Fox nuts, also known as makhana or gorgon nut, is a flowering plant that is classified under the family of water lily. Native to Eastern Asia, it grows in water and produces bright purple flowers. The seeds of foxnuts hold significant importance in Indian recipes and have a lot of medicinal properties. Fox nuts seeds are also used in Chinese medication.

Normally, these foxnut plant grow in still waters of wetlands and ponds and require a rich soil for optimal growth. The roots of this plant can extend up to 5 meters deep in the water. Popularly known as makhana, this flowering plant is found in various parts of India such as - Loktak Lake Manipur and Bihar. 

Foxnut plant is majorly cultivated for its edible fruits and starchy white seeds. The fruits of this plant are pulpy and soft, about the size of a small orange, and is used as a cooling tonic in China. Further, the seeds of this fruit can be eaten fresh or dried. Each fruit contains about 8 to 15 seeds, which are about the size of a pea. Foxnut seeds are roasted before consumption.

Some basic facts about Fox nuts:

  • Botanical name: Euryale ferox
  • Family: Nymphaeaceae
  • Common name: Makhana   
  • Parts used: The fruit is used as a cooling tonic food in China and the edible seeds are often used in soups by the Chinese.
  • Native region and geographical distribution: This plant was first cultivated in China about 3000 years ago. It is also found in parts of India, Japan and Korea.
  • Interesting fact: In India, Foxnuts, also known as makhanas, hold significance in the religious ceremonies. It is a popular food eaten during Navratri.
  1. Fox nuts nutrition facts
  2. Fox nuts health benefits
  3. Fox nuts side effects
  4. Takeaway

Some of the nutritional highlights about fox seeds include zero fats and zero cholesterol. This makes it an ideal snack for people with heart conditions. Fox nuts have a good amount of protein content, which helps to build the muscular tissues in the body. The high potassium and low sodium help regulate blood pressure, especially in people who suffer from hypertension.   

100 g of fox nuts contain the following nutrients:

Nutrient Value per 100 g
Energy 350 kcal
Fat 0.1 g
Protein 9.7 g
Carbohydrates 77 g
Fiber 7.6 g
Minerals  
Sodium 210 mg
Potassium 500 mg
Calcium 60 mg

Fox nuts have long been used in Traditional Chinese medicine to treat many diseases such as problems related to the spleen, long-term diarrhoea, diseases related to kidneys and diabetes. Let us explore some of the scientifically proven health benefits of fox nuts:

  • As a protein source: Fox nuts are a rich source of proteins, which are important for ensuring appropriate muscle mass and maintaining body metabolism.
  • For diabetes: The high fibre content of fox nuts helps to prevent shooting up of blood sugar levels immediately after a meal. Its antioxidant content avoids diabetic complications.
  • For the heart: Fox nuts helps in lowering blood pressure due to its high potassium content. Since it is low in fats, it ensures that your cholesterol levels do not rise. Fox nuts reduce your risk of arrhythmia, myocardial ischemia and other heart disorders.
  • For the bones: Fox nuts are rich sources of calcium, and thus reduce the risk of bone fractures and pain while improving the bone strength.
  • For kidney disorders: These nuts have been in use in traditional medicine for the management of a number of kidney disorders like urinary continence, kidney failure or polyuria. They also help in improving kidney function but be careful to consult your doctor before its use since if you suffer from any kidney disorders.
  • For infertility: Fox nuts are considered as aphrodisiacs and some evidence even hints that they help in improving fertility in males and females.

Fox nuts for diabetes

Diabetes is an endocrinal disorder wherein your body is not able to properly utilise or make insulin, a hormone that controls sugar levels in blood. As a result, diabetics usually find it difficult to manage their blood sugar levels. Fox nuts are enriched with fibre and are low in fat content, which makes it a perfect snack for people with diabetes. The fibre in fox nuts helps in slow release of carbohydrates in the intestines, thus avoiding the postprandial spike in blood sugar levels.

Additionally, fox nuts are a good source of antioxidants, which, by scavenging free radicals protects the body from diabetic complications.

Read more: Diabetes diet plan

Fox nuts for heart

Recent studies reveal that fox nuts possess high amounts of glucosides, which give antioxidant properties to these edible seeds. Further, the research shows that regular consumption of fox nuts can reduce the risk of heart diseases, such as myocardial ischemia, to a great extent.

High blood pressure and high cholesterol are two of the major risk factors for cardiovascular diseases.

Seeds of these water lilies have an almost negligible amount of fat. This means that it is easy to snack on without raising your blood cholesterol levels. 

Research shows that fox nuts are abundantly rich in potassium and fairly low in sodium content. This means that they can be good for patients suffering from high blood pressure or hypertension. Being a good source of potassium, it makes sure that your blood pressure levels remain in check. A good ratio of sodium and potassium further aids in avoiding arrhythmia.

So, the next time you feel hungry, eat a handful of these roasted, white starchy seeds, without worrying about your heart.

Read more: Best cardio exercises for heart health

Fox nuts for infertility

Fox nuts are considered an aphrodisiac in ayurveda. Studies indicate that these seeds are natural hydrants and help to lock the moisture in the body. It is believed that consumption of these hydrants keep the body moisturized and increase the stickiness of body secretions. This eventually improves the reproductive system and helps enhance the quality of semen in males. It is also a useful remedy for impotence and for increasing female fertility. 

Therefore, adding fox nuts to your daily diet can help you combat sexual problems and infertility.

Read more: Female fertility panel test

Fox nuts benefits for bones

The puffed seeds of foxnut plant are a good source of calcium. a mineral which is essential for maintaining healthy bones and teeth and lack of which can result in an increased chance of fractures. So, adding fox nuts to your daily diet can help you attain your daily recommended requirement for calcium. It would not only assists in keeping up your bone strength, decreasing your chance of getting bone injuries but also it may help combat issues such as osteoporosis, especially among women.

Further, foxnuts are already being consumed widely by many people throughout the world, as one of the traditional remedies for arthritis.

Though more studies are needed to confirm some of these claims, the traditional use cannot be denied.

Read more: Foods to avoid in osteoporosis

Fox nut for kidneys

Fox nuts have been in use in traditional Chinese medicine for the treatment of kidney disorders. Proper functioning of kidneys is regulated by the pressure of blood flowing through them. Since fox nuts help in regulating the blood pressure, it ensures enough blood flow to the kidneys, keeping them healthy. Regular consumption of these nuts may also relieve you from conditions such as urinary incontinence, polyuria, and kidney failure.

Being a good source of antioxidants, it reduces oxidative stress thereby promoting optimal functioning of body organs.

Though potassium rich nuts are usually not recommended to kidney patients. If you are suffering from kidney disease, it is important to talk to a doctor before taking foxnuts.

Read more: Acute kidney failure

Fox nut protein source

These white nuts are abundantly rich in plant-based proteins — around 9.7 g per 100 g. The content of protein in these nuts is way too high as compared to other processed grains. Proteins are an integral part of the muscular system, as they help build your muscle tissues and play an integral role in body metabolism. Regular intake of these protein-rich nuts ensures that your muscles remain healthy. Though it is recommended not to binge on fox nuts, instead, consume it in moderate amounts.

Read more: Balanced diet

The following are some of the side effects of fox nuts

  • Fox nuts are known to have astringent properties and therefore should not be consumed excessively as it may lead to some side effects. Also, these starchy white seeds can trigger some allergic reactions in some people. Hence it is advisable to seek medical advice if you experience allergic reactions or symptoms immediately after consumption of these seeds.
  • It is not advisable to consume fox seeds when you are suffering from common cold, flu, and diarrhea.
  • It is recommended that pregnant and lactating women consult their doctors before consuming these nuts, as it could have some side-effects on the baby.
  • Excessive intake of these nuts can also cause bloating and flatulence in some people.
  • Further, if you already have some existing medical conditions and you are on medication, then consumption of these nuts may either block the absorption of medicines into your body or could have a negative reaction with these medicines and cause issues.

Fox nuts are easily available in the market. For the past many years, these nuts have been used in the Chinese traditional medicines and also in Ayurveda. Fox nuts are good for treating infertility issues. Being rich in potassium, they help to regulate blood pressure, which eventually exerts less pressure on kidneys and helps improve kidney health. Because these nuts are low in fat and high in protein, it makes them a perfect munching snack in the evening.

Despite having so many health benefits, fox nuts may lead to some side effects such as allergy, bloating and flatulence etc.

References

  1. Masram et al. Makhana (Euryale ferox Salisb)-A Review. 2015 Greentree Group © IJAPC, Int J Ayu Pharm Chem 2015 Vol. 4 Issue 2
  2. Kendall CW, Esfahani A, Truan J, Srichaikul K, Jenkins DJ. Health benefits of nuts in prevention and management of diabetes. Asia Pac J Clin Nutr. 2010;19(1):110-6. PMID: 20199995
  3. Das S, Der P, Raychaudhuri U, Maulik N, Das DK. The effect of Euryale ferox (Makhana), an herb of aquatic origin, on myocardial ischemic reperfusion injury. Mol Cell Biochem. 2006 Sep;289(1-2):55-63. Epub 2006 Apr 21. PMID: 16628469
  4. Roy M, Mahmood N, Rosendorff C. Evidence for aggressive blood pressure-lowering goals in patients with coronary artery disease. Curr Atheroscler Rep. 2010 Mar;12(2):134-9. PMID: 20425249
  5. BMJ 2015;351:h4183 [Internet] Calcium intake and bone mineral density: systematic review and meta-analysis.
  6. Danish Ahmed, Vikas Kumar, Amita Verma, Girija Shankar Shukla, Manju Sharma. Antidiabetic, antioxidant, antihyperlipidemic effect of extract of Euryale ferox salisb. with enhanced histopathology of pancreas, liver and kidney in streptozotocin induced diabetic rats. Springerplus. 2015; 4: 315. PMID: 26155454
  7. Phillips SM, Van Loon LJ. Dietary protein for athletes: from requirements to optimum adaptation. J Sports Sci. 2011;29 Suppl 1:S29-38. PMID: 22150425
  8. Tamar Weinberger, Scott Sicherer. Current perspectives on tree nut allergy: a review. J Asthma Allergy. 2018; 11: 41–51. PMID: 29618933
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