Makhana: A Superfood for Sure!

Makhana, also known as Foxnut, is a widely consumed snack during fasting in India. It is becoming a popular snack among health-conscious consumers due to its healthier nutrient. Makhana is mixed with different seasoning and flavouring substances, and a range of ready -to-eat Makhana snack packs are available in the market. In this article, we discuss the nutrient profile of foxnut, spell out its health benefits, share some recipes that are easy to prepare at home, and give some tips on how to pick a healthier version of ready-to-eat makhana snack from market.

                                                                                                                           Richa Pande

Makhana is the edible seed of the gorgon plant, a species of water lily, and thus it is also called the Lotus Seed. Traditionally, the seed is roasted or fried, and is mixed with oils and herbs and eaten during fasting observed in India during Navratri and in the month of Sawan.

Makhana has a healthy nutrient profile

Makhana has a healthy nutrient profile. 100 g of makhana provides about 347 calories of energy, contains about 9.7 g of protein, and has 14.5 g of fibre. It is also a good source of micronutrients such as- potassium, magnesium, iron, and calcium. These micronutrients play an important role in metabolic activities thus promoting our wellbeing. Makhana is also rich in natural antioxidants such as Gallic acid, kaempferol and chlorogenic acid that have many health benefits.

Makhana is the edible seed of the gorgon plant, a species of water lily, and thus it is also called the Lotus Seed. Traditionally, the seed is roasted or fried, and is mixed with oils and herbs and eaten during fasting observed in India during Navratri and in the month of Sawan.

Makhana has a healthy nutrient profile

Makhana has a healthy nutrient profile. 100 g of makhana provides about 347 calories of energy, contains about 9.7 g of protein, and has 14.5 g of fibre. It is also a good source of micronutrients such as- potassium, magnesium, iron, and calcium. These micronutrients play an important role in metabolic activities thus promoting our wellbeing. Makhana is also rich in natural antioxidants such as Gallic acid, kaempferol and chlorogenic acid that have many health benefits.

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The glycaemic index score of fox nuts is under 55, and thus makhana can be classified as low GI food. Low GI foods are the food items that contain carbohydrates which are digested slowly in the body. Eating them leads to a gradual and comparatively low rise in the blood glucose and insulin levels. This also means that these foods can help you keep feeling full for a longer duration. Therefore, these food items are considered good for health, and are specifically recommended to individuals who have diabetes.

As fox nut is rich in antioxidants, it is also considered good for skin health, heart health, and could be helpful in prevention and management of chronic inflammation. It is a good snack for individuals with rheumatic arthritis.  Its fibre content makes it good for your digestive health as well. 

Fox nut is a great snack for individuals with wheat allergy or gluten intolerance. But some ready-to-eat makhana packs may have seasonings that might contain ingredients like wheat flour. Thus, it is very important to check labels, and avoid picking packs with such ingredients. Look for packets that have ‘Gluten-Free’ claim on them.

Makhana is high in magnesium, calcium and potassium and low in sodium. Thus, it is a good snack for people who have hypertension. Some ready-to-eat makhana packs might have added salt and thus you must go through the food labels to avoid picking such packs. As makhana is rich in calcium, it is also good for your bone and teeth health.

Makhana is also a good source of selenium which is known to be effective in prevention and management of thyroid disorders. Due to its healthier nutrient profile, it also makes an excellent snack for pregnant women, and individuals aiming for weight loss.

Preparing home-made snacks using makhana 

  • Roast the makhana seeds in one teaspoon of ghee or oil. You can have them as it is or season them with herbs, and spices of your choice. Some common herbs and spices – pepper, rock salt, lemon, oregano, parsley, turmeric coriander, etc.  You can also add cut onions and tomatoes and make ‘makhana chaat’.
  • Makhana kheer is a popular traditional Indian recipe. You can add sugar, and other nuts and dry fruits to it as per your choice.

Picking a relatively healthier ready-to-eat makhana snack 

Check the ingredient list, and nutritive value table before choosing a snack

  • Prefer picking packs with low amounts of saturated fats, sodium, and sugar & prefer the ones with more amounts of protein, dietary fibre, MUFA, and PUFA.
  • Prefer packs with vegetable oils like sunflower oils, rice bran oil, cottonseed oil, and avoid the ones with palm oil that has more amount of saturated fats.
  • Avoid picking packs that have maltodextrin in their ingredient list.
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