Lotus root

19 Interesting Facts About Lotus Root

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Lotus root, also known as renkon in Japan or lien ngau in Cantonese, is an aquatic vegetable that is popularly used in Asian cuisines. This crunchy ingredient has a unique appearance resembling a snowflake and offers various health benefits.

Introduction

With its mildly sweet flavor and crisp texture, lotus root makes for a tasty and nutritious addition to stir-fries, soups, and other dishes. While native to India and China, today it is cultivated and consumed widely across eastern and southeastern Asia.

Lotus root has been used medicinally and as a food source for centuries in China due to its nutritional content and health properties. Read on to learn more interesting facts about this fascinating ingredient!

Renkon chips AUD4, complimentary pickles - Mr Ramen San, Hawthorn
Renkon chips AUD4, complimentary pickles – Mr Ramen San, Hawthorn by avlxyz is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 .

1. Lotus Root is the Stem of the Lotus Plant

The lotus plant grows abundantly across Asia and Australia. Lotus root is the stem of the lotus plant that grows underwater. It connects the flower and leaves to the roots at the bottom of the pond or river.

2. Has a Unique Snowflake-Like Shape

When you cut a lotus root, it reveals a beautiful snowflake-pattern that is completely natural. This distinctive shape is due to the way the plant’s vascular tissue connects during growth.

3. Texture is Crisp Like a Raw Potato or Apple

Raw lotus root is extremely crispy, with a firm, crunchy texture similar to a potato or apple. Its crispness makes it perfect for stir-frying, deep-frying, or just eating raw in salads.

4. Tastes Like a Cross Between Potato and Water Chestnut

The interior flesh is bright white with a mild, slightly sweet flavor. It tastes like a cross between a potato and water chestnut—slightly nutty and savory.

5. Highly Nutritious and Low in Calories

Lotus root is packed with nutrients including vitamin C, potassium, thiamin, copper, and manganese. It also provides a good amount of fiber. Plus, it’s low in calories—only 74 calories per 100 grams.

6. Rich Source of Antioxidants

Several antioxidant compounds have been identified in lotus root, including flavonoids, alkaloids, and polyphenols. These compounds help neutralize free radicals and may offer health benefits.

7. May Boost Heart Health

The potassium, fiber, vitamin C, and antioxidant content in lotus root all support heart health. Studies suggest the vegetable may help lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

8. Contains Compounds That Modulate Blood Sugar

Lotus root possesses anti-diabetic effects. Certain compounds present may help lower blood sugar levels, making it potentially useful for managing diabetes.

9. Long Shelf Life When Stored Properly

Fresh lotus root can be stored for up to two weeks when kept in the refrigerator in a plastic bag. Proper storage retains its texture and flavor.

10. Has Been Cultivated for Over 3,000 Years

Lotus plants have been cultivated in ponds and marshes across Asia for over 3,000 years for their edible roots, seeds, leaves and flowers. Every part is utilized.

11. Main Producer is China

China leads global production, accounting for over 70% of lotus roots produced worldwide. Japan, Taiwan, and South Korea are other major producers.

12. Grown in Flooded Paddies Like Rice

Lotus root cultivation occurs in flooded paddies that are also used to grow rice. This aquatic environment allows the plant’s stems and roots to flourish.

13. Harvesting is Challenging

Lotus roots grow up to 1-2 meters deep in ponds. Farmers must wade through thick, deep mud to harvest the roots by hand—a challenging process.

14. Commonly Used in Asian Hot Pot

In China and Japan, lotus root is a popular ingredient in hot pot dishes. It is valued for its texture and ability to absorb the flavors of broths and sauces.

15. Added to Soups to Symbolize Marital Harmony

Lotus root knots that resemble linked hearts are sometimes added to wedding soups and stews across Asia. This symbolizes a couple’s love and the desire for a harmonious marriage.

16. Used to Make Healthy Chips and Fries

Sliced lotus root can be fried or baked into chips and fries. These crunchy snacks retain nutrients and have a lower fat content compared to potato chips.

17. Has Antifungal and Antibacterial Properties

Certain biochemical compounds found in lotus root exhibit antifungal and antibacterial effects in lab studies. However, more research is needed.

18. Tea Can Be Made From the Leaves and Flowers

In addition to the roots, lotus leaves and flowers are used to make fragrant, caffeine-free tea. Lotus tea contains antioxidants and vitamins.

19. Versatile Ingredient in Asian Cooking

Stir-fries, stews, salads, snacks, and more—lotus root adds texture and nutrients to a diverse range of Asian dishes thanks to its unique taste and crunchy quality.

Conclusion

With its one-of-a-kind snowflake shape and crispy texture, lotus root is an intriguing ingredient that has been treasured for millennia. This aquatic vegetable offers a host of nutritional benefits—from fiber and minerals to potent antioxidants. Next time you’re cooking Asian food, consider adding some lotus root!


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