between Group A compared Group D. There was no statistically significant difference between Group A compared with Group B and Group C.

Testosterone levels showed statistically significant differences at between Group A compared to Group B, Group C and Group D. The sperm count levels showed statistically significant differences between Group A compared to Group B, Group C and Group D. There was statistically significant difference between Group A compared to Group B.

However, there was no statistically significant difference between Group A compared with Group C. The same researchers have also demonstrated how tiger nuts increase fertility parameters in females.

Their finding revealed that methanolic extract of Cyperus esculentus significantly increased serum estrogen level as the dose concentration of extract increased, but did not statistically increase follicle stimulating hormone, luteinizing hormone and prolactin levels.

The study published in the Journal of Agriculture and Veterinary Sciences is titled “Cyperus esculentus (Tigernut) Increases Estrogen Level in Female Albino Wistar Rats.”

The effect of methanolic extract of Cyperus esculentus on follicle stimulating hormone, luteinizing hormone, prolactin and estrogen in twenty four albino wistar rats and in four control rats.

After six weeks administration of extract of Cyperus esculentus, results showed no statistically significant difference in LH levels at between Group A compared with experimental Group B, Group C and Group D. FSH levels showed statistically significant difference between Group A compared to Group B and Group C.

There was no statistically significant difference between Group A compared with Group D. Prolactin levels showed no statistically significant differences between Group A compared with Group B, Group C and Group D. The estrogen levels showed statistically significant differences between Group A compared to Group B.

There was also statistically significant difference in estrogen levels between Group A compared to Group C. There was a statistically significant difference between Group A compared to Group D. Nutritional value According to Wikipedia, despite its name, tiger nut is a tuber. However, its chemical composition shares characteristics with tubers and with nuts.

It has been reported to be a “health” food, since its consumption can help prevent heart disease and thrombosis and is said to activate blood circulation and reduce the risk of colon cancer.

This tuber is rich in energy content (starch, fat, sugar, and protein), minerals (mainly phosphorus and potassium), and vitamins E and C thus making this tuber also suitable for diabetics. Tiger nut tubers contain almost twice the quantity of starch as potato or sweet potato tubers.

The oil of the tuber was found to contain 18 per cent saturated (palmitic acid and stearic acid) and 82 per cent unsaturated (oleic acid and linoleic acid) fatty acids.

The moderately high content of phytosterols further enriches the quality and value of tiger nut oil as a food source. According to Wikipedia, dried tiger nut has a smooth tender, sweet and nutty taste.

It can be consumed raw, roasted, dried, baked or as tiger nut milk or oil. The tubers are edible, with a slightly sweet, nutty flavour, compared to the more bitter-tasting tuber of the related Cyperus rotundus (purple nutsedge).

They are quite hard and are generally soaked in water before they can be eaten, thus making them much softer and giving them a better texture. They are a popular snack in West Africa, where they are known as ncɔkɔn in the languages Bamanankan or Dyula.

They have various uses; in particular, they are used in Spain to make horchata. “Horchata” is a nonalcoholic beverage of milky appearance derived from the tubers of the tiger nut plant mixed with sugar and water.

It has a great economic impact in the Valencian region of Spain. Flour of roasted tiger nut is sometimes added to biscuits and other bakery products as well as in making oil, soap, and starch extracts.

It is also used for the production of nougat, jam, beer, and as a flavoring agent in ice cream and in the preparation of kunnu (a local beverage in Nigeria).

Kunnu is a nonalcoholic beverage prepared mainly from cereals (such as millet or sorghum) by heating and mixing with spices (dandelion, alligator pepper, ginger, licorice) and sugar.

To make up for the poor nutritional value of kunnu prepared from cereals, tiger nut was found to be a good substitute for cereal grains. Tiger nut oil can be used naturally with salads or for deep-frying. It is considered to be high quality oil.

Tiger nut “milk” has been tried as an alternative source of milk in fermented products, such as yogurt production, and other fermented products common in some African countries and can thus be useful replacing milk in the diet of people intolerant to lactose to a certain extent.

Use as oil According to Wikipedia, there is a global search for alternative sources of fuel which could be cheaper, safer and more importantly, environmentally friendly in comparison with widely used burning fuels. Since the tubers of C. esculentus contain 20-36 per cent oil, it has been suggested as potential oil crop for the production of biodiesel.

One study found that chufa produced 1.5 metric tonnes of oil per hectare (174 gallons/acre) based on a tuber yield of 5.67 t/ha and oil content of 26.4 per cent.

A similar six-year study found tuber yields ranging from 4.02 to 6.75 t/ha, with average oil content of 26.5 per cent and an average oil yield of 1.47 t/ha.

Use in medicine and cosmetic industry According to Wikipedia, as a source of oils, the tubers were used in pharmacy under the Latin name bulbuli thrasi beginning no later than the end of 18th century. In ayurvedic medicine tiger nuts are used in the treatment of flatulence, diarrhoea, dysentery, debility and indigestion.

Tiger nut oil can be used in the cosmetic industry. As it is anti-dioxide (because of its high content in vitamin E) it helps slow down the ageing of the body cells.

It favours the elasticity of the skin and reduces skin wrinkles. Indeed, tiger nuts are making a comeback – as a so-called super-food. Served raw or ground into flour for baking, they are not actually nuts, but tubers of a grass-like plant called the yellow nutsedge.

High in iron, potassium, magnesium and Vitamins C and E, they taste sweet, with a hint of coconut, and have a chewy texture. Jemma Brett, spokesman for Navi Organics, said: “We’ve been selling tiger nuts for about a year now, and are definitely noticing more interest recently, and our sales are increasing. “We consider them a super-food, especially with their nutrient profile almost mirroring that of human breast milk, and the fact that they are gluten-free and nut-free makes them a wonderful alternative and healthy choice.”

Tiger nuts are also said to act as a mild appetite suppressant because they contain resistant starch, a type of starch, which resists digestion. This helps keep us feeling fuller for longer, and also reduces the amount of calories we absorb from the food.

Tiger nuts are also said to act as a mild appetite suppressant because they contain resistant starch, a type of starch, which resists digestion “Resistant starch is also a prebiotic, which helps our bodies to naturally develop probiotic (friendly) bacteria ensuring a strong immune system,” said Ludovica Vigliardi Paravia, spokesman for Organic Gemini, which will launch tiger nuts in the UK this September after their success in the United States (U.S.) “The flour can be used in most baking and smoothie recipes, adding a sweet and nutty flavour, and is gluten-free, nut-free and dairy-free.

You can use it for cookies, brownies, cakes – even pizza dough.” Tiger nuts can rightly be regarded as the world’s first super-food, as they were what our ancient ancestors’ used to eat, in Africa.

In fact, they made up 80 per cent of the diet of ‘Nutcracker Man’, who lived two million years ago, according to research published by Oxford University.

Retailer Goodness Direct started selling tiger nuts two years ago, and said orders of both the raw product and the flour have doubled in the last 12 months.

In Spain, where tiger nuts are known as ‘chufa’ and are grown in the Valencia region, they are used to make the popular drink, Horchata. Fishermen also use them as bait, particularly for carp.



No Comments yet

Related