The delectable crunch of masala-coated makhana here has filled many of our evenings, alongside a hot cup of chai. We’re sure you savour these antioxidant-laden, protein-loaded snacks every now and then - as a side dish or as a separate snack. Also known as ‘fox seeds’ and ‘lotus seeds’, makhana is a powerhouse of nutrients that contribute to your overall health if consumed correctly in the right amounts. These aquatic cash crops, found in stagnant perennial water bodies, haven’t always claimed a spot in our household cabinets though. They’ve been employed in traditional medicines to treat kidney-related problems, excessive leukorrhea, hypofunction of the spleen, and chronic diarrhoea. In different parts of the country, they’re consumed in varying ways. In north Bihar, for instance, the seed is consumed in the popped form, and in Manipur, the leaves and stems of the plant are added to vegetable curries. Very versatile, aren’t they? Makhana is also used extensively in Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine. You’ll find them in curries, yoghurt, milkshakes, and milk, and they’re just as appetising roasted or ground as they are fried - although you must steer clear of the fried versions of the seeds if you’re looking to redeem its health benefits. We roped in Dr. Monisha Aravind, M.D.DVL, PDFC, Aesthetic Dermatologist and Medical Director of Armoraa Skin Solutions, LLP to share her insights with us on the benefits of makhana.
- 01. What’s the nutritional value of makhana?
- 02. What are the benefits of eating makhana?
- 03. What is the healthiest way to eat makhana?
- 04. Are there any side-effects of consuming makhana?
01. What’s the nutritional value of makhana?
According to the USDA, one cup of makhana has 106 calories. One cup accounts for about 32 grams of the snack. If your end-goal is to lose weight, you can consume about 30 grams - around a cup - of makhana every day; but you must consult a dietician or nutritionist anyway. These seeds are gluten-free, low in calories, light on the stomach, and loaded with carbohydrates as well as proteins. And they contain negligible amounts of saturated fats and have low levels of fibre. Makhana is rich in micronutrients like calcium, magnesium, zinc, iron, and phosphorus too. Due to the snack’s composition, it can assist you in losing weight - if consumed in the right way and the correct amount. But how does this distinct composition benefit your body? And do these benefits extend to your skin and hair? Let us find out!
02. What are the benefits of eating makhana?
- Makhana is loaded with antioxidants. This lends an anti-ageing property to the seeds that retains the youthfulness of your skin, resurrects your glow, and prevents wrinkles, lines, and other signs of ageing from surfacing. These antioxidants ward off free radicals, prevent oxidative stress (triggered by an imbalance between free radicals and antioxidants in the body), and protect you from chronic conditions like cancer, heart-related diseases, and type 2 diabetes as well. The presence of antioxidants can help prevent frequent and excessive urination too.
- The snack can assist you in losing weight as well. Laden with proteins and fibre, makhana can subdue your cravings when you’re adhering to a diet, regulate your appetite, increase your energy, and keep you feeling full during the day. And the fibre in the seeds can improve bowel movement and prevent constipation. Makhana has a low glycemic index as well. This means that it releases glucose gradually in the body - so you’re kept feeling full for a longer time.
- They’re ideal for individuals with heart-related issues as well as diabetes because they contain negligible amounts of saturated fats, and are loaded with good fats.
- If you grapple with high blood pressure, you can munch on these snacks without worrying about triggering a spike in blood pressure levels. Known to improve the health of your heart, makhana contain high levels of potassium and low levels of sodium. And the magnesium in these seeds improves the quality of blood and oxygen in the heart. This is particularly beneficial for those with hypertension.
- Makhana contain a high amount of calcium as well, and this benefits your bones and teeth.
- They are packed with anti-inflammatory properties too. Rich in flavonoids, makhana reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and inflammation, and promote overall health through their antibacterial properties as well.
- According to Dr. Aravind, since makhana contain magnesium, calcium, manganese, and protein, it promotes hair growth and prevents premature greying.
- It helps detoxify your spleen - the part of your body responsible for the formation and removal of RBCs. In other words, the spleen is like the graveyard for the cells in your body. This ensures that the organ functions properly.
- Touted as an aphrodisiac, makhana can help premature ejaculation, and aid women and men with fertility issues.
- The consumption of makhana can stimulate your nervous system, and keep your cognitive functions in check.
03. What is the healthiest way to eat makhana?
Let’s just establish that frying makhana is counter-productive. It’s only logical to roast or grind the snack, and eat it as is, or add it to soups, salads, yoghurt, curries, rice, and other dishes. Just dry-roast the seeds on low-to-medium heat. Once they’re roasted evenly, you can add about a teaspoon of salt, pepper, and ghee to the pan. Dr. Aravind suggests not adding too much oil, butter, or ghee to makhana. Stir for a few more minutes for the ingredients to mix, and allow the seeds to cool. After this, store them in an air-tight container, and indulge in this protein-laden, gluten-free snack every now and then. To spice it up a little, you can add more masalas to the mix. Roast about a hundred grams of makhana on low-to-medium heat in about four teaspoons of olive oil for about five to seven minutes. Once the seeds are crunchy enough, transfer them to a bowl. In the remaining oil, add ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder, ¼ teaspoon red chilli powder, ¼ teaspoon pepper, ¼ teaspoon chaat masala, and a little amchur as well as salt, and let the spices fry on a low flame. Now, add the freshly-roasted makhana to the spices, and toss them around to coat them with the masalas evenly. Cook for a few more minutes, and that’s it! A healthy snack spiced up with delectable masalas. Just as great as popcorn, right?
04. Are there any side-effects of consuming makhana?
Remember that excessive consumption of anything isn’t recommended - and the principle extends to foods that are classified as ‘healthy’ as well. Moderation is key. If you find yourself over-indulging, exercise restraint. Bear in mind that makhana can trigger bloating, flatulence, allergies, gastrointestinal issues, indigestion, constipation, and a spike in insulin levels. According to Dr. Aravind, “Anything consumed in excess is poisonous to the body. Consuming one cup a day is fine.”
1) How much makhana can I eat in a day?
To reiterate, Dr. Aravind says, “Anything consumed in excess is poisonous to the body. Consuming one cup a day is fine.” Don't overindulge. And don't fry the seeds.
2) Is makhana hot or cold in nature?
Makhana has the ability to increase the moistness of your tissues. It has a cooling tendency, and it is endowed with calming properties that are said to treat insomnia and restlessness.
3) Is makhana good for periods?
Makhana is known to control acidic conditions of the body. These can include gastritis, heavy menstrual cycles, bleeding disorders, and nasal bleeds - so, yes, makhana is good for when you’re on your period.
4) Can we take makhana with milk?
You can add makhana to milk. Add a cup of makhana to a pan. Throw in ½ teaspoon of poppy seeds, ½ teaspoon of cumin seeds, and 100 grams of kaju. Heat all of these ingredients together, and add 2 glasses of milk to the mix. Boil for about fifteen minutes, add a tablespoon of sugar, and mix well before serving. You can add makhana to kheer as well.