Lotus, also known as water lily, has a root that is cooked in many different Asian cuisines. Planted in the soil of river bottoms, lotus root is brown in color and can grow up to four feet long. This vegetable is crispy and crunchy, resembling a texture like water chestnuts. You can find lotus roots at your local Asian grocery store.

Where does lotus root come from?

Lotus root has been used in traditional Chinese medicine and Ayurveda on the basis of its medicinal effects. There’s no doubt that this plant is packed with many vitamins and nutrients, making it a nutritional powerhouse. Lotus root is native to Asia, New Australia, New Guinea, and parts of the Middle East. It often grows in the mud of shallow rivers, marshes, lagoons, and flooded fields.

Lotus root has a mildly sweet and starchy flavor, which changes depending on how it is prepared. It can be eaten raw or cooked and makes a great addition to soups, stir-frys, and salads.

The Five Health Benefits of Lotus Root

Rhyan Geiger, RDN, is a registered dietitian who launched the world’s first Vegan University –– a mock college experience that guides you through living a plant-based lifestyle. In an exclusive interview with The Beet, she talks about the benefits of lotus root.

1. Lotus root is high in vitamin C

“Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that aids in immune health in a variety of different ways. It fights against free radicals, which are harmful to cells and may cause disease. Vitamin C is able to help protect and prevent damage to cells which can lower instances of disease and sickness,” says Geiger. Luckily, lotus root is packed with vitamin C with one root containing 52 milligrams, roughly 58 percent of the recommended daily vitamin C intake.

2. Lotus root is rich in folate

This essential nutrient is water-soluble and found in many plants. “Folate, also known as Vitamin B9, is important for blood cell formation. It is essential for prenatal health in the prevention of birth defects involving the brain and spine. Lack of folate poses risk to fetal development and growth during,” says Geiger.

3. Lotus root is filled with antioxidants

Antioxidants are free-radical-fighting molecules found in many plant foods. A study found that lotus root had 13 different phenolic compounds that have been studied to lower the risk of diseases associated with oxidative stress, like inflammatory disorders.

4. Lotus root is high in potassium

“Lotus root can aid in cardiovascular health due to its richness in potassium. Potassium can help manage blood pressure because potassium lessens the effects of sodium and also relaxes blood vessels which can lower blood pressure,” says Geiger. One medium-sized lotus root has a whopping 640 milligrams of potassium, which is 14 percent of the potassium you need in a day.

5. Lotus root is a great source of protein

Lotus root is filled with protein and makes a great meat substitute in many dishes. A medium raw lotus root contains a little over two grams of protein. It’s a great addition to any meal as it’s filled with protein but low in saturated fat and cholesterol.

How to cook with lotus root

Lotus root is used in many traditional Asian cuisines, such as Chinese, Japanese, and Indian. Not only is it healthy, but it’s super crispy and will elevate any dish.

Here are four ways to cook it:

  • Boil lotus root with your favorite spices for a delicious stew.
  • Bake slices in the oven to make crispy chips.
  • Stir-fry lotus root with other veggies for a hearty meal.
  • Add sugar and honey to lotus root for a sweet dessert.

Bottom Line: Lotus root is a great healthy option that's packed with antioxidants, protein, potassium, folate, and vitamin C.

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