Nutritional and Health Benefits of the Lotus Plant

Updated on November 24, 2017
rajan jolly profile image

Rajan is a botany and chemistry major. He has worked as a poultry breeder for 23 years breeding layer and broiler parents.

Lotus plants grow in water.
Lotus plants grow in water. | Source

Latin name: Nelumbo nucifera.

The lotus is the national flower of India and Vietnam. It has cultural and religious significance in many Asian traditions. In India, lotus are considered sacred and are revered by Hindus. Some deities, including Lord Vishnu, Lord Ganesha, Goddess Lakshmi, Goddess Saraswati, and Goddess Ganga, are portrayed standing or sitting on lotus flowers. Likewise, the lotus has religious significance in Chinese Buddhist traditions.

Lotus plants offer many health benefits, as well. Different parts of this beautiful plant can be used for health and nutrition. Read on for more about how to use this plant and how it grows.

Medicinal Uses of the Lotus Plant

For centuries, lotus flowers, seed, leaves, and parts of the underground stem (rhizome) have been used to make medicine.

Dried lotus seeds.
Dried lotus seeds. | Source

Lotus Roots Nutrition Facts Profile

  • Moderate in calories, provides 74 cals per 100g.
  • Good levels of dietary fiber, about 13% of daily requirement.
  • Low in fat and no cholesterol.
  • Excellent source of Vitamin C, with 73% of RDA per 100g.
  • Provides a number of B-complex vitamins and several minerals, along with good amounts of copper and iron.
  • Low in sodium and high in potassium and has the optimum 1:4 ratio of these minerals.
  • Seeds are rich in protein and minerals.
  • Lotus contains several alkaloids and flavonoids.

Nutrient Levels Per 100g of Lotus Root

Nutrient
Amount
% of USRDA
Calories
74
3.70%
Carbohydrates
17.23g
13%
Protein
2.60g
5%
Total Fat
0.10g
0.50%
Cholesterol
0mg
0%
Dietary Fiber
4.9g
13%
Folates
13mcg
3%
Niacin
0.400mg
2.50%
Pantothenic acid
0.377mg
7.50%
Pyridoxine
0.258mg
20%
Riboflavin
0.220mg
17%
Thiamin
0.160mg
13%
Vitamin C
44mg
73%
Sodium
40mg
3%
Potassium
556mg
12%
Calcium
45mg
4.50%
Copper
0.257mg
29%
Iron
1.16mg
14%
Magnesium
23mg
6%
Manganese
0.261mg
1%
Selenium
0.7mcg
1%
Zinc
0.39mg
3.50%
(Source: USDA National Nutrient data base.)

Lotus Stems and Roots

If you see something called "lotus sticks" in a produce market, keep in mind that these are the stems of the plant, not the roots. The roots are fine and thin and are found below the stem in the mud under the rhizome.

The stems have a stiff exterior and have several hollow, tube-like, symmetrical canals that run their lengths in a circular fashion. These can be seen when the stem is cut horizontally into sections.

Since the stems may harbor parasites, they should be cleaned thoroughly to remove mud and then cooked before eating.

These are lotus stems, not roots.
These are lotus stems, not roots. | Source
Sliced lotus stem, showing the hollow structures inside.
Sliced lotus stem, showing the hollow structures inside. | Source

The Lotus Fruit (Seed Head)

The fruit or seed head resembles the spout of a watering can. Amazingly, the seeds remain viable, under the right conditions, for hundreds of years. Seeds as old as 1,300 years old were found in a dry lake bed in China, and were still viable enough to germinate.

Lotus fruit, or seed head.
Lotus fruit, or seed head. | Source

Cooking Uses of the Lotus Plant

All the parts of the lotus plant—the stems, leaves, flowers, seeds, stamens, and seed pods—are edible.

  • The stems are eaten as a vegetable. The younger stems are also pickled. These can be used in soups or salads, stir-fried, deep-fried, or braised.
  • The large leaves are used to wrap around sticky rice as they do not stick to the food. Dried leaves are used to make lotus tea.
  • The seeds can be made into a paste to make soups and are also used in cooking and baking.
  • Ground, roasted seeds can be used as a coffee substitute.
  • The flower petals are used as a garnish. Dried lotus stamens are used to make tea.
  • The seeds can be eaten as a snack when roasted, boiled, or candied. They add a lovely flavor to food. Ground into a flour, they can be used to thicken soups or to make bread.

Lotus Stem Pickle (Kamal Kakdi Achar)

How Lotus Plants Grow

Lotus flowers are called "Kamal" in India. They are aquatic perennials that grow in a tropical to subtropical climate. Native to tropical Asia and Australia, they are commonly cultivated in water gardens for show as well as for their edible parts.

Lotus leaves float on the surface of the water, whilehe flowers grow on stalks that rise well above the water surface. The stem and leaf surfaces are coated with a waxy substance that makes them water-repellent.

Source

Lotus plants are typically about five feet tall. The leaves are thin and large, sometimes as big as two feet across. The flowers too can be big, sometimes as many as eight inches in diameter. Flowers are pink and white.

Lotus plants are among the few species of plants that can regulate the temperature of their flowers within an optimal range to attract cold-blooded insects for pollination. In fact, a study conducted at the University Of Adelaide, Australia found that even when the environmental temperature dropped to 10 degrees C, the flower temperature was maintained at 30-35 degrees C.

A pink lotus flower.
A pink lotus flower. | Source

Sources Cited

  1. Fanous, S. (2016, June 16). The Power of the Lotus. Retrieved November 24, 2017, from https://www.healthline.com/health/8-uses-for-lotus#overview1
  2. Effects of Lotus Root (the Edible Rhizome of Nelumbo nucifera) on the Deveolopment of Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease in Obese Diabetic db/db Mice. (n.d.). Retrieved November 24, 2017, from http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1271/bbb.110745?src=recsys
  3. In What Nutrients Are Lotus Roots High? (n.d.). Retrieved November 24, 2017, from http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/nutrients-lotus-roots-high-3520.html

References

  • http://www.ijat-aatsea.com/pdf/JUN_V3_07/13-IJAT2007_07-R.pdf
  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lotus_root
  • http://www.flowersociety.org/lotus-plant-study.htm
  • http://www.itmonline.org/arts/lotus.htm
  • http://sayeverything.org/pipermail/sayeverything_sayeverything.org/2011-December/005576.html
  • http://www.bookmydoctor.com/health-article/health-benefits-of-lotus-seeds-makhana-253/
  • http://ayurvedaplace.com/2011/05/11/lotus-%E2%80%93-india%E2%80%99s-most-sacred-plant/
  • http://www.itmonline.org/arts/lotus.htm

Disclaimer

The information provided in this article is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Please consult your physician, or health care provider before taking any home remedies, supplements or starting a new health regime.


© 2013 Rajan Singh Jolly

Comments

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    • profile image

      kahoot 

      2 months ago

      what do they eat

    • profile image

      Kirt 

      4 months ago

      Thanks. For this. Information since my mother with cancer in 2002 i found my self becoming investigative in herbal. Cure for illnesses. Every or most herbs i found. Growing. In my in my environment. I goes online to get details. About it and it uses i wish here in Guyana one day to to cure cancer with herbs

    • profile image

      p srinivasulu 

      5 months ago

      Good very helpfull

    • profile image

      Karthik 

      17 months ago

      Nice article and also very useful information about the lotus uses and its beneficial functions

    • profile image

      Jeff 

      18 months ago

      Hi very informative thanks! I have a question, does lotus plant purify the waters and provide oxygen to the fish in a pond?

    • profile image

      Rocie 

      3 years ago

      I learned passed a year ago that I'm allergic to wheat,rye, barley and I'm Celiac. Since then I have made it a mission of mine to only eat things that can help heal my body. In this mission I was fortunate enough to learn about Lotus, you helped me a lot. I now cook with it every day and I don't miss any of the wheat, rye, and barlye in my life!!!!! :D Thank you Rajan Jolly!!! xoxoxoxox!

    • rajan jolly profile imageAUTHOR

      Rajan Singh Jolly 

      4 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

      Thanks Deepa. Your comments are much appreciated.

    • profile image

      deepa 

      4 years ago

      I came through your link on B profile. each of your hubs are superb. I have bookmarked many for showing it to all. Thanks for taking the pains to write such beautiful masterpieces. btw we have a lotus pond

    • rajan jolly profile imageAUTHOR

      Rajan Singh Jolly 

      4 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

      Yorja, thanks for reading and leaving your comments.

    • creativeaqua profile image

      Yorja Rahmani 

      4 years ago from India

      Till now I only liked Lotuses because they are so damn pretty and is our national flower But after reading your hub, it is marvelous that the plant has so many benefits in so many spheres. Its amazing that the seeds can stand the test of time for thousand plus years.

    • rajan jolly profile imageAUTHOR

      Rajan Singh Jolly 

      5 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

      Thanks for stopping by, Rosemary.

    • roc6 profile image

      roc6 

      5 years ago from Cape Town, South Africa

      So interesting, I love the lotus did not realise that it was edible as well.

    • rajan jolly profile imageAUTHOR

      Rajan Singh Jolly 

      5 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

      @Indian Chef-I like the pickle as well as bhein vegetable. Never tried the pakoras though! Thanks for the votes and sharing.

      @vertualit-thanks.

    • vertualit profile image

      Abdus Salam 

      5 years ago from Bangladesh

      very very informative hub about health benefits. thanks @rajan jolly for sharing this hub.

      useful voted!!

    • Indian Chef profile image

      Indian Chef 

      5 years ago from New Delhi India

      Rajan I liked eating lotus pickle ( bhey ka aachar) and the pakoras of lotus stem but I did not know they are so beneficial for the human body. Voted 5 stars, up, awesome, sharing here and on twitter.

    • rajan jolly profile imageAUTHOR

      Rajan Singh Jolly 

      5 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

      Thanks Radhika for all the votes, read and sharing.

    • radhikasree profile image

      Radhika Sreekanth 

      5 years ago from Mumbai,India

      Lotus is the sacred flower believed to be the seat of Goddess Saraswati. Certainly, it's precious with a rich set of nutrients in all its parts. The picture of the lotus flower is very beautiful.

      Up, useful, beautiful, awesome and interesting. Shared as well.

    • rajan jolly profile imageAUTHOR

      Rajan Singh Jolly 

      5 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

      I do hope you try them. Thanks for reading.

    • swathi180 profile image

      swathi180 

      5 years ago

      I love makhana sabji in roti. Never tried the lotus stem before, now after reading this hub I will definitely try them.Useful and voted up

    • rajan jolly profile imageAUTHOR

      Rajan Singh Jolly 

      5 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

      @Lizam-thanks for the appreciative comments and for the continued support.

      @Joe-thanks for you kind words. Your visit is always appreciated.

      @Devika-I'm glad this info is useful to you. Thanks for coming by.

      @wetnosedag-thanks.

      @shining-I'm glad you could glean useful info from the hub. Always a pleasure to see you. Thanks.

      @vandynegl-thanks.

      @Peggy-it does look like water lily though they are not related. Thanks for reading, voting and sharing.

      @Jo-good to know it provided you with new info. Appreciate the vist, read and sharing.

      @My Cook Book-thanks for stopping by.

      @Rasma-thanks for sharing. I'm glad you found this informative.

    • Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

      Gypsy Rose Lee 

      5 years ago from Riga, Latvia

      Thanks for sharing this interesting and informative hub. I knew about lotus but not about all of the benefits and other things one can do with it. Great videos. Passing this on.

    • My Cook Book profile image

      Dil Vil 

      5 years ago from India

      Excellent hub! Very informative and useful. I have learnt many new things from this hub. Great work! Thanks for the info. I voted it UP

    • tobusiness profile image

      Jo Alexis-Hagues 

      5 years ago from Lincolnshire, U.K

      Wow....another incredible food source, and a fascinating read, I used to think of the Lotus only as a beautiful flower; I now know it is also very nutritious. Thank you for sharing, I'm passing this on.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      5 years ago from Houston, Texas

      I have only seen dried seed pods of the lotus plant used in dried arrangements. To my knowledge I have never eaten it. Amazing plant since all parts of it are edible. It would seem that it also has many health benefits. That is an amazing thing that seeds as old as 1300 years could still germinate! The photos remind me somewhat of water lilies. Thanks for writing this hub. Up, useful and interesting votes + sharing.

    • vandynegl profile image

      vandynegl 

      5 years ago from Ohio Valley

      Awesome information! It is amazing how many uses this plant has!

    • shiningirisheyes profile image

      Shining Irish Eyes 

      5 years ago from Upstate, New York

      Rajan - I found this article so useful and interesting. Although I was very familiar with the pleasing aesthetics of the Lotus plant, I did not know it was edible. What an amazing creation, able to regulate its own temperature. I also was under the misconception that the roots were harvested. Now I know it is the stalk of the plant itself.

      Excellent review on this and filled with interesting info.

      Voting up

    • wetnosedogs profile image

      wetnosedogs 

      5 years ago from Alabama

      Amazing. Such a beautiful flower.

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 

      5 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      The lotus plant sounds a wonder plant, I had no idea of this plant or the benefits, you somehow manage to find something new to write about and I enjoy so very much to read such information. Voted up and interesting!

    • hawaiianodysseus profile image

      Hawaiian Odysseus 

      5 years ago from Southeast Washington state

      Now all of this was brand new information for me. I didn't realize, for one thing, that the stems of the lotus plant are edible. The health benefits of lotus are also interesting. You've once again provided your readers with an "encyclopedia in a nutshell" article about another wonderful health and nutrition source. Thanks for consistently doing a marvelous job of research and writing, Rajan! Aloha!

      Joe

    • Lizam1 profile image

      Lizam1 

      5 years ago from Victoria BC

      Rajan, how do you do it? You are such a prolific hubber with so many great tips for health and wellness. Thanks for all you share with us.

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