Is Makhana Bad for Diabetes? Benefits and Side Effects

 Is Makhana Bad for Diabetes? Benefits and Side Effects

If you are from India, makhana will be a familiar term to you. There’s a popular fasting dish made from makhana on the auspicious day of ‘Navratri’.

Diabetics usually try to follow a restricted diet plan omitting all the fancy high carbohydrate and fatty foods.

Makhana or lotus seeds or fox nuts, here, can be a relevant snack in diabetes for its nutritional contents.

But we all know that there are no blessings without some faults. A diabetic obviously can eat makhana but the amount must be moderated by experts.

What is Makhana?

What is Makhana

Makhana is actually dried lotus seed. The production of it needs a lot of labour and time.

The seed collection is the hardest part. After collection, the seeds are washed and then dried in the sun.

After drying they are roasted on a dry pan in a high flame. The black shells are broken and the white puff comes out. Only ⅓ rd of makhana is produced from a whole collection.

Lotus seed or makhana is also known as fox nut. It grows on the leaf of the Euryale fox plant typically in stagnant water.

Eastern Asia, mainly the state of Bihar of India, grows the world’s 90% of the fox nuts. In China, it is used both as food and medicine from ancient times.

Overall Benefits of eating Makhana 

You may become surprised after knowing about the versatile benefits of makhana or fox nuts.

Here, I am giving some examples-

  1. As a diet snack: Dry roasted makhana can be a great diet snack. People who are in the weight lose journey often look for a low calorie snack option.

As makhana contains a negligible amount of calorie and is also high in protein and fiber, it gives you the feeling of fullness.

High insulin level in the blood is also responsible for weight gain. The protein and fat content of fox nuts help to control the release of blood sugar and insulin.

So you can manage your weight by controlling the insulin level.

  1. Effects on heart health: Eating fox nuts in the right amount and manner can provide a generous amount of magnesium and potassium in the body.

Magnesium is a macronutrient which can improve the condition of the heart.

Potassium can reduce blood pressure.

Makhana is low in cholesterol. So, the persons who have risk of developing heart disease can also try this.

Hypertension is a risk factor for heart disease. It has a very low sodium content, so it can not raise blood pressure and is safe for patients of hypertension.

  1. Blood sugar control: Elevated blood sugar is a risk factor for diabetes and some weight gaining diseases.

Makhana is rich in good carbohydrates and has a very low glycemic index. That means eating makhana will not rapidly raise blood sugar level.

Rather the high protein and fiber content will cause slow digestion and absorption. As a result there will be no chance of insulin resistance and diabetes.

  1. Effects on aging: There are some enzymes that can repair the impaired proteins of our body. These proteins are related to aging.

Makhana contains those enzymes that can restrict the aging process. Both as a food and anti-aging skin care products lotus seeds are helpful.

This antioxidant property of makhana is the most unique of all.

  1. In ayurvedic and traditional Chinese medicine: In this genre of medicine, fox nuts are regarded as strengthening agents for the kidney and spleen.

The antioxidants of makhana improve the digestive and respiratory system. Also they help to prevent frequent urination.

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Makhana is considered as an aphrodisiac. That means it helps persons with fertility and impotence related problems such as erectile dysfunction, premature ejaculation etc.

  1. As a detoxifying agent: The blood cells (RBC, WBC) are destroyed in the spleen and make it toxic.

Fox nuts or makhana removes various toxins from the body, especially from the spleen which is the house of toxins..

  1. In Diarrhoea and Constipation: The appropriate amount of makhana eating can improve both the diarrhoea and constipation.

As makhana has some causticity, it is helpful in tightening the stool. Also due to the presence of high fiber, it can add bulk to the stool and thus can prevent constipation in some cases.

  1. In brain activity: Fox nut consumption improves cognitive functions of the nerves because of it’s thiamin content.

Also makhana has natural sedative action. So helps in insomnia.

  1. In bones : Apart from the magnesium and potassium, makhana is also rich in calcium, zinc etc. These minerals are extremely important for bone growth and strength.
  2. Others: Some experts suggest makhana as a protein supplement in vegetarians due to it’s high protein value.

Makhana is gluten free. So it can also be used in protein deficient persons allergic to gluten.

A natural ingredient, Kaempferol, a flavonoid derivative, has potential to reduce inflammation in the body.

Makhana is rich with this compound. So makhana consumption can also reduce the risk of inflammatory disease like arthritis, diabetes etc.

Also this ingredient can delay the greying of hair, wrinkling of skin etc.

Side effects of makhana

Side effects of makhana

Most of the side effects of makhana are developed due to unwise consumption. Either the problem is in the amount or in some particular hypersensitive persons.

  1. Allergy: Individuals have a specific immune system. Some are hypersensitive to a thing, others are not. Makhana eating may cause allergic reactions in some particular persons.

There may be rash, cramps, fever etc.

  1. Hypoglycemic attack in diabetics: You have already read about the blood glucose lowering effect of makhana.

The diabetic patients who are on daily insulin supplement may become hypoglycemic after eating makhana more than the recommended amount.

Both the insulin and makhana combinedly reduce the blood glucose level. So hypoglycemia occurs.

  1. Arrhythmia: The person having arrhythmia should be careful about eating makhana.

If antiarrhythmic drugs and makhana combinedly act, there will be an excess therapeutic effect. Heart rate will be extremely low.

  1. Digestive impairment: Overeating of makhana can lead to constipation, bloating, flatus etc. If you are suffering from constipation, it will be better to avoid makhana.
  2. In pregnancy and lactation: Lotus seed shouldn’t be consumed in pregnancy and lactation period because of their adverse effects on the child.

    How to overcome the side effects

 You must have to consult with an expert before starting makhana eating, especially in the case of diabetes and arrhythmic disease.

  • If you see any unusual symptoms after consumption of makhana, immediately stop this and ask your doctor.
  • Avoid makhana if you have constipation issues already.
  • Fried makhana must be avoided as it is high in calorie value.

Nutrition value of Makhana 

Nutrition value of Makhana 

Makhana is a combo of various nutrients. Low fat, sodium and cholesterol make it a healthy snack for anyone.

 

Makhana (dried lotus seed) – Nutrition Information
# Serving size 100 g
Nutrient Amount Unit DV
Calories332 KCAL
Fat1.97 G3%
Protein15.41 G31%
Carbohydrate64.47 G23%
Folic acid UG
Folate, DFE104 UG26%
Vitamin D (D2 + D3) IU
Vitamin D UG0%
Retinol UG
Vitamin A, RAE3 UG
Niacin1.6 MG10%
Pantothenic acid0.851 MG17%
Vitamin B60.629 MG48%
Isoleucine0.765 G55%
Leucine1.215 G45%
Lysine0.985 G47%
Cystine0.201 G
Valine0.991 G54%
Arginine1.262 G
Histidine0.43 G61%
Aspartic acid1.884 G
Serine0.939 G
Hexadecanoic acid0.288 G
Octadecenoic acid0.23 G
Octadecadienoic acid1.064 G
Octadecatrienoic acid0.102 G
Eicosenoic acid0.043 G
Docosenoic acid0.115 G
Monounsaturated fatty acids0.388 G
Polyunsaturated fatty acids1.166 G
Water14.16 G
Calcium, Ca163 MG13%
Potassium, K1368 MG29%
Zinc, Zn1.05 MG10%
Ash3.99 G
Vitamin C MG0%
Thiamin0.64 MG53%
Riboflavin0.15 MG12%
Folate104 UG
Vitamin B12 UG0%
Folate, food104 UG
Tryptophan0.221 G79%
Threonine0.747 G71%
Methionine0.267 G
Phenylalanine0.767 G
Tyrosine0.375 G
Alanine0.892 G
Glutamic acid3.57 G
Glycine0.826 G
Proline1.285 G
Cholesterol MG0%
Saturated fatty acids0.33 G2%
Tetradecanoic acid0.004 G
Iron, Fe3.53 MG20%
Magnesium, Mg210 MG52%
Phosphorus, P626 MG89%
Sodium, Na5 MG0%
Copper, Cu0.35 MG39%
Manganese, Mn2.318 MG101%
Vitamin A50 IU1%
Phenylalanine + Tyrosine1.142 G65%
Methionine + Cysteine0.267 G25%
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The calorie value is significantly low. Besides these, makhana is also rich in a huge quantity of vitamins and minerals. Eg. Thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, folate and calcium, magnesium, potassium, zinc, iron, phosphorus etc.

How much makhana should you eat in a day?

About 30 gm of makhana is enough for a person a day.

Glycemic index of makhana:

 Glycemic index is a parameter of the rapidity of the blood glucose spike after a carbohydrate meal. It ranges between 0 to 100.

Though there is no registered value, lotus seed or makhana is considered as  low glycemic index food by scientists. (Below 55) It is significantly lower than other carbohydrate foods like rice, bread etc.

Basically low glycemic makhana will not spike your blood glucose rapidly. As a result there will be no instant insulin spike.

So, makhana can decrease the chance of developing diabetes and also can be granted as a diabetic friendly food.

 Makhana in Diabetes

 Diabetes is a disease of defective carbohydrate metabolism due to the diseased pancreas.

Here insulin is either resistant or absent. Type 2 diabetes is caused by resistance of insulin and it is more common.

The most challenging thing regarding diabetes is its management. It can not be totally cured. Management includes restricted diet, exercise and some medications.

Diet includes foods with low glycemic index. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are somehow managed. But they often can’t choose a perfect snack.

Makhana, here, is a perfect snack option. Low calorie value, high carbohydrate, proteins and necessary fats make it able. Starch and vital protein are essential for the good health of a diabetic.

Some research studies said that makhana is rich in fiber, proteins and carbohydrates. These nutrients are proved to produce hypoglycemia. Thus the insulin spike and impaired glucose tolerance is prevented.

The world journal of Diabetes shows that magnesium intake can help in people with diabetes. Diabetics have a tendency to develop heart diseases. Magnesium reduces this risk to a great extent.

Makhana has high magnesium and low sodium content. These improve obesity.

Though makhana uniquely deals with diabetes it has some dark sides too.

Hypoglycemia is the commonest complication of diabetes. Makhana can cause slow release of glucose in the blood. So there is no insulin spike. As a result blood glucose level becomes low.

The patients who are taking insulin and makhana both on a regular basis are the sufferer. They can adversely affect blood sugar and hypoglycemia occur.

Ways of eating makhana in diabetes

Ways-of-eating-makhana-in-diabetes

 You all have a common sense about diabetic diet that it always should be excess salt, oil and sugar free.

Some diabetic friendly recipes of makhana are given below:

  • Dry roasted makhana: The sun dried lotus seeds are simply roasted on a pan until their color changes into slightly brown. It is almost like popcorn but more scrunchy.
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Fig: Dry roasted makhana

No need to use any oil or salt during roasting. You can store them in an airtight container.

  • Dibetic friendly makhana kheer: The traditional kheer includes rice and milk. Makhana with its low glycemic index can replace the high GI rice.

Here, coarsely crushed roasted makhana are added to the boiling milk.

Cardamon, cinnamon, dates and almonds are added for extra flavour. They are also healthy for diabetics and replace the taste of sugar.

  • Diabetic friendly makhana raita:

Raita itself is a healthy item for everyone. It gives a fresh feeling after a meal.

You can easily make it by mixing crushed makhana or lotus seeds with whisked yogurt. Adding masala and salt is optional. You can add black salt instead.

  • Makhana matar masala: It is a simple curry recipe for diabetics. Dry roasted makhanas are added to the gravy and served with roti or chapati.

A very light amount of spices are used here.

Summary

 As a part of ancient diet and medicine lotus seeds or makhana are still demanded. It is largely used in various religious occasions in India.

Fasting dishes are made by this. The auspicious day of Navratri is incomplete without makhana.

The hard criteria of collection and processing are worth their benefits.

Due to the starch and protein components, it is one of the best snacks for the diabetics.

Obesity and overweight are the modifiable risk factors for diabetes and related complications.

Consumption of makhana will keep you satiated for a pretty good duration.

Thus weight control and obesity are managed to a certain extent. Risk factor modifications are a part of prevention. In this way diabetes and its complications are prevented.

People with magnesium deficiency can truly be benefited by fox nuts. Magnesium is also a good mineral for the heart. Makhana provides a good amount of potassium that controls blood pressure.

The detoxification function of makhana helps to get rid of harmful toxins through the spleen.

Makhana is used in ayurveda for infertility management and kidney diseases.

There are some side effects. But eating in a moderate amount can prevent these effects  easily.

The takeaway message for you – If you are suffering from any chronic disease( diabetes, heart disease) or if you are prone to allergic reactions, you will certainly take advice from your health care provider before starting makhana or any new item.

References

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30441982/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28376899/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25092385/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28361824/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29759105/

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1464-5491.2008.02397.x

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0002822310005249

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29759105/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28867097/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/2273190/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26741823/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28802292/

 

Dr Sharon Baisil MD

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