Is It Safe To Eat Lotus Seeds (Makhana) During Pregnancy?

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Makhana, also known as fox nuts or lotus seeds, are popularly used for medicinal purposes in Asia. They are tasteless and fluffy but are high in magnesium, iron, potassium, and calcium that are essential during pregnancy. Lotus seeds or fox nut is the seed of the prickly water lily plant. Low in calories, lotus seeds are a choice of snack for the health-conscious crowd. But is it safe to eat them during pregnancy?

In this MomJunction post, we tell you whether or not it is safe to eat Makhana during pregnancy, how to consume it and its side-effects if any.

Is It Safe To Eat Makhana (Fox Nut) During Pregnancy?

Yes, it is safe to eat fox nut, as they have a high nutritional value. They are rich in calcium, iron, phosphorus, manganese, potassium, B vitamins, amino acids, and antioxidants. These nutrients are especially good for expectant moms who are at higher risk of hypertension and gestational diabetes, and for fetal development.

However, you should eat them in moderation to stay healthy and avoid complications. Keep reading to learn more about the nutritional value of these seeds.

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Nutritional value of makhana (Lotus seeds)

According to the USDA, the nutrition present in 100g of raw Lotus seeds is as follows (1):

Thiamin (Vitamin B1)0.171mg
Riboflavin (Vitamin B2)0.040mg
Niacin (Vitamin B3)0.429mg
Pyridoxine (Vitamin B6)0.168mg
Folic acid (Vitamin B9)28mcg
Total saturated fatty acids0.088g
Total monounsaturated fatty acids0.104g
Total polyunsaturated fatty acids0.312g

g=grams; mg=milligrams; mcg=micrograms; IU=international unit

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Benefits Of Eating Makhana (Lotus Seeds) During Pregnancy

Here are the benefits of lotus seeds during pregnancy:

  1. Helps sleep better: Lotus seeds could help you sleep because of their mild sedative properties. The vitamins and antioxidants in the seeds also regulate the functioning of the body, allowing you a regular sleep routine (2).
  1. Controls diarrhea: Makhana can be a remedy for diarrhea caused by hormonal imbalance in pregnant women. The fox nuts contain small amounts of alkaloids that contribute to the antispasmodic action of the intestines, thereby alleviating diarrhea (3).
  1. Helps regulate blood pressure: The embryo of lotus seeds contains a bitter component called “isoquinoline”, which is calming and dilates the blood vessels, thereby helping in controlling blood pressure (3).
  1. Hydrates skin: Lotus seeds are known for skin-hydrating properties and keep it moisturized from within (4). Lotus seeds tea might help prevent loss of skin moisture, reduce abnormal keratinocytes formation and inhibit protein oxidation.
  1. Regulates blood sugars: Sugar levels in the blood could elevate during pregnancy. Makhana contains B complex vitamins, high fiber and low calories that might help in burning calories and lowering blood glucose levels (5).
  1. Aids fetal development: Lotus seeds are a rich source of proteins, which is necessary for the development of the fetal brain and nervous system (6).

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How To Eat Makhana During Pregnancy?

You may prefer eating them both raw and cooked. Here is how you can enjoy the tasty makhana in your diet.

  • Make delicious popcorn with the flavor of your choice by adding salt, butter or honey
  • Stir fry with some oil or ghee and sprinkle spices for a yummy snack
  • Also, use in sweet dishes such as rice porridge

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How Much Makhana Is Okay To Eat In A Day?

You may take about two to three handfuls of lotus seeds to yield the benefits mentioned earlier. Makhana could also cause certain side effects in a few pregnant women.

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What Could Be The Side Effects Of Eating Makhanas During Pregnancy?

Your doctor may have a few valid reasons when he or she tells you not to include fox nuts in your diet.

  • Overconsumption of the seeds could lead to flatulence, constipation and bloating.
  • They tend to reduce blood sugar levels. If you already have diabetes, you should be careful of not eating them in excess.
  • Some people may have allergies to seeds. In case you feel uneasy upon their consumption, stop eating them and consult your doctor.

Keep reading for a few Makhana (lotus seeds) recipes you might want to try during pregnancy.

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Pregnancy-Friendly Makhana Recipes

1. Phool makhana curry (lotus seeds gravy)

You will need:

  • 1 cup makhana
  • ½ cup peas
  • 1 onion
  • 1 cup tomato puree
  • 2tsp red chili powder
  • 1tbsp coriander powder
  • 1/2tsp turmeric powder
  • 1tsp spice blend (garam masala)
  • 1/4tsp cumin seeds
  • 2tbsp oil
  • Salt for taste
  • Coriander leaves for garnish

For paste:

  • 1 large onion
  • 5 garlic cloves
  • 1 small piece of ginger
  • 1tsp poppy seeds
  • 5 cashew nuts
  • 1tsp oil

How to make:

For making the paste:

  1. Heat oil in a pan, add sliced onions and saute them.
  2. Add chopped pieces of ginger, garlic and saute until they change their color.
  3. Remove the pan from heat and add cashews, poppy seeds and mix properly.
  4. Allow the mixture to cool, and transfer into a blender.
  5. Make a smooth paste by adding some water and set it aside.

For making curry:

  1. Heat the pan, and add lotus seeds. Roast them until they turn crunchy. Keep them aside.
  2. Heat some oil in the pan and add cumin seeds. Allow them to sizzle.
  3. Add onions and saute them for a minute. Then add the onion paste and cook for two minutes.
  4. Add the pureed tomato, coriander powder, red chili powder, turmeric and mix properly.
  5. Cook the mixture on a low flame for four to five minutes until the oil separates.
  6. Add peas, salt, and half a cup of water. Mix well and simmer for five minutes.
  7. Add the roasted lotus seeds, simmer for one more minute and turn off the heat.
  8. As the mixture cools down, the makhana will absorb the water and the curry thickens.
  9. Before eating, reheat the curry, top with coriander leaves and have with rice or roti.

2. Atta gond makhana laddoo

You will need:

  • ½ cup makhana (fried and blended)
  • 1/4 cup edible gum, Gond (fried and blended)
  • 2 cups wheat flour
  • ½ cup sugar powder
  • 1 cup ghee
  • 2tbsp almonds
  • 2tbsp cashew nuts
  • ½ cup jaggery
  • 1tbsp pista

How to make:

  1. In a pan, add ghee, wheat flour and roast over a low flame until it turns brown.
  2. Turn off the flame, and add sugar powder, almonds, cashew nuts, edible gum, jaggery, and blended makhana.
  3. Take small portions of the mix, and roll into balls.
  4. Top the laddoos with pista, and enjoy while they’re still fresh.

3. Makhana kheer

You will need:

  • 3 cups makhana
  • 6 cups milk
  • 5 almonds (chopped)
  • 8-10 raisins
  • 1/2 cup grated coconut
  • 1/2tsp cardamom powder
  • ½ tin sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/2tsp pure ghee

How to make:

  1. Fry the lotus seeds in ghee and crush them.
  2. In a pan, add crushed makhana, milk and cook on slow flame for five to ten minutes.
  3. Add grated coconut and continue cooking for some more time while stirring frequently.
  4. As it gets thick, add sweetened condensed milk and cook for five more minutes until you reach the consistency of your likeliness.
  5. Add cardamom powder, top with almonds and raisins.
  6. You can have it hot or cold.

Will Makhana Help In Recovery After Miscarriage?

Lotus seeds will tone the spleen and kidneys, building up the energy or Qi and blood that helps in stopping the bleeding associated with miscarriage. If you have a history of miscarriage, you might consider taking makhana as they help restore energy within the body (7).

Makhana makes a great snack when you take in limited quantities. The seeds are helpful in maintaining overall health and well-being. Do consult your physician to consume makhana in the right portions and at proper intervals when you are expecting. A physician’s guidance will help you avoid the side-effects of eating makhana.

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