Lotus seeds or makhana have become increasingly popular as health food or weight loss snack in recent years. However, most people aren’t aware that every part of the lotus plant is edible, from the beautiful flowers and seeds to the roots. Lotus root has traditionally been used in Indian and Southeast Asian cuisine and it’s worth taking a closer look at its potential health benefits. The root is a source of healthy carbs, contains a high amount of vitamins and minerals, while it’s free of fat and cholesterol. With a mild and mellow flavour, it is also an easy ingredient to add to a variety of dishes. The health benefits of lotus roots have long been celebrated in Ayurvedic medicine, but it might be time to now add this ingredient to your cooking.
With cardiovascular disease being the leading cause of death in India, the lotus root is one of the best ingredients to include in your regular diet because of its rich potassium content. While potassium helps to fight high blood pressure, a major risk factor for heart disease, the root is also a healthy source of folate and vitamin C, which are known to help lower the risk of heart disease.
Lotus root is regarded as an excellent food for healthy carb intake and it contains a significant amount of insoluble fibre. This helps to keep stools soft, while also adding to bulk and this makes bowel movements much easier. Insoluble fibre is known to help prevent constipation and is even recommended as a treatment for chronic constipation.
Lotus root powder is commonly used as an ingredient in Ayurvedic medicines for respiratory allergies and hay fever. This traditional use of lotus is supported by some evidence, with studies showing anti-allergic and anti-inflammatory effects that can help relieve allergic reactions.
Lotus root benefits for women during pregnancy are notable because of the root’s rich content of folate or vitamin B9. Deficiencies in folate are associated with an increased risk of congenital disabilities, such as neural tube defects. In addition, the root provides you with other nutrients that are regarded as essential for a healthy pregnancy, such as calcium, choline and iron.
Lotus roots pose no known risk of side effects, but in rare cases people may have an allergy to the roots. If you have a history of food allergies, it would be a good idea to try introducing lotus roots to your diet in a very small quantity at first.
Additionally, lotus roots can contain certain types of parasites that are found in aquatic plants and these can cause gastrointestinal problems, such as abdominal pain, diarrhoea and fever. However, this risk can be avoided entirely with a thorough washing of the roots, as well as steaming or cooking.
With this knowledge of the health benefits and safety profile of lotus roots, you can begin adding the ingredient to your regular diet, including it in a variety of dishes. You can consume it steamed or stir-fried and even add it to soups. Steaming and cooking are of course the best methods of preparation, while deep frying will reduce some of the potential health benefits.