Health Benefits and Uses of Indian Water Chestnut (Singhara)

Updated on November 17, 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.

Singhara is a black-colored fruit with a white seed, as seen in this photograph.
Singhara is a black-colored fruit with a white seed, as seen in this photograph. | Source

About Indian Water Chestnut

English: Water chestnut or caltrop

Bengali: Singhara

Water chestnut or caltrop, is an aquatic plant belonging to the genus Trapa. The edible part is actually a large seed, which is surrounded by an odd-looking fruit.

Water chestnuts come from three aquatic plants:

  • Trapa bicornis provides the ling or horn nut.
  • Trapa natans provides the trapa or Jesuit nut.
  • Trapa bispinosa provides the singhara nut.

Each plant's fruit is called water chestnut, but they are morphologically different from one another.

The Chinese water chestnut is from a different plant, Eleocharis dulcis, which provides an edible corm. A corm is a small underground stem that becomes bulbous. Chinese water chestnuts are not nuts, fruit, or seeds, but aquatic vegetables.

Singhara (water chestnust) are aquatic plants.
Singhara (water chestnust) are aquatic plants. | Source

Nutrients in Indian Water Chestnut (Singhara)

 
 
Water
48,2 grans
Protein
3.4 grams
Fat
0.2 grams
Carbohydrates
32.1 grams
Sugar
3.3 grams
Calories
730
Dietary fiber
14.9 grams
Calcium
17.6 grams
Zinc
0.4 grams
Iron
0.7 grams
Sodium
0.8 grams
Potassium
468 milligrams
 
 
Nutrients are per 100 grams of Indian water chestnut.
A split chestnut with large, white seed inside.
A split chestnut with large, white seed inside. | Source

Health Benefits of Water Chestnut (Singhara)

Singhara is widely used in Ayurvedic and Unani systems of medicine and is used to treat stomach, liver, kidney, and spleen ailments. It is a bitter, astringent, diuretic, and antiseptic plant.

Some of the reported health benefits are:

  • It is a cooling food, ideal to counter summer heat.
  • The juice relieves nausea and can improve the appetite.
  • A paste of the seed helps to treat cracked heels.
  • The acrid juice is used to control diarrhea and dysentery.
  • Powdered singhara relieves cough.
  • The fruit reduces inflammation and may act as an aphrodisiac.
  • Applied regularly, singhara seed powder, mixed with lemon juice, will help treat eczema.

Nutrition Benefits

  • Gluten-free
  • Low in fat
  • Cholesterol-free
  • Low in sodium
  • High in potassium
  • Rich in minerals, including calcium, iron, zinc, and phosphorus
  • Contains moderate amounts of fiber
  • Good source of energy

Culinary Uses for Singhara

The nuts can be eaten raw, though they are usually boiled. When they are dried, they can be milled into a flour called singhara atta, or chestnut flour, which is used to make Indian roti or flatbread.

This flour is used to prepare foods for religious festivals, including Navratri. It is an allowed food during fasting days because it is not made of grain.

The flour is also added to milk to make milk creamier and it can be used to make batter for deep-frying.

Some Precautions

Don't eat singhara if you're constipated. Also, don't consume in excess, as these seeds can cause bloating and abdominal pain.

About the Indian Water Chestnut Plant

Water chestnuts cultivated in India are a specific variety. They have rough, thick skins. They aren't particularly good-looking and have a large white seed.

The plant grows in ponds, marshes, and lakes. The upper leaves float on the surface, while the rest of the plant remains submerged.

The petioles, or leaf stalks, hold air to help keep the upper leaves afloat. The plant has two types of roots: One that fixes the plant to the muddy substrate and a second that is attached to the underside of the leaves and floats free. These roots have photosynthetic activity.

The flowers open above the water surface. After pollination, they submerge themselves so that the fruit can develop. The fruit is always found under the leaves, and when it is mature, it drops off on its own and can be fished out with a net.

Singhara grow in three colors: green, red, and a blend of these two colors. The fruit are oddly shaped. They have between two and four short, thick, blunt projections jutting out from the thick seed coat, which is hard to remove. It can be either be sliced off into two pieces or removed by hand after the seed is boiled. Take care, because the seed coat can color the hands black when the fruit is handled.

The seeds are triangular and thick. They have a mild, sweet taste.

Singhara has been cultivated in India for at least 3,000 years. One can see roadside vendors hawking the raw or boiled fruit when it is in season. It is also cultivated in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Thailand, China, Taiwan, and Australia.

Disclaimer

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

Sources Cited

  1. Adkar, P., Dongare, A., Ambavade, S., & Bhaskar, V. H. (2014, February 10). Trapa bispinosa Roxb.: A Review on Nutritional and Pharmacological Aspects. Retrieved November 17, 2017, from https://www.hindawi.com/journals/aps/2014/959830/
  2. Alfasane, Md. Almujaddade, Moniruzzaman Khonder, M. Mahbubar Rahman. Department of Botany, University of Dhaka, Dhaka‐1000, Bangladesh. Biochemical Composition of the Fruits of Water Chestnut (Trapa bispinosa Roxb.). Dhaka Univ. J. Biol. Sci. 20(1): 95‐98, 2011 (January). Retrieved November 17, 2017, from https://www.banglajol.info/index.php/DUJBS/article/view/8879/6590

Other References Used

  1. Mann, S., Gupta, D., Gupta, V., & Gupta, R. (2011, November 27). Evaluation of Nutritional, Phytochemical, and Antioxidant Potential of Trapa Bispinosa Roxb. Fruit. Retrieved November 17, 2017, from http://www.ijppsjournal.com/Vol4Issue1/3050.pdf

© 2013 Rajan Singh Jolly

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    • rajan jolly profile imageAUTHOR

      Rajan Singh Jolly 

      10 months ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

      Nishith Shah, the water chestnut or singhara referred to in my article is a fruit which grows under water. The plant is also called water chestnut & it grows in water most of it being submerged and some part floating.

      You may decide now whether jains can eat this or not.

    • profile image

      Nishith Shah 

      10 months ago

      Dear Rajan Sir ,

      I am a jain , so pl help me with the information ;

      that as a jain I cannot eat underground root vegetables , so this Indian water chestnut or Singhoda we call it - is it a Fruit or a Root of a plant or a aquatic venerable ?

      I am getting so much confused reading the various articles online .

      Will appreciate if you can share final clarity that as a jain I can eat or it or not ?

      Thanks in advance

    • profile image

      Divesh 

      10 months ago

      Thank you for sharing such valuable information on water chestnuts/caltrops... Apart from carrying vital nutrition values, these are very tasty. Can you please share some recepie where these are used.

      Btw I also read somewhere that they are also rich source of magnesium and potassium.

      Appreciate that you take out time to respond to individual comments with your feedback.

    • profile image

      Ketan 

      11 months ago

      Is shingles is a root fruit?

    • profile image

      Chaudhry 

      11 months ago

      Awesome information

    • rajan jolly profile imageAUTHOR

      Rajan Singh Jolly 

      13 months ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

      Please check with online sellers mrs jyoti.

    • profile image

      mrs jyoti nitin karnik 

      14 months ago

      i want a water chestnut plant to grow in my tub pond, where can i find it please

      thanks

    • rajan jolly profile imageAUTHOR

      Rajan Singh Jolly 

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

      Rajesh, sorry I have no idea what you're referring to.

    • profile image

      Rajesh 

      2 years ago

      Very informative.I want to know name of black color swollen stem grow under water.it is eatable and sweet in taste and after removing skin white color ediable nut appear. It taste is like water chestnut

      In Hindi rural area is called kasaer.

    • rajan jolly profile imageAUTHOR

      Rajan Singh Jolly 

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

      Syed, thanks for appreciating.

    • profile image

      Syed 

      2 years ago

      Many thanks dear it is very informative article regarding water chest nuts and especially it is related to male sex issues , it is very benefited to person especially males who have high cholesterol and Cannot eat some other foods and dry fruits which are contain on high cholesterol , and due to this males whom have their high cholesterol can use this fruit/dry fruit too , I really appreciate you to share such nice and beneficial information

    • Richard Nieh profile image

      Tsu Yuan Nieh 

      2 years ago from Newcastle, UK

      Enjoyed your hub. I used to cook different dishes when I was in school but I am working, I just stick to couple of dish and make them repeatedly. One dish I used to cook is Chinese Perl Meatball. One key ingredient is water chestnut. I remember assuming there is no other water chestnuts than Chinese ones and always went to Chinese stores purchased overpriced ones but one day I suddenly found them in UK super store for 50 pence.

      Anyway, it is one of my favorite food but I never really cared much about its nutrition. Thanks a lot of the info and the water chestnut dishes video looked interesting and delicious.

    • rajan jolly profile imageAUTHOR

      Rajan Singh Jolly 

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

      Meeru thanks for reading my article and appreciating it in so many words. You are right as children we have always liked to eat singhara whether raw or boiled. The health benefits are tremendous.

      Thank you for being here once again.

    • profile image

      meeru , 

      3 years ago

      Had purchased shingoda flour ad an option for grain , I wanted to know its benefits so found thus site - excellent information rajanji!! Also will lookup recepies , have eaten the fruit since childhood - raw and juicy ,addictively so never thought of options of using ,info for health benefits as well as nutrients was interesting !

    • rajan jolly profile imageAUTHOR

      Rajan Singh Jolly 

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

      Thanks Paul. Actually drinking water can cause bloating and hence water should not be drunk immediately after eating singhara. Thanks for the read and sharing.

    • Paul Kuehn profile image

      Paul Richard Kuehn 

      5 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand

      rajan,

      This is once again an awesome hub with some great photos. I have eaten water chestnuts in Thailand, but never realized that they had so many beneficial uses. Why can't a person drink water after eating singhara? Voted up and sharing. Also Pinning and Tweeting.

    • rajan jolly profile imageAUTHOR

      Rajan Singh Jolly 

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

      Thanks Margaret. We prefer eating the fruit by boiling and removing the black skin, sprinkling some rock salt and eating as a snack. Thanks for the votes and sharing.

    • mperrottet profile image

      Margaret Perrottet 

      5 years ago from San Antonio, FL

      Another excellent hub. I've had Chinese water chestnuts, but never the Indian variety. The medicinal qualities of plants always amazes me. Voted up, interesting and sharing.

    • rajan jolly profile imageAUTHOR

      Rajan Singh Jolly 

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

      Thanks, Au fait. I hope you get these water chestnuts where you live. Thanks for the votes and sharing.

    • Au fait profile image

      C E Clark 

      5 years ago from North Texas

      Very interesting and educational article as always. Your photos for the recipes for the cakes look so delicious! You always provide an excellent read and I always learn something which I look forward to. Voted up, interesting and useful! Gave you 5 more stars and will share!

    • rajan jolly profile imageAUTHOR

      Rajan Singh Jolly 

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

      @Rasma-We get them fresh here and I love them. Appreciate your comments and sharing.

      @Peggy-thanks for reading and I appreciate the comments and sharing.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      5 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Rajan,

      We generally always keep a can of water chestnuts in our food pantry and I love to incorporate them into some of my stir fry oriental flavored type of meals. I never even thought about how they were grown or harvested. Thanks for enlightening me and others who will be reading this hub. You are a genuine fount of information! Gave this 5 stars, will share + up, useful and interesting votes.

    • Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

      Gypsy Rose Lee 

      5 years ago from Riga, Latvia

      Thanks for sharing. I used to use water chestnuts quite a bit in Chinese cooking however we can't get them here now or if they show up in cans they're quite expensive but I do enjoy them. Passing this on. Hope you're having a great weekend.

    • rajan jolly profile imageAUTHOR

      Rajan Singh Jolly 

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

      @catmalone-glad you found it information. Thanks.

      @Devika-glad you like the info. Thanks.

      @Kathryn-thanks for stopping by.

      @Jo-nice to know you find this info useful. Thanks for the visit and sharing.

      @livingsta-maybe you could try them now. Appreciate your sparing time to read and leave a comment.Thanks for sharing.

      @Nithya-thanks fro reading and leaving a comment.

    • Vellur profile image

      Nithya Venkat 

      5 years ago from Dubai

      Great hub and information about the water chestnut. I did not know that they were ground into flour and used. Thanks for sharing.

    • livingsta profile image

      livingsta 

      5 years ago from United Kingdom

      This is useful and interesting Rajan. Thank you for sharing this with us. I have never tasted these!

      Voted up and sharing!

    • tobusiness profile image

      Jo Alexis-Hagues 

      5 years ago from Lincolnshire, U.K

      Hi rajan, another interesting write.... I use water chestnuts in stir fries occasionally and that's about it. You've opened up a whole new way of looking at them for me, such a very versatile food!... Thank you for this information, up and sharing.

    • Kathryn Stratford profile image

      Kathryn 

      5 years ago from Manchester, Connecticut

      I never knew water chestnuts were an aquatic vegetable, and I have never seen what they look like before they're canned. Very interesting!

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 

      5 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      A truly amazing hub about the water chestnut, I am so glad I saw this hub you have written another well informed topic. Voted up and interesting.

    • catmalone profile image

      catmalone 

      5 years ago

      Very useful and informative hub. I didn know that chest nuts have so many nutritional value. Great hub!

    • rajan jolly profile imageAUTHOR

      Rajan Singh Jolly 

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

      @Bill- thanks, my friend.

      @Kbdare-glad you found this informative. Thanks.

    • Kbdare profile image

      Kbdare 

      5 years ago from Western US.

      Wow, greatly researched Hub! I did not know that there were three different kinds of water chestnuts and the one being most common to me being more of a vegetable than a nut. Thanks for sharing!

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I always learn so much from you, Rajan! Thank you for being my teacher with these great hubs.

      Have a wonderful weekend!

      bill

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