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12 Health Benefits of Water Chestnuts and How to Add Them to Your Diet

7 minute read


Water chestnuts have a very deceiving name. They’re not really chestnuts; in fact, they’re not nuts at all. They’re actually a type of tube vegetable that grows in shallow water.

They are crisp and white and can be eaten raw or cooked. It’s understandable if you’ve never had one. They’re not exactly the most popular vegetable. But water chestnuts have numerous health benefits you might not have guessed.

Including variety in your eating habits is an important part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle. With that in mind, let’s explore some of these benefits and also some different ways to enjoy water chestnuts, so you can add them to your next meal.

Low Calories

Even though they are loaded with nutrients, water chestnuts have a delightfully low amount of calories. If you have a strict diet plan that requires you to count calories, water chestnuts would be easy to add to your diet, and the benefits are well worth it.

Antioxidants

These powerful free radical-fighters will help keep your body’s immune system in check. Free radicals are particles that can cause a variety of diseases, and they exist in many common products.

Because free radicals are so difficult to avoid, it’s crucial to load your body with antioxidants, which help boost your immunity and keep the effects of free radicals at bay.

Low-Fat

More good news for those on a diet, water chestnuts have a very low-fat content. Although fat isn’t considered as bad as it once was (we now know sugar is far more harmful), it’s still a good idea to limit the total fat you consume in a day.

If you’re looking for an easy way to get vitamins and nutrients without ingesting too much fat, water chestnuts are a great option.

Heart Health

Water chestnuts have long been used to treat heart health factors, and there is research to support this.

One of the water chestnuts’ most powerful nutrients is potassium. And a high-potassium diet has been associated with a reduced risk of several serious heart problems.

Fiber

If you struggle with digestive issues, a lack of fiber could be the source of some of your problems. If that’s the case, water chestnuts are a convenient and tasty way to load up on fiber.

Plant-based fiber is an important part of a well-balanced diet, and it can help keep your gut health in good order. When your gut is out of balance, it can throw off your entire system, leading to poor energy, restless sleep, poor mood, and even skin issues. To help keep your gut running smoothly, make sure you stock up on plenty of fiber.

Boost Weight Loss Efforts

Even though they contain barely any calories, the nutrients inside water chestnuts mean you’ll feel full even after eating a relatively small amount. For this reason, they can help tremendously with weight loss efforts.

If you find yourself craving a snack and need a low-calorie option that’s better than nutritionless chips or pretzels or the like, grab a handful of water chestnuts and snack away.

Protein

While it’s important not to overload on too much protein, plant-based protein like the kind found in water chestnuts is a safer bet than other protein sources, like red meat.

This is another reason why water chestnuts can make you feel full, even if you haven’t eaten much. The protein content also helps provide energy to your body.

Potassium

As touched on earlier, potassium is a powerful heart health helper, and water chestnuts are loaded with this nutrient.

But potassium has another important function besides just regulating heart health—it can help maintain your body’s proper pH levels, which is extremely important. If your gut isn’t at the right pH, you can feel the effects in the form of low energy and digestive distress.

Manganese

Water chestnuts are loaded with manganese, a little-known nutrient that helps maintain healthy bones. In fact, manganese has a wide range of health benefits itself.

| Related: 15 Best Anti-Inflammatory Foods |

It can help regulate sugar levels, keep your metabolism running at full charge, protect against inflammation, and help support thyroid health.

Copper

Copper also helps with cardiovascular health, but it does a lot more than that. It can help regulate your energy levels and collagen production.

Collagen is an important protein found everywhere from your skin to your cartilage. Without enough collagen, your joints may become stiff or painful, and water chestnuts are a great way to help boost your supply and improve joint health.

Vitamin B6

This is one of the best, most versatile vitamins for your health, and water chestnuts have it in great supply. Vitamin B6 can help with skin health, liver function, mood swings, and even eye health.

If you’re looking for a seamless new way to introduce vitamin B6 into your system, adding water chestnuts to one of your favorite meals could be a good option.

Riboflavin

Riboflavin (also known as vitamin B2) has a multitude of benefits and is essential when it comes to your body’s energy production. Riboflavin helps you break down carbs and convert them into energy.

If you’ve noticed yourself feeling fatigued or “bogged down” during the day, it could be that your body is struggling to produce enough internal energy. If that’s the case, riboflavin-rich foods like water chestnuts could potentially be a huge help.

Tips for Adding Water Chestnuts to Your Diet

If you want to add water chestnuts to your diet, what are the best ways to do so? Well, there are a number of options depending on your taste.

One option is to use dried and groundwater chestnuts as an alternative to flour. Or, if you’d rather experience the vegetable full-on, you can enjoy them grilled, pickled, fried, boiled, or even raw.

They can be easily added to dishes like soups, curries, stir-fries, egg scrambles, and other dishes that include a varied mix of ingredients. They can be purchased fresh or canned in many grocery stores, but if you’re having a hard time finding them, try looking at your local Asian food store, as they are common in Asian cuisine.

The Bottom Line

While we have often eaten water chestnuts as a supporting ingredient in dishes, the Western diet does not often take full advantage of all the health benefits water chestnuts have to offer.

From heart and bone health, to acting as a plant-based protein source, water chestnuts are a great way to stay healthy. Try adding them to a recipe or simply as a snack as you continue enjoying the benefits of a healthy lifestyle.

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