Water Chestnuts Can Enhance Weight Management, Immunity & Digestion
Frequently featured in stir-fries and steamed vegetable medleys — along with bamboo shoots — most people have tried water chestnuts at one point or another, whether they know it or not. This starchy aquatic veggie offers a unique taste and texture, plus an incredible array of benefits.
High in antioxidants, fiber and a wealth of micronutrients, adding this versatile vegetable to your diet can be fantastic for your health.
So what exactly is a water chestnut, and are canned water chestnuts healthy? Plus, how can you start adding this flavorful veggie to your daily diet?
Let’s take a closer look.
What Are Water Chestnuts?
Water chestnuts, also known as Eleocharis dulcis or Chinese water chestnuts, are aquatic vegetables that belong to the sedge family (Cyperaceae). Despite their name, water chestnuts are not related to true chestnuts (which are nuts from chestnut trees). Instead, they are the corms (underground, bulb-like storage organs) of the water chestnut plant, which grows in marshes, ponds, and shallow water bodies.
Water chestnuts have a crunchy texture and a slightly sweet and nutty flavor. They are commonly used in Asian cuisine, especially in Chinese, Thai, and Indian dishes. These vegetables are prized for their crispness and ability to hold their shape even after cooking, making them popular ingredients in stir-fries, salads, soups, and other savory dishes.
In their natural form, water chestnuts have a brownish-black, rough exterior, but once peeled, they reveal a white, crunchy flesh that is enjoyable to eat both raw and cooked. To prepare water chestnuts for cooking, they are usually peeled, sliced, and then added to various dishes to enhance their texture and flavor. In some regions, you might find canned or pre-sliced water chestnuts, making them more accessible in various parts of the world.
Water Chestnut Nutrition Facts
Water chestnuts are low in calories and fat, making them a healthy addition to various dishes. Here are the approximate nutrition facts for 100 grams (3.5 ounces) of raw water chestnuts:
– Calories: 74 kcal
– Carbohydrates: 17.9 grams
– Sugars: 4 grams
– Dietary Fiber: 3 grams
– Protein: 1.4 grams
– Fat: 0.1 grams
– Sodium: 4 milligrams
– Potassium: 584 milligrams
– Vitamin B6: 0.2 milligrams (11% of the Recommended Daily Intake – RDI)
– Vitamin C: 3.4 milligrams (6% of the RDI)
– Magnesium: 34 milligrams (8% of the RDI)
Water chestnuts are a good source of potassium, an essential mineral that helps regulate blood pressure and supports proper muscle and nerve function. They also contain some vitamin B6, which is involved in various enzymatic reactions in the body and supports the nervous system. Additionally, water chestnuts provide a small amount of vitamin C, which acts as an antioxidant and supports the immune system.
Keep in mind that the nutrient content may vary slightly depending on the specific variety and growing conditions of water chestnuts. When cooking with water chestnuts, the nutrient content may change depending on the cooking method used and any additional ingredients added.
Water Chestnuts vs. Jicama
Water chestnuts and jicama are both vegetables with unique characteristics, but they are distinct from each other in terms of taste, texture, and nutritional content. Here’s a comparison between the two:
1. Taste and Texture:
– Water Chestnuts: Water chestnuts have a crunchy and slightly sweet taste. They are commonly used in Asian cuisine, where their crispness adds a refreshing texture to dishes like stir-fries, salads, and spring rolls.
– Jicama: Jicama, also known as the Mexican yam bean, has a crunchy texture too, but it is slightly juicier and less sweet compared to water chestnuts. Jicama has a mildly sweet and refreshing flavor with a hint of earthiness.
– Water Chestnuts: Water chestnuts are small, bulbous corms with a brownish-black, rough outer skin. When peeled, they reveal a white, crunchy flesh.
– Jicama: Jicama is larger and looks like a turnip or large potato. It has a tan, papery skin, and the flesh inside is white, similar to a pear.
3. Nutritional Content:
– Water Chestnuts: As mentioned earlier, water chestnuts are low in calories and fat. They are a good source of potassium and contain some vitamin B6 and vitamin C.
– Jicama: Jicama is also low in calories and fat. It is an excellent source of dietary fiber, providing a significant amount of fiber per serving. Jicama is rich in vitamin C, providing a higher amount compared to water chestnuts. It also contains small amounts of minerals like potassium and magnesium.
4. Culinary Uses:
– Water Chestnuts: They are commonly used in Asian cuisine, especially in Chinese and Thai dishes, as well as in some Indian and Southeast Asian recipes. They are popular for adding crunch to stir-fries, salads, soups, and spring rolls.
– Jicama: Jicama is widely used in Mexican and Latin American cuisines. It can be eaten raw and is often used in salads, salsas, or simply sprinkled with lime juice and chili powder for a refreshing snack. It can also be cooked in some dishes.
In summary, both water chestnuts and jicama offer delightful textural elements to dishes and are low in calories and fat. Water chestnuts are commonly used in Asian dishes, while jicama is more prevalent in Mexican and Latin American cuisines. They each bring their unique flavors and versatility to the table, making them popular choices for different culinary creations.
Certainly! Here are a few simple and delicious recipes that incorporate water chestnuts and jicama into your diet:
1. Stir-Fried Chicken with Water Chestnuts and Vegetables:
– 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast, thinly sliced
– 1 cup sliced water chestnuts (canned or fresh, drained if canned)
– 1 cup broccoli florets
– 1 red bell pepper, sliced
– 1 carrot, thinly sliced
– 2 cloves garlic, minced
– 2 tablespoons soy sauce
– 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
– 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
– Salt and pepper to taste
– Heat the vegetable oil in a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat.
– Add the minced garlic and sauté for a minute until fragrant.
– Add the sliced chicken and cook until it’s browned and cooked through.
– Stir in the sliced water chestnuts, broccoli, bell pepper, and carrot. Cook for a few minutes until the vegetables are slightly tender but still crisp.
– Mix in the soy sauce and oyster sauce, and season with salt and pepper to taste.
– Continue to cook for another minute or two, stirring constantly.
– Serve the stir-fried chicken and vegetables over steamed rice or noodles. Enjoy!
2. Jicama and Mango Salad:
– 1 medium jicama, peeled and julienned
– 1 ripe mango, peeled and diced
– 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
– 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
– Juice of 1 lime
– 1 tablespoon honey
– 1/4 teaspoon chili powder (adjust to taste)
– Salt to taste
– In a large mixing bowl, combine the jicama, mango, red onion, and cilantro.
– In a separate small bowl, whisk together the lime juice, honey, chili powder, and a pinch of salt.
– Pour the dressing over the jicama and mango mixture and toss well to coat everything evenly.
– Let the salad sit for a few minutes to allow the flavors to meld.
– Serve the jicama and mango salad as a refreshing side dish or snack.
3. Jicama Fries:
– 1 medium jicama, peeled and cut into thin strips (like french fries)
– 2 tablespoons olive oil
– 1 teaspoon paprika
– 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
– Salt and pepper to taste
– Preheat your oven to 425°F (220°C) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
– In a large mixing bowl, toss the jicama strips with olive oil until they are evenly coated.
– Add the paprika, garlic powder, salt, and pepper to the jicama, and toss again to coat the fries with the seasonings.
– Arrange the jicama fries in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet.
– Bake for about 20-25 minutes or until the fries are golden and crispy, flipping them halfway through the cooking time.
– Remove from the oven and serve the jicama fries with your favorite dipping sauce, such as ketchup or a yogurt-based dip.
Enjoy these recipes to add the goodness of water chestnuts and jicama to your diet!
- What are water chestnuts? The water chestnut is a type of aquatic plant that produces an edible corm that grows underground. It has a crisp, starchy white interior that stands out from other vegetables because it retains its signature crunch even after cooking.
- Each serving provides a good amount of carbohydrates and fiber, plus micronutrients such as manganese, potassium, copper and vitamin B6.
- Water chestnuts are high in antioxidants and cancer-fighting properties. They may help promote weight loss, enhance heart health and support healthy digestion.
- Best of all, water chestnuts are highly versatile. They can be incorporated into a variety of different recipes as part of a well-rounded, healing diet.