Foxnut or lotus seed, most popularly known as Phool makhana or makhana is an aquatic crop that is primarily cultivated in Bihar. Being one of the most nutrient-dense superfoods, it is commonly used in Indian kitchens to prepare curry, kheer, raita, or prasad.

Being low in calories and high in nutrients like calcium, zinc, protein, and antioxidants, Makhanas are easy to chew and quick to digest. This makes makhana one of the most loved ingredients that can be enjoyed by elders and toddlers alike. 

Experts believe that incorporating makhana into the diet regularly can help get rid of joint-related complaints, skin issues, obesity, and high cholesterol. Further, Ayurveda suggests incorporating makhana for strengthening the heart’s health. 

Through this well-researched piece of writing, let’s try to understand the health benefits of makhana and ways of incorporating it into the diet pattern. Let’s start this by understanding the farming of makhana.

How is Makhana Produced?

Harvesting makhana is a laborious process and requires skilled labor. There are various steps to it arranged one after the other- 

1) Collection

This is the first step that involves the collection of makhana seeds from the extreme bottom of the lotus flower, in a deep pond or river. This process is usually manual, however, in some regions, farmers use bamboo poles known as kaara to collect the makhana seeds. Once the seeds are collected, the next immediate step is to thoroughly wash and clean them. 

worker collecting lotus seeds from the bottom of freshly plucked flowers

2) Cleaning and Storage  

As lotus seeds are buried deep in the pond they are wrapped in dirt, mud, dust, and seashells. Thoroughly cleaning the makhanas is very crucial as it determines the final quality of a finished makhana. 

To clean the makhanas, the collected makhana seeds are put into a special container called ganja which is shaken and swang repeatedly by touching the water surface until all the seeds get cleaned. 

The seeds are further sun dried for temporary storage. And, to keep the makhana nuts fresh, water is sprinkled at regular intervals. 

3) Gradation

This is a very important step. In the process of grading the seeds are sieved for grading using a sieving device known as Jharna. 

Each makhana is given a grade between 5 to 7 based on their sizes. This grading of makhana enables uniform heating of each nut during the roasting process. 

4) Roasting and Popping 

makhanas kept for sun-drying in a cane basket

Once the makhanas are dry, the next step is to fry them immediately otherwise they can easily get spoilt. Traditionally, the sun-dried makhanas are heated in a cast iron pan or earthen pitcher. Further, the moisture content of the makhana seeds is reduced to around 20% and they are kept for tempering in pots/baskets for about 42 or 72 hours. 

5) Polishing

Once the roasting and popping are done, the next important step is the polishing of makhana. This is done immediately post-popping in order to avoid moisture absorption. Polishing is crucial as it provides more whiteness to the popped makhana. 

The makhana is now packed in airtight containers or packets and made commercially available. 

Health Benefits of Makhana

  • Relieves Insomnia 

If you are dealing with sleeplessness or poor quality sleep, you should incorporate lots of makhana into your diet. Makhana contains stress-relieving properties that help to calm the brain, secrete the sleep hormone, and boost mood. This results in quality sound sleep.

  • Supports Healthy Joints and Bones

Makhana is loaded with nutrients, the most abundant of which is calcium. Every 100g of makhana contains 60mg of calcium approximately. So, If you had been looking for calcium supplements to improve your bone health, try hands on a fistful of makhana each day and feel the difference. 

  • Aids Weight Loss

Makhana is a healthy snacking option to munch on! If you are on a weight loss journey, Makhana can prove to be your savior. Loaded with protein and fiber that helps to curb cravings, suppress appetite, boost metabolism and cleanse the colon. Makhan can speed up your weight reduction journey as a whole. 

  • Improves Sexual Performance

Impotency is a common concern amongst men associated with growing stress and anxiety. However, research studies prove that consuming makhanas not only relieve stress, depression, and anxiety but it also increases the quality and quantity of semen. This helps to strengthen intimate bonds and sexual health.  

  • Reduces Signs of Ageing

Foxnut contains a very important natural flavonoid known as kaempferol. This helps to prevent skin inflammation and other skin-related complaints associated with aging. Additionally, makhana is also rich in amino acids like glutamic, arginine, and cysteine that help to block hydration in the skin and give it a glowing even skin tone. 

  • Controls Cholesterol

Phool makhana is one of the most heart-friendly snacking options. Being naturally loaded with HDL (good fat) that helps to reduce bad fat and cholesterol in the blood, makhana promotes heart health. Plus, it also helps to reduce the harmful effect of free radicals in the body. This further strengthens the heart naturally. 

How to Incorporate Makhana into Daily Diet?

The easiest way to consume makhana is to eat it raw or roasted, as a tea time or evening snack. However, you can always get creative with makhanas by trying out different recipes like makhana matar mushroom, makhana raita, makhana kheer, makhana masala, roasted makhana chaat, makhana salad, and a lot more. Additionally, you can also grind makhana to a smooth powder and add it to smoothies, milkshakes, protein shakes, curd, and yogurt. 

Makhana is a great start to a healthy morning. You can kick off your day with a fistful of makhana and a glass of lukewarm water. This will not only strengthen your gut but will also build your immunity, cleanse your colon and support your weight loss journey.

Makhana and matar curry in a large bowl

Summing Up-

Unhealthy eating patterns and poor lifestyle choices have taken a toll on life resulting in poor immunity and many other health conditions. Makhana is a superfood loaded with exceptional nutrients that strengthen the immune system, detox the body by eliminating free radicals, and improve overall mental and physical health.

Incorporating makhana into the diet can be your best health decision as it has the ability to heal the body inside and out. Try out different makhana recipes to uplift the nutritional content of each of your meals and let your life experience the makhana magic!