Introduction to Lotus Root
Nelumbo nucifera, also widely known as lotus, is an aquatic plant that grows in the flood plains of slow-moving rivers and delta areas. It has a very wide native distribution, ranging from central and northern India through northern Indochina and East Asia. Today the species also occurs in southern India, Sri Lanka, Southeast Asia, New Guinea, and northern and eastern Australia, but this is probably the result of human translocations. It has a very long history of being cultivated for its edible seeds and it is commonly cultivated in water farms. It is the national flower of India and Vietnam. The Chinese regards the lotus plant as a symbol of longevity.
What is lotus root? The lotus root is the rhizome of the lotus plant, a stem growing horizontally underground which puts out lateral shots and adventitious roots at intervals. Lotus roots are consumed as a vegetable in Asian countries, extensively in China, Japan, and India. They are sold whole or in cut pieces, fresh, frozen, or canned. Lotus roots are commonly fried or cooked mostly in soups, soaked in syrup, or pickled in vinegar (with sugar, chili, and garlic).
Why does lotus root have holes?
The lotus plant grows in flood plains whereby its roots are mostly buried in mud and anaerobic sediments. The holes in the lotus root enable the drive of oxygen flow from the lotus leaves to the rhizome and roots.
How many holes does a lotus root have?
There are two common varieties of lotus root in the market, the red lotus root has 7 holes while the white lotus on the other hand has 9 holes on the cross-section.
Types of lotus root
The two common types of lotus root selling in the market can be divided into red lotus root (7 holes) and white lotus root (9 holes). There are differences between the two in appearance and texture. You can easily distinguish the two from the colour of the roots itself (red or white) and the number of holes on the cut cross-section.
Nine-hole lotus root (white lotus root)
9-holes white lotus roots are suitable for cold dressing and frying as it is relatively crispier texture and refreshing. The white lotus is generally slimmer in appearance with longer intervals.
Seven-hole lotus root (red lotus root)
7-holes red lotus roots are suitable for stews and soups due to its higher starch content (powdery texture) and relatively lower water content. It is not recommended to use 7-hole lotus root for cold dressing or frying as they won’t be crispy. The surface of the red lotus looks rougher, it has shorter intervals, thicker and generally bigger in size.
How to choose lotus root for cooking?
Choosing lotus root requires one to observe, smell and touch. Good lotus root should have no or minimal damage, no discoloration or bleaching, no rotten or soft spots. They should smell fresh with some earthy smell. Do not buy if they smell like chemical. Touch and feel the lotus root, choose lotus roots which are firm and hard (not soft or bruising). Also, distinguish 7 or 9 holes lotus root type that is suitable for your recipe since they have very different texture.
Can you eat lotus root raw?
While there are no hazards or risks in consuming lotus roots raw, you are recommended to eat them cooked, whether it is steamed, fried, or boiled. Do not eat raw roots as it may increase the chance of bacterial infections.
Lotus Root Nutrition
A serving of 100g lotus root contains 74 calories, with 17g of total carbohydrate and 2.6g of protein, 40mg of Sodium, 556mg of Potassium and 1.16mg of Iron.
Is Lotus Root high in carbs? Lotus root is low in calories, however most calories come from carbohydrates and thus it is high in carbs and not keto-friendly.
Lotus root benefits
Lotus root contains both fiber and complex carbohydrates. These two components work together to help manage your body’s cholesterol and blood sugar. Fiber and complex carbohydrates also help maintain a slow and steady digestive process.
Lotus root is full of important minerals and nutrients. One of these minerals is potassium, which helps regulate blood pressure. Lotus root is also a great source of vitamin C which is important for your body’s daily function.
What are the health benefits of lotus root?
- Promotes steady digestion
- Regulates blood pressure
- Improves blood circulation
- Helps manage cholesterol and blood sugar
- Helps reduce stress
- Nourish skin and hair
- Promote weight loss
- Prevents water retention
- Boosts brain health
- Boosts immunity
Is lotus root good for weight loss?
Yes, lotus root is good for people who are trying to lose weight. It is a low-calorie food with high nutrients and fiber, which will make you feel full and reduce overeating, therefore helps to manage obesity.
Is lotus root a good diabetic food?
With high dietary fibers, lotus root reduces digestion of carbohydrates in body and thus slows down process of sugar absorption in body. This makes lotus root a good diabetic food. Research has also found that lotus root extract is anti-diabetic in nature and can be used in treatment of diabetes. Lotus root with its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory property help fight symptoms of diabetes.
However, be aware that lotus root contains starch, so diabetes patients should not eat too much of it.
Taste of lotus root
What does lotus root taste like? Red lotus root (7 holes) is usually used for stew or soup, its texture is soft and powdery like cooked potatoes. White lotus root (9 holes) has a crispier texture like jicama and refreshing mild sweet flavour and it is usually used for deep-fried, stir-fried, and even salad making.
How can you tell if the lotus root has gone bad?
A freshly cut lotus root should be either light pink (red lotus root) or white (white lotus root) in colour. When a lotus root turns bad, it will appear to be darker in colour like yellowish or brown. Soft and mushy lotus root also indicates that it has gone bad.
How long can you keep lotus root in the fridge?
Unwashed lotus roots can be stored in the fridge up to 2 weeks. Washed and sliced lotus roots stored in sealed bag or airtight container can last up to 5 days in the refrigerator.
How to prepare lotus root?
To prepare the lotus root, wash and rinse the lotus root with cold water and peel off the outer skin, especially when there are dark spots and bruising. Make sure it is free from any mud or dirt. Then, cut and slice the lotus root into about 0.5cm thick. Rinse the lotus slice with cold water until it is clean for cooking.
Why sliced lotus roots turn brown or purple colour?
Lotus root contains Polyphenols which oxides when it is in contact with the air and heated during cooking process. This is the same reason why cut apple and banana turn brown. To prevent the lotus root from turning brown or purple, soak the sliced lotus root in water with a touch of vinegar before cooking. It will help to prevent the decoloration process.
How to cook lotus root?
Here is a list of common lotus root recipe for your reference:
- Pan-fried lotus root
- Lotus root soup with pork ribs
- Lotus root chips
- Stir-fried lotus root
- Pickled lotus root
- Lotus root peanut soup
- Braised lotus root
Check out our lotus root soup with pork ribs recipe!