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Singhara (Water Chestnut): Uses, Benefits, Side Effects By Dr. Smita Barode

By Dr Smita Barode +2 more

Introduction: 

Singhara is one fruit that may not be your favourite, but you still see it in your house on multiple occasions. Along with the arrival of the winter season, this fruit starts to make a place in our houses and hearts! Some people use dried and powdered seeds as flour, while many like to consume them raw. The powder is also used in fasting meals. 

singhara benefits

So, if you are curious about the properties and benefits of eating singhara, you have come to the right place!   

Singhara in English is called water chestnuts and are fruits grown in ponds. Singhara are scientifically known as Trapa natans, belonging to the Lythraceae family. Some common names of this fruit are singhara or simkhata in Hindi, karimbolam or vankottakkaya in Malayalam and water chestnuts in English.1  Singhara is a commonly used fruit in India. In addition, Singhara has been cultivated commercially by countries like India, China, Korea, Japan and North America.2 Singhara has good nutritional value along with many beneficial properties.  

Did you know?

Nutritional Value of Singhara: 

The nutritional value of singhara per 100g of serving is given below.  

Nutritional component  Value  
Protein  1.43g 
Carbohydrates  15.7g  
Fibre  5.7g  
Sugar  2.86g  
Sodium  14mg  
Energy  64kcal  

Table 1: The nutritional value of singhara per 100g of serving3 

Based on my experience, I have observed that water chestnuts contain high levels of flavonoids, flavones, and phenols, which may constitue to their antioxidant properties. These antioxidants play a crucial role in protecting our cells from oxidative damage caused by harmful free radicals. Consuming water chestnuts may contribute to overall health and well-being.

Dr. Siddharth Gupta, MD

Properties of Singhara: 

The many properties of Singhara are given below.  

  • It may show anti-inflammatory property (reduce swelling and inflammation) 
  • It may show anti-microbial property  
  • It may show analgesic property (pain relief) 
  • It may show neuroprotective (protect the nerves) 
  • It may modulate the immunity4 

Potential Uses of Singhara for Overall Health: 

Because of its good nutritional value and properties, Singhara may show potential use against many health conditions. However, more studies and research needed to consolidate the effectiveness of singhara in these conditions. That’s why you must consult your healthcare provider and get a proper diagnosis. Some of the potential uses of singhara are given below. 

1. Potential Uses of Singhara for weight management: 

Involving optimal fibre in your diet can help you manage weight. Foods with high fibre content provide bulk, keeping you full for longer. High fibre is also known to delay the absorption of sugars and foods. All these benefits may contribute to healthy body weight.5 However, if you want to reduce or manage weight, consult with a qualified dietician before making any significant changes to your diet.  

2. Potential Uses of Singhara for digestion:  

A good amount of fibre might help keep the digestive system healthy. Singhara has plenty of fibre that enables you to meet daily requirements. In addition, having plenty of fibre is linked to a reduced risk of diseases like constipation and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).5 It might also help maintain a good bowel movement. However, avoid eating singhara to cure or eliminate any digestive problems. If you have any digestive issues, you need to talk to your healthcare provider and get treated.  

3. Potential Uses of Singhara for diabetes:  

Eating high-fibre might help reduce the absorption of glucose from the stomach. This may help maintain blood glucose levels and help avoid surges in blood glucose. So, adding singhara to your diet might help manage the glucose levels in the blood.5 However, if you have diabetes, you should adhere to the doctor’s advice and avoid using fruits or herbs on your own.  

4. Potential Uses of Singhara for cholesterol:  

A high content of cholesterol in the blood can cause heart problems. This cholesterol can accumulate in the blood vessels and increase the risk of heart attacks. The high fibre content of singhara might help you lower your blood cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart problems.5 However, more studies will be required to support the use of singhara for heart health. Therefore, in case of heart problems, reach out to your healthcare provider.  

5. Potential Uses of Singhara for skin diseases:  

Singhara has plenty of gallic acids. Gallic acid is an effective anti-inflammatory agent, which may help reduce inflammation and swelling. This activity of singhara might help with inflammatory skin diseases. As per a study conducted by Kim et al. (2015), the singhara extract could reduce the skin damage caused by sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS), a popular ingredient in soaps and other products.2 However, more research and studies are required to support the use of singhara for skin problems. Therefore, if you are struggling with skin problems, talk to your skin doctor or dermatologist.  

Though studies show the water chestnut benefits in various conditions, these are insufficient. More studies are needed to establish the true extent of the benefits of herbs on human health.  

Based on my observations, water chestnuts or singhara have shown potential anti-ulcer properties. They may help restore the balance in the stomach by reducing acid-pepsin secretion and promoting mucus secretion, which can contribute to the management of stomach ulcers.

Dr. Rajeev Singh, BAMS

How to Use Singhara: 

Singhara or water chestnut seeds are edible. However, make sure to peel the skin before use.  

  • You can eat the seeds raw. 
  • You can also boil the seeds before eating and then remove the skin. 
  • The seeds of singhara can be dried and ground into a powder. This powder can be used as flour and in other dishes.1 

You must consult a qualified doctor before taking singhara or other herbal supplements. Do not discontinue or replace an ongoing treatment of modern medicine with an ayurvedic/herbal preparation without consulting a qualified doctor.   

I recommend chestnut flour as a suitable option for patients with celiac disease. Chestnut flour is gluten-free, which means it does not contain the proteins that can trigger a reaction in individuals with celiac disease. Additionally, chestnut flour offers other health benefits, such as being a good source of fiber and nutrients, making it a valuable choice for those following a gluten-free diet.

Dr. Smita barode, BAMS

Side Effects of Singhara: 

Because of its high fibre content, overeating water chestnuts might give you stomach problems. A sudden increase in dietary fibre may cause stomach pain and gas. Therefore, stick to moderate amounts and avoid overeating.  

Also, before you use singhara for its effects against any condition, talk to your healthcare provider about the possible side effects associated with its use.  

Precautions to Take with Singhara: 

  • Precaution for pregnant and breastfeeding women 

Pregnant ladies should talk to their doctor or any healthcare provider before taking singhara. If you are breastfeeding, take singhara in moderate amounts. Overeating may lead to health problems.   

  • Precaution for elderly 

Singhara is high in fibre. Therefore, the elderly should avoid overeating and stick to moderate amounts as it can give them stomach problems. 

  • Precaution for children 

Children should eat singhara under the guidance of their parents or grownups. In addition, kids should avoid overeating singhara, as it may cause side effects.  

Before taking singhara for its health benefits, consult with a physician about the possible precautions associated with the use of singhara. It will help you make good choices about your health.  

Interactions with Other Drugs: 

There is a lack of information on the interactions of singhara with other drugs and medicines. Therefore, consult your healthcare provider about possible medicine interactions if you are receiving treatment for any health condition.  

Frequently Asked Questions: 

What are singhara benefits? 

Singhara might be helpful in weight management and digestion. Singhara may also be used against diseases like diabetes and skin and heart problems.2,5 However, more research is required to support the use of singhara for its health benefits. Therefore, if you are suffering from health issues, consult your healthcare provider and receive proper treatment.  

Can I use singhara for weight loss? 

Singhara is a rich source of fibre. Involving sufficient fibre in your diet might help you manage weight by giving a sense of fullness for a longer period. Fibre may also help reduce the absorption of glucose from the intestine.5 All these factors combined may help you lower your food intake and help manage weight. However, talk to a dietician or healthcare provider if you want to lose or manage weight. They will be able to better guide you about each diet’s risks and benefits.  

Can I consume singhara during pregnancy?  

Eat singhara only after consulting with your doctor. Pregnant women should consult their healthcare provider before making any changes to their diet.  

What are singhara side effects?  

Singhara is high in fibre content. Suddenly increasing your fibre content excessively may give you stomach problems like abdominal pain and gas. Therefore, you should eat singhara in moderate amounts.5 Also, before using singhara for its health benefits, talk to your healthcare provider about the possible side effects associated with its use.  

How to consume singhara? 

There are many ways to consume singhara. You can consume them raw (after peeling) or cooked. The powder of singhara seed kernel is often used as a flour substitute in cooking.1 However, if you want to use singhara for its medicinal benefits, make sure you talk to a healthcare provider first before using any herbal remedy.   

References: 

1. Trapa natans Water Chestnut PFAF Plant Database [Internet]. [cited 2022 Oct 7]. Available from: https://pfaf.org/user/plant.aspx?latinname=Trapa+natans 

2. Kim B, Kim JE, Choi BK, Kim HS. Anti-Inflammatory Effects of Water Chestnut Extract on Cytokine Responses via Nuclear Factor-κB-signaling Pathway. Biomol Ther (Seoul) [Internet]. 2015 Jan 1 [cited 2022 Oct 7];23(1):90. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25593649/ 

3. Food Data Central [Internet]. [cited 2022 Oct 7]. Available from: https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/2025077/nutrients 

4. (PDF) Trapa Natans (Water Chestnut): An Overview [Internet]. [cited 2022 Oct 7]. Available from: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/264420038_Trapa_Natans_Water_Chestnut_An_Overview 

5. Dietary fibre – Better Health Channel [Internet]. [cited 2022 Jul 21]. Available from: https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/fibre-in-food 

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