What are lotus seeds and how are they used?

Dried lotus seeds (also known sometimes as lotus nuts) are used most usually in Chinese and Japanese pastries and puddings, or in soups.

Crystallised lotus seeds, a popular snack at Chinese New Year, are made by cooking the seeds in syrup and then drying them.

Lotus seeds can also be popped like corn.

In India the dried seeds are called makhana or gorgon nut.

They are usually sold, as in the photograph, shelled and dried, and also white.

Brown peel lotus seeds are also used. These have been harvested when the seed head of the lotus is ripe.

White seeds are harvested when the seed head is still green, but the seeds within are almost fully developed. The bitter germ is removed (it gets dried and then sold as a herbal infusion). Then the seeds are shelled and demembraned.

The dried seeds need to be soaked overnight in water.

Lotus seeds can also be eaten raw.

Health benefits of lotus seeds

There are all kinds of health benefits (I haven’t been able to find any reliable research to back this up) associated with lotus seeds and they are used extensively in Chinese medicine.

  • If added to clear soups they clear unwanted ‘heat’ from the body – good for heart conditions
  • They contain an anti-aging enzyme (L-isoaspartly Methyltransferase) – as a result of which they are often included as an ingredient in anti-aging creams and cosmetics
  • They contain kaempferol – an anti-inflamatory – which helps repair age-related gum damange
  • They help cure diarrhoea
  • They have calming and sedative properties

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