By: Nutrition expert- Vidula Kozarekar, Mumbai.
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Lotus, a well-known aquatic plant, has been widely cultivated for food production, ornamental, horticulture and traditional Asian medicine in China, Korea, Japan and India. Its root, which contains abundant dietary fibres, starches, sugars, proteins, amino acids, minerals, vitamins and phenolics, is popularly consumed as both a delicious and nutritional vegetable and a therapeutic herb (1).
Some pharmacological potentials of the ethanol- and methanol-soluble extracts of lotus root, are proposed to be closely related to phenolic compounds.
Pharmacological potentials of Lotus root:
- Antioxidant activity
Among more than thirty-six selected vegetables, lotus root exhibited the strongest antioxidant activities. Phenolic compounds were regarded as the main contributors in consideration of the significant positive correlation between phenolics content and antioxidant capacity (2), (3).
- Beneficial for heart health
Lotus root is high in fibre, which keeps cholesterol levels down. There are 218 milligrams of potassium in 1/2 cup of boiled lotus root, which is 5–10% of the daily requirement for most adults. Getting enough potassium, through foods like lotus root, helps with high blood pressure. Also, the folate and vitamin C in lotus roots are essential for heart disease prevention (4), (5).
- Digestive health
It is used in the treatment of dysentery, dyspepsia, diarrhoea, and piles. However, the methanol extract possesses antipyretic, antimicrobial, antifungal, antibacterial and anti-diarrhoeal effects (6).
- Diuretic activity
A dose dependent effect of methanol extract of the rhizome of lotus was observed at 300 mg/kg, 400 mg/kg and 500 mg/kg. With the increase of dose, the volume of urine excreted increases. Thus, alcoholic extract of rhizome possesses diuretic activity (6).
- Improves learning and memory
Results from a study suggest that N. nucifera rhizome (Lotus root) extract may improve learning and memory with enhancing neurogenesis in the DG of the hippocampus (7).
How to store and use Lotus roots?
They are best kept in the refrigerator and when they are ready to be used, trim the ends and peel the outer skin. Slice them thinly or cut into cubes. They brown easily so rinse the slices in vinegar or lemon water before cooking.
- Usually sliced crosswise to reveal their attractive pattern of holes.
- Traditionally added to soups and stews or simply stir-fried, as well as braised in soy sauce.
- They can also be thinly sliced and added raw to salads.
- Another way of enjoying them is deep-fried into chips.