Lotus root isn’t an ingredient that makes an appearance too often in Western cuisine, but it does play a large part in Asian cuisine, especially in Japan. The root is part of a larger aquatic plant, with the flowers of the plant playing a large role in much of Asian culture. Symbolizing purity and beauty, the beautiful flower plays a part in religious practices, while the root is a versatile component in many different Japanese dishes.
Culinary Uses of Lotus Roots
In Asian supermarkets in the United States, you can find fresh lotus root for sale throughout most of the year, and it is also sometimes sold sliced and frozen. The fresh lotus root appears simply as an unremarkable object, long and with a woody texture. It can grow up to four feet in length, but if you were to see it peeled and sliced, it would resemble a common potato. However, the flavor is actually more akin to coconut.
Lotus root can be easily prepared by slicing it into pieces of the desired shape and size. Japanese people often like to present it as thin slices. The unique shape of the lotus root exhibits several holes in the middle, making it appear rather ornamental and adding great visual beauty and appeal to a dish.
After slicing, you can add it to soups, stir-fries, or many other dishes. It can be deep-fried, boiled, braised, pickled, or used as a garnish and flavoring for salads, snacks, and rice. Powdered lotus root is also sold as an herbal medicine.
Health Benefits of Lotus Root
Lotus root is very nutritious and contains many properties that make it an especially healthy ingredient to consume. The large amount of vitamins and minerals it contains include Vitamin B, Vitamin C, iron, potassium, copper, thiamin, and zinc, among others. It is also a good source of protein and dietary fiber.
This vast array of vitamins and minerals are the reason why there are so many health benefits of lotus root. These benefits include:
Improves Body and Immune System Health
With Vitamin C being the most prominent element of nutrition in the lotus root, it goes a long way towards improving and strengthening the immune system. It also serves to neutralize free radicals, resulting in stronger organs, skin, and blood vessels.
Improves Blood Circulation and Regulates Blood Pressure
The combination of copper and iron serves to improve blood circulation in the body. They also serve to reduce the risk of developing symptoms relating to anemia, as well as improve energy.
The potassium in lotus root also serves to help regulate blood pressure. Potassium helps to relax blood vessels, balance the levels of fluids in your body, and improve blood flow.
A large amount of dietary fiber helps to improve the digestive process and reduce constipation. It’s also a low-calorie food that helps you to maintain and lose weight while still getting a large amount of protein and nutrients in your diet.
Helps to Reduce Stress and Improve Heart Health
Vitamin B contains pyridoxine, which helps to improve your mood and relax your mind. It even helps to reduce headaches, and serves to lower stress. It’s another reason the lotus flower is associated with peace and tranquility. Pyridoxine also helps to lessen the risk of a heart attack and improve heart health overall.