Makhana is a high-value aquatic cash crop and a traditional Indian snack. It grows in stagnant perennial water bodies. Makhana has been widely used in traditional oriental medicine to cure various diseases, including kidney problems, chronic diarrhoea, excessive leucorrhea, and hypofunction of the spleen. Moreover, it is fast emerging as a superfood globally owing to its rich medicinal values and mineral contents.
Makhanas are rich in nutrients and are a highly potent source of manganese, potassium, magnesium, thiamine, protein, and phosphorus. In addition, both raw and fried Makhana is rich in essential amino acids. Slightly roasted makhanas are an excellent teatime snack and a perfect tiffin option for kids. In India, people make dishes such as kheer, curry, raita, and cutlets using makhanas.
Many people use makhanas in religious rituals and as an offering to God. As one travels across the country, the variation in the consumption and utilisation of makhanas is visible. For example, in north Bihar, people consume the seed in popped form, whereas in Manipur, people cook the leaves and stalk of the Makhana and enjoy it in vegetable curry.
There are different qualities of Makhanas available in the market. The Quality of the Makhana depends on the size and colour of the lava. After polishing, There are 2-3 grades of Makhana, namely Lawa or Rasgulla, Murra or Samundha and Thurri. The health benefits and nutritional value of makhanas make them a popular choice for maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
Origin of Makhana (Fox Nuts)
In India, the state of Bihar is the largest producer of makhanas. Makhanas are derived from lotus seeds. Lotus develops seed pods, and each pod contains approximately 20 seeds that mature within 40 days. The seeds are then dried and roasted on high flames. The outer black shell breaks and the white puffs pop out. These seeds are what we call makhanas.
What Makes Makhana So Popular?
Makhanas/Fox nuts have become extremely popular in recent years due to their high nutritional value. Many celebrities have also spoken about fox nuts and why they include them in their diet. International stars eat them as midday or a post-workout snack for that boost of energy. This has led to a sudden rise in the popularity of makhana.
Makhana is also easily accessible and is a great snacking option. Low in saturated fats, cholesterol, and sodium, it is a great option for munching and maintaining an ideal weight. They are easy to carry around, are a perfect Tiffin option, a great snack to curb cravings, and are very tasty. They are also surprisingly easy to prepare and a yummy dish can be rustled up in a jiffy.
Makhanas were extremely underrated earlier. Makhana has gained new popularity in the last few years, as people have become more health conscious. Now people are going back to the once-forgotten snack for its nutritional value. Supermarkets are also stacked up with different variants of makhanas. Their high fibre content makes them an ideal snack for an instant boost of energy during fasts.
Is It Good for Vegans?
Veganism is a growing trend not only in the west but also in India now. Veganism excludes any animal-based food products like meat, dairy, fish, eggs, etc. A vegan diet is also called a plant-based diet. Though veganism is a great choice, vegans often fall short of their daily nutritional requirements. However, they are often deprived of the essential vitamins, minerals and proteins in their diet. This can lead to deficiency-based health disorders in the long run. This is where makhanas can come and fill the need-gap.
Makhanas are loaded with phosphorus, protein, calcium, magnesium, fibre, zinc, etc. They are a perfect choice for a vegan lifestyle. Unlike common ingredients like barley and wheat, they are also gluten-free. Vegans often have to look around to find a perfect snacking option. Makhana is a great vegan snack for those untimely hunger pangs. These low-calorie nuts are a great option for guilt-free binging.
Nutritional Facts of Makhanas
Makhanas are rich in fibre, which helps keep the excretory tract healthy. It also has potassium that helps in balancing cholesterol levels and keeps the heart healthy. Fox nuts, though small, are a powerhouse of nutrients. Snacking on them can give you some amazing health benefits like good skin, controlled weight, good heart health, hormonal balance, and so on.
100 grams of Makhana contains:
- Calories: 347
- Protein: 9.7gm
- Fats: 0.1gm
- Carbohydrates: 76.9gm
- Fibre: 14.5gm
- Total Lipids (Fats): 0.1gm
- Calcium: 60mg
- Iron: 1.4mg
11 Proven Health Benefits of Makhana
1. Maintains Kidney Health
Makhana ensure kidney health by controlling the blood flow and regulating urination.
They detoxify and cleanse the spleen. It helps in flushing out all the toxins from the body.
2. Healthy Heart
Makhana are rich in vital nutrients like magnesium, protein, calcium, and carbohydrates.
Fox nuts also have low sodium and fat content, which helps to regulate blood pressure.
3. Detoxifies Liver
Our liver detoxifies our body by eliminating all the waste.
Makhanas help the liver to function properly and enhance metabolism.
4. Good For Diabetic Patients
Makhana help regulate blood sugar levels.
They have low calorie and glycaemic indexes, which help diabetic patients to maintain their sugar levels.
5. Make Bones Strong
Makhana are rich in calcium. Calcium improves bone and cartilage health, lubricates your bones and joints, and prevents degenerative bone diseases.
Consume fox nuts daily with milk to improve your bone health and density.
6. Weight Loss
Makhana are low in cholesterol and calories and thus helps you maintain the perfect weight.
Unlike other fried or packaged snack options, fox nuts do not add to weight issues.
7. Hormonal Balance
Makhana help to maintain hormonal balance in your body.
During menstruation, makhanas help to keep those cravings in check and prevent overeating. They also help in dealing with premenstrual symptoms.
8. Keeps Digestive System Healthy
Our body requires fibre for proper digestion. Makhanas are packed with fibre, which ensures the smooth functioning of the digestive system.
If you suffer from digestive problems like constipation or hard stools, include fox nuts in your daily diet.
9. Good for Fertility
Makhanas maintain hormonal balance in our bodies.
They are great for female fertility and ensure the proper functioning of all female reproductive organs. Regular consumption of makhanas boosts female reproductive health.
10. Prevents Inflammation
Makhanas has a compound called ‘kaempferol’ that helps in minimizing inflammation in the body.
Regular use of fox nuts can help cure inflammation.
11. Prevents Ageing
Makhana are loaded with antioxidants and amino acids, which prevent early ageing.
Antioxidants present in makhanas help to keep the skin healthy and glowing.
Healthy Recipes of Makhana
Recipe 1 – Spicy Makhana
This is a quick no time recipe to satisfy those sudden hunger pangs. All the ingredients of this recipe are easily available at our homes at all times. It is a great option for an evening teatime snack.
- Makhanas — 3 cups
- Turmeric powder – 1 tsp
- Red chili powder – 1 tsp
- Salt to taste
- Chaat Masala – 1 tsp
- Black pepper – ½ tsp
- Ghee – 1 tbsp
- Heat some ghee and roast the nuts for about 10-12 minutes over low heat. Keep stirring.
- Add all the spices. Turn off the flame.
- If necessary, add more Chaat Masala. Mix well.
- Store in an airtight container
Recipe 2 – Makhana Tikki
Makhanas taste great with anything. This is a perfect recipe to serve your guests. It adds a perfect twist to the traditional aloo tikki and is much healthier.
- Medium potatoes – 2 cooked and mashed
- Fox nuts – 1 cup
- Green peppers – 2, finely chopped
- Roasted peanuts- 2 tablespoons, roughly crushed
- Coriander leaves — handful, finely chopped
- Fennel seed powder — 1 teaspoon
- Garam Masala Powder — 1 teaspoon
- Chaat Masala — 1 teaspoon
- Cooking oil — 2–3 tablespoons
- Salt to taste
- Dry roast foxnuts in ghee until they are crisp. Grind them coarsely.
- Put the coarsely ground Makhanas, mashed potatoes, and the rest of the ingredients in a bowl.
- Mix well. Adjust the salt and spices to your taste.
- Make round or oval patties. Shallow fry in a non-stick pan or bake in an oven, until both sides are golden brown.
- Serve with ketchup or pudina chutney.
Recipe 3 – Healthy Makhana Chaat
This is a healthy version of chaat without oil. It is a quick and easy recipe that can be prepared in just 15 minutes. Experiment with the ingredients of your choice and create your own version of this recipe.
- Onion – 1 chopped
- Plain yogurt – 1 cup
- Pomegranate seeds — 1/2 cup
- Black pepper powder — 1/2 teaspoon
- Raisins — handful
- Roasted cumin powder – 1 tsp
- Coriander leaves — handful— chopped
- Lemon juice – 1 tsp (optional)
- Salt to taste
- Soak Makhanas in water for 5-10 minutes.
- Squeeze the water and put it in a bowl.
- Add all the ingredients to the bowl.
- Mix well.
- Add raisins at the end.
Makhanas are a complete snack. They are full of essential nutrients and provide great health benefits. These little nuts are an amazing snack option and perfect to satisfy those mid-day cravings. Though Makhanas are great, there are potential side effects like allergies, gastrointestinal problems, etc. if you are someone who has a sensitive stomach, be a little careful while consuming too many makhanas.
Do not substitute makhanas with your main meals in order to lose weight quickly. Losing or gaining weight depends on your overall lifestyle. Eat fox nuts but in moderation. Exercise regularly and be active.
Makhanas are great to experiment with and you might just end up creating a perfect snack recipe for yourself. By eating makhanas, you will not only improve your health but also support local farmers of the country involved in Makhana cultivation
Makhana – Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q. What are the health benefits of makhanas?
A. Makhanas are loaded with health benefits. The sodium and potassium content helps to regulate hypertension and high blood pressure. Makhanas are rich in protein and promote a feeling of fullness for longer time periods. Makhana is also low in calories. This combination makes it ideal for snacking. The fibre content in makhana aids in digestive health. The antioxidants and amino acids present in them prevent early ageing. Makhanas also regulate hormonal imbalance.
Q. How to store makhanas?
A. Airtight containers are ideal to store makhanas. They prevent the air from entering in, keeping the nuts fresh. Place the containers in a cool and dry area. Don’t expose makhana to direct sunlight for long. A good hack to extend the life of these nuts is to toast them. Storing toasted nuts can secure its flavour. It prevents makhanas from becoming stale quickly.
Q. Does it aid in digestion?
A. Makhanas contain a significant amount of fibre in their nutrient profile. Fiber-rich foods promote digestive health and help to regulate bowel movements. This prevents bloating and stomach cramps. Makhana contains antioxidants that also help with digestion. Regular consumption may also prevent ingestion and constipation.
Q. Why are makhanas so popular?
A. Makhanas owes its popularity to its immense health benefits. It is famous in India as a fasting food. Makhana is an important ingredient in many dishes. It is one of the healthiest snacks to munch on. The low-calorie and high protein content is a rare combination to find. Apart from this, ancient medicinal practices speak highly of makhanas.
Q. Does it aid weight loss?
A. Makhanas are low in calories and are a rich source of protein and fibre. This combination makes it an ideal choice of snack. The protein content gives a feeling of fullness for longer durations and prevents overeating. Adding makhanas to your regular diet can accelerate weight loss.