Seeds and Cereals

Health Benefits of Water Chestnut

The water chestnut is of Chinese origin and, despite its name, it is not a nut but a tropical aquatic plant grown in swamps and flooded places along rivers and lakes. It is widely cultivated in the Philippines and popular in Chinese, Thai, Australian, Pakistani, Indian and Filipino cuisines.

In China, chestnuts are even offered as an offering to God in religious rituals. It has a sweet taste and crunchy texture, and can be eaten raw or cooked, in addition to being an ingredient in dishes such as chop suey, a Chinese dish that uses cooked meats with vegetables and a starch-enriched sauce.

From the sedge family, the plant has green tube-shaped stems that normally grow up to 1.5 meters. More than two-thirds of the plant remains submerged while the upper leaves remain floating in the water. Its flowers are small and appear in summer.

The edible part is the tubercle, which has a triangular globular shape coated with a thick husk that is removed after being cut into two parts or boiled to make the coating softer. The Chinese water chestnut takes about 220 days to mature and develops in late summer.

The Chinese water chestnut, water chestnut or Chinese water chestnut, is a vegetable that exists all over the planet, mainly in temperate regions. Even though it is seasonal, in Australia, for example, they are harvested between May and June. The water chestnut can be found canned all year round without losing its “crunchiness”.

Nutritious, low-calorie and fat-free, water chestnuts are a great healthy food option to include in your diet. If the question is where to buy water chestnuts, they are found in raw and canned oriental product stores. Although it can be more practical, fresh nuts contain nearly double the amount of potassium, zinc, vitamin B and vitamin E, so you can get the most out of the benefits of water nuts.



The water chestnut, also known as Singhara, is a vegetable rich in vitamins and minerals that are beneficial to health and can be added to the menu, whether raw, cooked or as an ingredient in dishes. When dry, about 90% of its weight is carbohydrate, mainly starch. It also contains fiber, vitamin B and E, and minerals such as potassium, zinc and manganese.

From the water chestnut, flour is also made which, due to the amount of starch, is used to bread meat and vegetables, thicken soups, stews, sauces and broths. For this, it must first be mixed with cold water in order to avoid the formation of lumps. It can also be used to make bread. Its flour, like the seed, is white in color and has a mild, slightly sweet flavor.

As it is a food of Chinese origin and widely used in oriental cuisine, these benefit from its properties such as improving the circulatory system, its antioxidant and detoxifying properties, among others that we will see below:

  • Beneficial for the heart : Water chestnuts are rich in potassium, a mineral that helps maintain blood pressure levels and heart rate. Potassium, as it controls sodium levels in the body, reduces fluid retention and lowers blood pressure. The insoluble and soluble fiber present help control cholesterol by causing less fat to accumulate in the blood vessel wall.
  • It has detoxifying properties : water chestnut has tonic properties and helps to remove toxins from the body. Because of its detoxifying properties, it can help treat jaundice by assisting the liver in eliminating the toxin.
  • Beneficial for treating the thyroid : the water chestnut is rich in manganese, which, together with iodine, helps to improve the functions of the thyroid gland.
  • Beneficial in combating diabetes : water chestnuts have no fat, gluten, zero cholesterol and soluble and insoluble fibers, in addition to helping to secrete insulin and control blood glucose levels.
  • It has antioxidant properties : being rich in antioxidant substances, water chestnut fights free radicals and helps to strengthen the body and prevent disease.
  • Beneficial for the hair and for the skin: due to the presence of nutrients such as potassium, zinc, vitamins B and E, and its detoxifying and antioxidant properties, the consumption of water chestnut removes toxins from the body that can damage the skin and hair, the result is healthier, more beautiful skin and hair.
  • Beneficial for the digestive system: Water chestnuts have fibers that improve intestinal transit, promote the elimination of toxins, improve nutrient absorption and control swelling. Plant extracts are used in folk medicine for nausea and indigestion, and nut powder for intestines and to remove internal heat. The juice of the water chestnut is beneficial for the liver.

In addition to these, the water chestnut is still used to stimulate the appetite of children and adults, fight anemia, give energy and help treat hypertension during pregnancy. Its popular use also includes cases of measles, in which patients drink a drink made from this vegetable.

Chestnut powder mixed with water or any juice is effective in relieving coughs, and when mixed with lemon and applied to the skin, it helps to cure eczema. Still applied, the paste made from the powdered husks of Castanha da Água relieves swelling.


The water chestnut is of Chinese origin, cultivated in flooded rice fields, it is widely used in cooking in Asian countries. In Brazil, although more difficult, it can be found raw or canned in oriental products’ stores and grocery stores. Canned is most commonly found, as this plant is seasonal.

The water chestnut can be consumed raw or cooked and is present in many dishes of Asian cuisine. In Thailand, for example, Thab Thim Crob, a dessert of water chestnuts with coconut milk , is common . It is also present in Chinese cuisine, especially in chop suey.

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Robert Asprin, APD is a non-dieting Accredited Practicing Dietitian passionate about inspiring positive changes in eating and lifestyle behaviors to help improve health while nurturing relationships with food and body.

Robert Asprin

Robert Asprin, APD is a non-dieting Accredited Practicing Dietitian passionate about inspiring positive changes in eating and lifestyle behaviors to help improve health while nurturing relationships with food and body.

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