Water chestnut, commonly known as ‘Paniphal‘ or ‘Singhara‘ in Hindi in India is a vegetable that is native to China and is quite common in Chinese households. Unlike its name, it is not related to chestnut in anyway. In fact it is not a nut but an aquatic vegetable that is grown on marshes, ponds and seasonal and perennial lakes.
Though, it is a seasonal vegetable, canned water chestnut is available throughout the year. It belongs to the family of plants called sedge, a type of marshy grass with the edible part at the bottom. More than 2/3rd of the plant remains submerged in water whereas the upper leaves float on the surface of water. The fruit or water chestnut is found under the leaves when they mature. The seed is the edible portion of this plant. This seed has a triangular shape, is thick and white with a mild sweet taste and flavour. The seed coat is quite hard with 2 or 4 blunt projections and can only be removed either by slicing them into two pieces or by boiling them which makes the seed coat softer (1).
The crunchy texture and fresh mild flavour of water chestnut sets this vegetable apart. It does not lose its crunchiness on being cooked or canned. It can either be eaten raw or boiled besides being used as a filling addition to dishes. In India, street vendors are often found selling water chestnuts. They are highly nutritious as well as low in calories and fat free. Fresh water chestnuts have double the amount of potassium, zinc, B vitamins and vitamin E in comparison to the canned varieties. Indian water chestnut or ‘singhara’ is generally available in deep green, red and a blend of these colours.
Health Benefits of Water Chestnut:
Besides their crunchy texture and sweet mild flavour, water chestnuts possess remarkable nutritional composition, making them an excellent food source. Their medicinal properties have rendered them usable in Ayurvedic and Unani systems of medicines. Their numerous health benefits are as follows:
1. Water chestnut acts as an excellent coolant for the body. It promotes salivation and quenches thirst. Being cool, sweet, heavy and bitter, it is effective in controlling loose motions (2).
2. Water chestnuts are a perfect food to form part of a healthy lifestyle. They are high in nutrients and low in calories and almost fatless. Half a cup of water chestnuts contains just 0.1 gram fat. All this makes them a healthy food option (3).
3. Due to their detoxifying properties, water chestnuts are beneficial for people suffering from jaundice. Jaundice patients can eat it in raw form or in juice form. It acts as an excellent tonic for removing toxins from the body (4).
4. Since water chestnut contains useful minerals like iodine and manganese, it helps in maintaining proper functioning of the thyroid gland.
5. Being rich in polyphenolic and flavonoid antioxidants (5), water chestnuts possess anti-bacterial, antiviral, anticancer and antioxidant properties. They help in strengthening the stomach and the spleen and remove symptoms of weak spleen such as bad taste, insomnia, feeling sick, fatigue and cancer.
6. Water chestnut is effective in treating different urine infections (6).
7. The extracts of the water chestnut plant are effective in curing the disorders of nausea and indigestion. Water chestnut juice is a natural remedy for stomach related problems. The powder gruel of the water chestnut is beneficial for intestines and for removal of internal heat (7).
8. The powder of water chestnuts is effective in relieving cough. Grind water chestnuts to make powder and consume it with water or any juice twice a day. This is a natural remedy to provide instant relief from cough (8).
9. The usage of water chestnut either in raw form or in juice form helps to alleviate the problem of bad appetite in children as well as in adults.
10. Water chestnuts are just perfect to beat the scorching heat of the summers, thanks to their excellent cooling properties. They have numerous curative and supplementary properties as well.
[ Read: Watermelon Seeds Benefits ]
11. The juice of water chestnut is used to control diarrhea and dysentery and the fruits are used in treating sore throat (9), anemia, fractures, bronchitis and in leprosy.
12. It helps in treating hypertension during pregnancy and improves fetal growth. Porridge made from the flour of water chestnut is given to a pregnant woman after delivery to check hemorrhage. The dried seeds stop bleeding and treat miscarriage issues in women. It also promotes mammary gland secretion of milk.
13. The juice extracted from water chestnuts eliminates the humor of bile and phlegm and cures plethora. It also increases virility.
14. Water chestnuts eliminate inflammations and blood impurities. They are energy boosters which drive away tiredness and check the flow of blood from wounds (10).
15. Water chestnuts are excellent sources of potassium with one cup providing 362.1 mg potassium. This mineral is vital for proper muscle and neural functioning. It also regulates water retention and blood pressure by balancing sodium.
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Skin Benefits of Water Chesnut:
In addition to their numerous health benefits given above, water chestnuts can be beneficial for the skin in the following ways.
16. As stated earlier, water chestnuts purify the blood by removing toxins from the body. This results in the appearance of glowing and youthful skin.
17. Water chestnuts are effective in treating conditions like measles. Water chestnuts boiled in water makes an excellent solution for measles patients. Having this drink on a regular basis for at least 6-9 days of the cycle provides great results (11).
18. A paste made from powdered skins of water chestnuts can be applied on the swollen areas of the skin for relief.
19. Water chestnut seed powder mixed with lemon juice helps to cure eczema if applied regularly.
[ Read: Water Spinach ]
Hair Benefits of Water Chestnut:
Healthy, lustrous and damage free hair is something that all of us wish to achieve. Just like the rest of your body, your hair needs adequate supply of nutrients to maintain its health.
20. Water chestnuts are beneficial for your hair in general as they contain certain essential nutrients such as potassium, zinc, B vitamins and vitamin E. Moreover, they remove toxins from the body that can damage your hair as well. Thus, their nutritional value has a lot to contribute to healthy hair.
Nutritional Value of Water Chestnut
Amount of Water Chestnut: 100g
|Dietary Fiber||14.9 g|