Chinese Water Chestnut

The Chinese water chestnuts are grass-like plants with unnoticeable flower belonging to the Cyperaceae family. These plants are also known as sedge. The Chinese water chestnuts are native to Asia, especially the subcontinent and the eastern part which includes China, India, Japan, and the Philippines to mention a few. It also spreads across the continents of Australia and the tropical regions of Africa.

What is amazing to know is that the water chestnut is not a nut at all and instead an aquatic vegetable primarily growing underwater in the shallow marshy land. It is used mostly as corms for the culinary applications. This bottom part of the plant strongly resembles chestnuts in color and shape. It tastes mildly like a sweet coconut apple.

Important Tip When Buying Chinese Water Chestnut

The fresh ones are sweeter and firmer and worth searching for, but the ones in the can become dull and somewhat tasteless. Mostly found in food groceries and supermarkets, the vegetables should be washed and appropriately peeled to be consumed raw.

Scientific name


Trapa natans

Nutrient Contents

Calcium 11.000 mg
Energy 406.000 kJ
Water 73.460 g
Total Folate 16.000 mcg
Folate (food) 16.000 mcg
Magnesium 22.000 mg
Total lipid (fat) 0.100 g
Carbohydrate 23.940 g
Dietary Fiber 3.000 g
Total sugar 4.800 g
Vitamin B-6 0.328 mg
Vitamin C 4.000 mg
Sodium 14.000 mg
Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) 1.200 mg
Vitamin K (phylloquinone) 0.300 mcg
Total Choline 36.200 mg
Saturated fatty acids 16:0 0.016 g
Saturated fatty acids 18:0 0.004 g
Saturated fatty acids 14:0 0.001 g
Saturated fatty acids 12:0 0.003 g
Saturated fatty acids 10:0 0.001 g
Iron 0.060 mg
Selenium 0.700 mcg
Polyunsaturated fatty acids 18:3 undifferentiated 0.010 g
Fatty acids, total polyunsaturated 0.043 g
Polyunsaturated fatty acids 18:2 undifferentiated 0.032 g
Ash 0.100 g
Zinc 0.500 mg
Copper 0.326 mg
Riboflavin 0.200 mg
Pantothenic acid 0.479 mg
Niacin 1.000 mg
Fatty acids, total saturated 0.026 g
Folate, DFE 16.000 mcg
Potassium 584.000 mg
Phosphorus 63.000 mg
Manganese 0.326 mg
Thiamin 0.140 mg
Fatty acids, total monounsaturated 0.002 g
Energy 97.000 kcal
Monounsaturated fatty acids 18:1 undifferentiated 0.001 g
Monounsaturated fatty acids 16:1 undifferentiated 0.001 g

Health Benefits

Low Calories

The Chinese water chestnuts are very high in nutrition and simultaneously low in calories. About 100gms of it gives 97 calories, and most of it comes from carbs which are enough to provide sufficient energy for daily work.

It contains lots of fiber which is useful for regulating bowel metabolism providing 12% of the daily recommendation for men and 8% for women. Having plenty of fiber in the diet helps in mitigating blood cholesterol level and sugar level in the body. Water chestnuts are 74% water thus giving it the name.

Rich Antioxidant

The vegetable contains a high amount of disease fighting antioxidants which protects our body from the free radicals created because when they accumulate it creates oxidative stress

The plant is rich in antioxidants like ferulic acid which is best known for its skin care benefits, gallocatechin gallate, epicatechin gallate, and catechin gallate. These prevent cell damage and reduces the formation of free radicals mostly found in the skin and the flesh of the water chestnut

Reduce risks of Blood Pressure & Heart Disease

Water chestnuts are a great source of potassium which is very useful for reducing risks of high blood pressure and conditions like stroke and chronic illness like a heart attack

Potassium is an electrolyte which counters the effect of sodium in the body and thus maintains the systolic and the diastolic blood pressure. It is also essential for maintaining a balance between acids and bases in the body.

Weight Loss

Water chestnuts are high volume foods and contain either lots of water or air which are both calorie deficit.

These foods give you a fuller effect most of the time thus naturally reducing the intake of calories by the body and contribute towards reduction of your weight.

Sound Sleep, Mood, & De-stressing

These vegetables have a good presence of vitamin B6 which produces hormones like Serotonin and norepinephrine responsible for alleviating mood and reducing stress respectively. Vitamin B6 helps the body make melatonin  which regulates your sleep

Interesting facts

  • The antioxidant ferulic acid, in water chestnut, helps in keeping the flesh crispy and crunchy even after cooking
  • Introduced to North America in 1874 and grown in the Harvard Botanical Garden from where it spread to the nearby water bodies
  • Water chestnuts grow densely in the water bodies thus affecting fisheries and obstructing navigation in water bodies
  • Found in the root end of the grass plant, and are not vegetables but tubers like potato
  • They produce very sharp seedpods and are painful when someone steps on them. The seedpods create an unpleasant and irritating experience for someone out for a swim to the beaches
  • First cultivated in Africa but truly adopted in China and now used globally

Storage

  • Water chestnuts in the can should be put in the fridge to keep its shell intact
  • Good to use within a few days of purchase
  • After opening the can, the chestnuts should be kept in a cool container with filtered water. Replacing the water within 2-3 days is the best option for keeping it fresh.

How to eat?

Rinsing under cold water is the best option for the water chestnuts taken out from the can. To remove the canny taste from them dip in the fresh water with 1 tbsp of baking soda before removing the skin

The easy way to peel the skin off a water chestnut is by slicing the bottom and top with a vegetable peeler

Culinary Uses & Recipes

  • The water chestnuts are a staple in Chinese cuisine. Mostly consumed raw and fresh by peeling off the skin
  • During cooking the best crunchy effect is achieved by adding the water chestnut at the last
  • Because of their neutral taste, they are a favorite add-on in soups and other appetizers

Popular Water chestnut Recipes

  • Spicy Water Chestnut dip
  • Bacon Water Chestnuts
  • Crunchy Egg salad
  • Snow peas with Water Chestnuts

During Pregnancy

Water Chestnuts are perfectly fine to be consumed during pregnancy because of efficient nutrient present in them like potassium which controls the blood pressure and is very useful for pregnant women to counter the effect of sodium. It is also helpful for effective fetal development

The only thing worrying about while consuming these during pregnancies is the source of the vegetables. Advised to wash thoroughly before eating them.

 References

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