Makhana, a popular name in Indian households, is intriguing, to say the least. Intriguing? Why? There are several reasons. For starters, makhana has many aliases. This includes fox nuts, lotus seeds, phool makhana, and gorgon nuts. It is a part of the lotus plant and is extracted from its flower. What makes it truly fascinating is the way it is made available for consumption. The extracted seeds are cleaned, roasted, and then cracked open for the edible part, the actual makhana. If that was not enough, makhana benefits have evolved into folklore, passed on from one generation to another.
Makhana – The Black Diamond
The beauty of the lotus plant is well-known. However, not many know that it provides highly nutritious stems, seeds (makhana), and even its leaves are a staple food for many communities. A native of Madhubani, Bihar, it is found and consumed in many Far East countries such as Japan and Korea.
Introduction to Makhana (Lotus Seeds)
Looking for a snack that is nutritionally well-balanced and tastes yummy, then try makhana. It is easy to make, doesn’t take long, is easy on the stomach, tasty, and fulfilling too. No wonder it is fast replacing a famous and equally excellent snack, popcorn. However, the benefits of makhana far outnumber popcorn in terms of nutrients and vitamins. Unlike popcorn, which can be allergic to certain people, makhana has no limitations. It is also versatile, which means you can create assorted dishes.
Nutritional Composition of Makhana
Makhana is loaded with goodness. Suffice it to say it has low amounts of fat, cholesterol, and calories. Is that all? Of course not! Makhana is a fantastic source of dietary fibre, protein, and carbohydrates. This elixir of goodness is also rich in essential nutrients and vitamins such as potassium, calcium, iron, magnesium, etc. The exact values may vary depending on the way it is cooked (roasted, fried, or consumed as a part of a veg or sweet dish).
Benefit 1 – Rich Source of Beneficial Nutrients
Nutrients are essential for human bodies. They are the building blocks of good health. Most foods have nutrients in varying quantities and types. Makhana is no exception. Nonetheless, its nutrients are highly optimised. It offers fats, proteins, carbohydrates, minerals, vitamins, and those in the right proportions. Mentioned below are some of the typical values per 100 grams –
- Trans fat – 1.25 grams
- Protein – 10 grams
- Carbohydrates – 77 grams
- Dietary fibre – 13.5 grams
- Sugar – 0 grams
Lotus seed nutrition encompasses minerals too. Magnesium in Makhana improves metabolism, while low fat and high fibre improve digestion. Some of the other important minerals and vitamins found in makhana include – Calcium ( 60mg ), Iron ( 2.6mg ), and Zinc (1.2mg ).
Benefit 2 – Makhana’s Low-Calorie and Weight Management Benefits
Is makhana really a low-calorie food? Yes, it and therefore, it is an excellent food/snack for folks looking to cut down their weight. Moreover, because it is rich in proteins and a powerhouse of energy ( 350 per 100 grams ), it doesn’t make you feel fatigued. Its high fibre ( 14.5 grams ) content means you remain satiated ( reduced hunger pangs ) for longer periods. No wonder it is a superfood, not just a fasting/weight management option. It tastes excellent when prepared with herbs/masalas; make sure folks never get tired of it.
Benefit 3 – Makhana’s High Fibre Content and Digestive Health
The benefits of lotus seeds may seem deceiving. Don’t be fooled by the lightness of makhana. It may feel weightless, crunchy when roasted, and ordinary looking, but in conjunction with even small amounts of liquid, it gains amazing volume. Moreover, being high in dietary fibre, it improves bowel movement. All this leads to a gut environment that is healthy and free from digestive problems such as constipation.
Benefit 4 – Antioxidant Properties and Anti-Aging Benefits of Makhana
Phenolic acids and flavonoids in foods, especially superfoods, play an important role in fighting free radicals and in reducing oxidative stress. Some of these acids and anti-oxidative include chlorogenic and gallic acids and epicatechin. The abundance of these elements in makhana helps reduce lifestyle-related skin issues. Regular eating can actually address issues such as wrinkles and puffiness. However, more studies are needed for these claims.
Benefit 5 – Heart-Healthy Makhana – Supporting Cardiovascular Wellness
The good fat, bad fat debate continues to echo in the corridors of scientific communities, and now even ordinary folks have caught up with it. Yes, good fat is … you guessed it, good for the heart and blood vessels, while bad fat ( saturated ) typically clogs the arteries. Luckily, makhana contains the former and therefore supports cardiovascular wellness. Lotus seed uses don’t end here. Being high in magnesium and low in cholesterol and sodium makes it a heart-friendly food.
Benefit 6 – Managing Blood Sugar Levels with Makhana
Makhana offers potential benefits for diabetes care, but it’s important to constantly monitor blood sugar levels with a sugar testing machine, as its effects can vary; nevertheless, its positive impact on diabetes management is noteworthy. Due to its low GI (glycemic index), Makhana is an excellent food for such individuals. Even pre-diabetics and type-2 diabetics can consume makhana and, over prolonged usage, reverse the disease, especially if they are on a diet plan coupled with exercise.
Benefit 7 – Makhana – A Snack for Enhancing Cognitive Function
Some critical lotus seed uses need further studies, typically based on large participation/audience. However, it is generally assumed that makhana does address brain ageing and cognitive impairment issues. It is believed that the presence of proanthocyanidins helps strengthen cognitive functions. Secondly, makhana is also a thiamine reservoir, another flavonoid conducive to healthy neurotransmission.
Benefit 8 – Incorporating Makhana into Your Diet – Delicious and Nutritious Recipes
Makhana is a versatile food that can be consumed as a snack or a regular vegetarian dish (along with macaroni/curry). On the other hand, the benefits of makhana with milk include kheer and puffs. Not many know that it is an important and integral food of certain festivals ( puja ) and celebrations. In its roasted/fried form, it emulates popcorn, while as a sweet dish, it blends amazingly well with most recipes.
Read More: 8 Must-Known Health Benefits of Aloe Vera
If you are a superfood fan, a fanatic about your health, and a regular reader of health-related blogs, you need to understand that these foods are not a replacement for medicines/drugs. You simply cannot expect a miracle after consuming it for a week or a month. Makhana and other superfoods need to be consumed regularly, along with other natural supplements. The results will only be felt over an extended timeline.
It is crucial to monitor your blood sugar levels using a smartphone-connected glucometer on a regular basis. If you feel doubtful about whether or not you should consume a particular item, you should do a quick sugar check before and after you consume it.
Being a person with diabetes, you can enjoy your favourite treats by making sure that you keep the portion size in check. Overindulging can lead to a spike in your sugar levels. It’s important to discuss with your physician how a food item can affect your blood glucose levels. If you have any doubts about what you can include as a part of your diabetes diet, you should always speak to your doctor or health coach.
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