What Is Water Chestnut, Water Caltrop or Singhara and What Are Its Health Benefits?

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 Water Chestnut

Water chestnut or water caltrop is an aquatic plant, belonging to the genus Trapa, whose odd-looking fruit encloses a single large edible seed.

In India, water chestnut is called Singhara, and in Bangladesh, it is called Paniphal. Indian water chestnut comes from three aquatic plants:

  • Trapa bicornis provides the Ling nut or Horn nut.
  • Trapa natans provides the Trapa nut or Jesuit nut.
  • Trapa bispinosa provides the Singhara nut.

Each plant's fruit is called "water chestnut," though they are morphologically different.

The Chinese water chestnut is from a different plant, Eleocharis dulcis, which provides an edible corm. A corm is a small swollen vertical underground stem that becomes bulbous; this part, the corm, is edible. Chinese water chestnut is not a nut, fruit or seed, but an aquatic vegetable.

Singhara (Water Chestnut): the Aquatic Plant
Singhara (Water Chestnut): the Aquatic Plant | Source

About Singhara, the Indian Water Chestnut

Latin Name : Trapa bispinosa

My reason for calling the water chestnut cultivated in India the "Indian water chestnut" is just so that it can be understood that I'm referring to the particular variety that we get in India, since the other varieties differ a lot in morphology than the one found here. That's all!

The water chestnut is an aquatic plant and bears a rough, thick-skinned, not particularly good-looking fruit that has a single large white-colored seed inside.

The plant is grown in ponds, marshes, and seasonal and perennial lakes. More than two-thirds of the plant remains submerged in the water. The upper leaves float on the surface of the water while the lower ones remain submerged just beneath the surface, giving a mat-like appearance to the water surface.

The petioles or leaf stalks are swollen and contain air to help keep the upper leaves afloat. The plant has no primary roots, while the secondary adventitious roots are of two types. One type of root fixes the plant to the muddy substrate, while the other type floats free, being attached to the underside of the leaf base. These have photosynthetic activity as well.

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

Singhara (Water Chestnut)

See the split chestnut with the large white single seed inside.
See the split chestnut with the large white single seed inside. | Source

The singhara or water chestnut plant requires full sunlight for good growth, and water with a rich organic content but a low concentration of salts. Not only is the fruit oddly shaped, it has two to four short, thick, blunt projections jutting out of the thick seed coat.

The seed is triangular in shape, white and thick, with a mild sweet taste. The seed coat of the raw singhara is difficult to remove with the fingers. It can be either be removed by slicing it into two pieces, or by boiling the fruit which makes the seed coat soft enough to remove by hand. The seed coat colors the hands black when one handles the fruit.

Singhara, or the Indian water chestnut, is available in three colors: green, red and a blend of these two colors.

Singhara has been cultivated in India for at least 3000 years for its seeds. In India, one can see roadside vendors hawking this raw or boiled fruit, when it is in season.

Singhara is cultivated in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Thailand, China, Taiwan and Australia.

Nutrients in Singhara or Water Chestnut (Trapa bispinosa)

  • Nutrient.............................................Amount/100 grams
  • Water........................................................48.2 g
  • Protein......................................................3.4 g
  • Fat............................................................0.2 g
  • Carbohydrates..........................................32.1 g
  • Sugars.......................................................3.3 g
  • Energy.......................................................730 calories
  • Dietary Fiber..............................................14.9 g
  • Calcium......................................................17.6 mg
  • Zinc............................................................0.4 mg
  • Iron.............................................................0.7 mg
  • Sodium.......................................................0.8 mg
  • Potassium..................................................468 mg

Source :

Nutrition Benefits

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

Health Benefits

Singhara has been widely used in Ayurvedic and Unani systems of medicine.

Some of the health benefits of singhara or Indian water chestnut (Trapa bispinosa) are:

  • It is cooling and is an ideal aid to counter summer heat.
  • The juice of water chestnut relieves the feeling of nausea and also improves the appetite in kids.
  • It relieves swellings and cleanses the blood.
  • Singhara maintains the proper functioning of the thyroid as it contains useful minerals like iodine and manganese.
  • It is a good source of energy.
  • It is rich in polyphenolic and flavonoid antioxidants and therefore possesses antibacterial, antiviral, anticancer and antioxidant properties.
  • The seed has a detoxifying effect on the body and therefore is very useful to those who suffer from jaundice.
  • A paste of the seed helps to treat cracked heels.
  • The acrid juice is used to control diarrhea and dysentery.
  • The dried seed treats bleeding and miscarriage issues in women.
  • The fruits are used to treat sore throat, anemia, fractures, urinary disorders, bronchitis and leprosy.
  • Powdered singhara relieves cough.
  • To treat measles, chestnuts are boiled in water and the water drunk to alleviate the infection. It is best given from the 3rd day to 9th day of symptoms.
  • The fruit reduces inflammations, treats leucorrhea, acts as an aphrodisiac and also treats sex-related men's issues.
  • Singhara seed powder mixed with lemon juice will help cure eczema if applied regularly.
  • The seed treats hypertension during pregnancy and improves fetal growth.

Water Chestnut Cake


Some Uses

The nuts can be eaten raw, though they are usually boiled.

They are dried to make a flour called singhara atta or chestnut flour, which is used to make Indian roti or Indian flatbread.

Singhara flour is used in many religious festivals like Navratri, and consumed during the days of fasting by devotees who are allowed to partake of this flour as it is not made of grain.

The flour is also added to milk by vendors to make milk creamier.

The flour can also be used to make a batter for deep frying.

These nuts are also used in baking and cooking.

Some Precautions

  1. Do not eat singhara if suffering from constipation, as it is has astringent properties and constipates.
  2. Do not drink water after eating singhara.
  3. Do not consume in excess, as it might cause bloating and abdominal pain.


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.


  • 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).

© 2013 Rajan Singh Jolly

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Comments 26 comments

billybuc profile image

billybuc 3 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!


Kbdare profile image

Kbdare 3 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!

rajan jolly profile image

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

@Bill- thanks, my friend.

@Kbdare-glad you found this informative. Thanks.

catmalone profile image

catmalone 3 years ago

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

DDE profile image

DDE 3 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.

Kathryn Stratford profile image

Kathryn Stratford 3 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!

tobusiness profile image

tobusiness 3 years ago from Bedfordshire, 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.

livingsta profile image

livingsta 3 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!

Vellur profile image

Vellur 3 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.

rajan jolly profile image

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

@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.

Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

Gypsy Rose Lee 3 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.

Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 3 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.

rajan jolly profile image

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

@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.

Au fait profile image

Au fait 3 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 image

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

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

mperrottet profile image

mperrottet 3 years ago from Pennsauken, NJ

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 image

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

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.

Paul Kuehn profile image

Paul Kuehn 3 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand


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 image

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

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.

meeru , 19 months 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 image

rajan jolly 19 months ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA. Author

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.

Richard Nieh profile image

Richard Nieh 11 months 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.

Syed 6 months 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

rajan jolly profile image

rajan jolly 6 months ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA. Author

Syed, thanks for appreciating.

Rajesh 8 weeks ago

Very informative.I want to know name of black color swollen stem grow under 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 image

rajan jolly 7 weeks ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA. Author

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

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