Health Benefits of Water Chestnut, Nutrition, Recipes, And More!

The health benefits of water chestnut are widely known and recognized for the human body. It is an aquatic tuber vegetable that is majorly used in Chinese, European, and Indian delicacies. These grass-like plants grow in areas such as China, India, Japan, Africa, Australia, the Philippines, and the Pacific and Indian Ocean islands (1). The name of this vegetable may suggest that it belongs to the family of regular chestnuts which grow on trees. However, water chestnuts grow underwater or are often found in marshy and muddy regions. 

Although this veggie may appear like an actual chestnut in its color and shape, it is not a nut. So, what are water chestnuts? From its nutrients, health benefits, uses, and storage tips, to its potential side effects 一 in this article, we have put together a guide to everything you ought to know about this aquatic vegetable. 

What Are Water Chestnuts?

Benefits of water chestnut

Water chestnuts are an aquatic or underwater vegetable that usually grows in areas such as ponds, marshes, paddy fields, and shallow lakes. The tiny ‘corms’ on this plant are round and often cut from the plant for consumption purposes. They are usually dark brown when they are chopped away or harvested. These corms usually have crisp flesh which is white and may be eaten raw or cooked (2). Water chestnuts are commonly used in Asian meals like stir-fry, salads, chop suey, curries, etc. 

Also known as the Chinese water chestnut, it has a nutty, sweet, and tart flavor that feels like a blend of apple and coconut. This veggie is packed with a variety of vitamins, minerals, and chemical compounds that may be good for your health and well-being.

Nutrition Value of Water Chestnut 

Benefits of water chestnut

Water chestnuts may supply your body with essential nutrients for various bodily functions. It is high in dietary fiber, has low calories, and contains no fat (2). Here are all the major nutrients which are found in a 100-gram serving of this vegetable (3).

  • Calories: 42
  • Protein: 0.7 grams
  • Fat: 0 grams
  • Carbohydrates: 9.15 grams
  • Total Dietary Fiber: 2.8 grams
  • Sugar: 0.7 grams
  • Potassium: 49 milligrams
  • Iron: 0.25 milligrams

In addition to their crunchy texture and unique flavor, water chestnuts also contain important minerals such as copper, manganese, zinc, sodium, and phosphorus. They also have a lot of water content which makes them an ideal food to eat during the summer months to hydrate the body (4). It also contains a high concentration of chemical compounds called phenolics which may act as strong antioxidant agents in the human body (5). This vegetable additionally contains other nutritional components such as flavonoids, tannins, saponins, and vitamins A, B6, C, and E (6).

5 Most Significant Health Benefits of Water Chestnuts

Benefits of water chestnut

Now that you are aware of this underwater vegetable, ahead find all you need to know about the potential benefits of water chestnut. 

1. May Help in Treating Inflammation 

The nutrients found in this particular vegetable may affect the genes that produce anti-inflammatory compounds in your body. According to research, the production of inflammatory chemical compounds such as interleukins and nitric oxide is stopped by the

consumption of water chestnut extract. Hence, it may be used as a therapeutic agent to treat inflammatory disorders in your skin (6), (7).

Additionally, the presence of flavonoids in water chestnuts can serve as a natural antioxidant and assist in eliminating free radicals within your body. This property may cause pain-relieving or analgesic effects and fight inflammation, pain, and skin irritation (6), (7).

2. May Have Anti-Cancer Effects on the Body

Water chestnut is known for its numerous health benefits, one of the most significant being its high content of ferulic acid, an antioxidant that can help prevent or inhibit the growth of cancer cells in the body (1). Further, the peel and flesh of this vegetable have flavonoids which have a high level of free scavenging radicals. Research suggests that flavonoids can provide various benefits to your body, including anti-tumor, antioxidant, and nitrite-scavenging effects (8). Hence, one of the benefits of water chestnut is that it fights the growth of various types of cancers. 

3. May Improve Your Blood Pressure

Since potassium scores high amongst water chestnut nutritional value, it may have multiple benefits for your cardiovascular health (3). Studies suggest that an increased potassium intake may help in reducing blood pressure in individuals with hypertension (9). Another research states that consuming more potassium than the recommended dietary intake may lower the risks of heart strokes. It may also reduce the risks of cardiovascular diseases in your body (10). Hence, eating water chestnuts may improve your blood pressure and promote good heart health.

4. May Promote a Strong Digestive System  

Water chestnuts are a great way to add dietary fiber to your diet, which can improve your digestive health (2), (3). Studies show that people who eat more fiber are less likely to be obese, have diabetes, or develop certain gastrointestinal conditions. Fiber may also be useful in treating conditions such as gastroesophageal reflux disease, constipation, duodenal ulcer, diverticulitis, and hemorrhoids (11). An increased fiber intake may have a favorable, positive impact on your gut microbiota (12). Hence, eating this veggie may lead to good digestive health.

5. May Help in Weight Loss

Thanks to their high water content, water chestnuts are considered a high-volume food that’s packed with moisture (3), (4). Studies suggest that eating foods that are high in water content may lead to reduced calorie intake in contrast to drinking water along with food (13). This may cause a calorie deficit while feeling ‘full’, and lead to weight loss.

How to Use Water Chestnuts in Recipes?

Water chestnut is a versatile vegetable that may be consumed in multiple forms such as raw, boiled, steamed, pickled, or grilled. The best part about this underwater veggie is that it remains crisp in texture even after being cooked for long durations. Water chestnut usage is common in Asian dishes like dim sum, soups, salads, chop suey, and more. Ahead, we have put together three unique recipes that you may try.

1. Crispy Water Chestnuts

Benefits of water chestnut

Ingredients: 

Here’s what you need to make this dish:

  • 1 cup of canned water chestnuts
  • 1 tablespoon of oil
  • 1 tablespoon of flour
  • 1 tablespoon of cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon of chopped garlic
  • 1/2 tablespoon of chopped ginger
  • 2 tablespoons of sweet chili sauce
  • 1 teaspoon of red chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon of soy sauce
  • 2 stalks of chopped spring onions
  • 1 tablespoon of tomato ketchup
  • 1 teaspoon of salt

Method: 

  • Begin by heating oil in a frying pan. 
  • Mix the water chestnuts with refined flour, cornstarch, and salt in a large bowl.
  • Fry these coated water chestnuts in the oil and place them on oil-absorbent tissue paper.
  • In a separate pan, add the oil, ginger, garlic, and sweet chili sauce. Saute for about 30 minutes. After this, add the soy sauce and chili powder. Mix and let it cook for a minute.
  • Once it begins to bubble, add the fried water chestnuts, spring onions, and tomato ketchup.
  • Toss everything properly, garnish with spring onions, and serve hot. 

2. Water Chestnut Stir-Fry

Benefits of water chestnut

Ingredients:

Here’s what you need to make this dish:

  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 cup of water chestnuts
  • 1 pound of snow peas
  • 2 diced bell peppers
  • 5 to 6 chopped broccoli florets
  • 6 to 8 baby corn pieces
  • 1 tablespoon of chopped mint leaves
  • 2 tablespoons of sesame seeds
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Method:

  • Place a frying pan on high flame and add the olive oil to it.

  • Once the oil is hot, add the baby corn, bell peppers, snow peas, and broccoli to the pan. Let it cook for three minutes. Then, add in the water chestnut, mint leaves, and sesame seeds. Stir well and let it cook until the vegetables are soft.
  • In the end, lower the flame, and add salt and pepper for the final seasonings.
  • Serve hot with other main dishes like noodles, rice, and bread, or eat it as is. 

Place a frying pan on high flame and add the olive oil to it.

3. Spicy Water Chestnut And Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Benefits of water chestnut

Ingredients:

Here’s what you need to make this dish:

  • 1 pound chopped chicken tenderloins
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 finely chopped onion
  • 2 finely chopped bell peppers
  • 1 cup of finely chopped water chestnuts
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup of finely chopped mushrooms
  • 2 minced garlic cloves
  • 1 teaspoon of soy sauce
  • 8 lettuce leaves
  • 1/2 cup of stir-fry sauce
  • 2 tablespoons salted peanuts
  • 2 teaspoons minced coriander leaves 

Method:

  • First, sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper.
  • In a large pan, add the canola oil and allow it to heat up. Then, add the chicken and stir-fry it until the pink color goes away. Remove from the pan and keep aside.
  • After this, in the same pan, add onion and bell peppers. Saute for a few minutes. 
  • Then, add the mushrooms, garlic, and water chestnuts. Stir-fry everything until the veggies have become tender. 
  • At this stage, mix in the soy sauce and the stir-fry sauce. 
  • After this, add the chicken back to the pan and combine everything well on heat.
  • Once you have the chicken filling ready, place two tablespoons of this mixture on each lettuce leaf. Sprinkle each leaf with peanuts and coriander leaves. Fold the lettuce to create a wrap. Serve and consume immediately as it may become soggy over time. 

4. How to Store Water Chestnuts?

Benefits of water chestnut

There are multiple health benefits of water chestnut and hence it may be an integral addition to your daily meals. So, how do you store this vegetable safely for regular consumption? Here are some storage tips that you may keep in mind.

  • After you have purchased water chestnuts, store them in an unpeeled form in paper bags. You may keep them in your refrigerator for about a week. If you store these vegetables after peeling them, it may cause them to lose their freshness, taste, and texture. Hence, it is ideal to peel them just before using them in your meals. 
  • Another way to store water chestnuts is by freezing them. There are two ways to opt for this storing method. Firstly, you may easily store the unpeeled vegetable in an air-tight container. This way, it would last in the freezer for about five to six months at a temperature of 0ºF. Or, you may peel the water chestnuts, boil them in water, and then store them in freezer bags. If you choose this method, you may be able to store it for about a year at the right temperature. Also, remember to write the date of packing on your freezer bags to prevent them from rotting in the freezer for a long time.

In case you are facing difficulty with storing the vegetable, you may simply use the canned version. Canned water chestnuts are similar to fresh ones in taste, shape, and color. They are usually washed, peeled, cut, and then stored in brine water before being canned. Once opened, you may store the remaining portion in filtered water. Ensure that you are changing this water every day to keep its freshness intact throughout the day. 

Precautions And Side Effects of Water Chestnuts 

While water chestnuts’ health benefits may be impressive, it also has certain side effects which you should be aware of. According to anecdotal evidence, excessive consumption of this underwater vegetable may cause adverse effects such as stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, constipation, and abdominal gas due to its high fiber and water content. 

However, there are some precautions you may take before adding it to your diet. Pregnant women and elderly people may consider consulting their doctors before eating water chestnuts as it may have adverse effects on their health. Also, children may need to consume the vegetable under the supervision of their parents as it might cause stomach problems for them if taken in excess. 

 To sum up, water chestnut, also known as Chinese water chestnut, is a veggie that grows in water and is often used in Indian, European, and Asian dishes.  It is packed with antioxidants which may be good for your health. From helping you to lose weight, improving your blood pressure, and treating skin inflammation, to providing relief from pain 一 the benefits of water chestnut are multiple. However, while its advantages may be impressive, it also has certain side effects, mostly stomach ailments such as pain, constipation, vomiting, and more upon excessive consumption. The best part about this vegetable? It is super versatile to cook and you may include it in various distinct recipes!

ALSO READ: 9 Best Sulwhasoo Products That Every Skincare Enthusiast Needs

Source link