Fox Nuts – Benefits in Day-to-day Life

Fox nuts, or scientifically named as Euryale ferox is a species of water lily found locally in the Southern and Eastern Asia. It is the only extant member of the genus Euryale. The edible seeds called fox nuts is consumed when dried. It is a perennial plant found in the Indian States of Bihar, Assam, West Bengal, Manipur, Tripura, Jammu & Kashmir, Eastern Odisha, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh. However, its business cultivation is proscribed to North Bihar, Manipur, and some parts of West Bengal and Madhya Pradesh. Bihar produces 90% of the world’s fox nuts. Over 96,000 hectares of Bihar, India, were put aside for the cultivation of Euryale in 1990-1991. Fox nuts grow in water, and produces bright purple flowers. The leaves are large and round in shape, about 3 feet in across with a leaf stalk attached in the centre of the lower surface. The leaves have a quilted texture, while the stems, flowers and leaves which float on the surface are covered in sharp prickles. In India, the plant species grows in ponds and wetlands. The plant grows best in locations with hot, dry summers and cold winters. Seeds are collected within the late summer and early season, and should be consumed raw or cooked. Edible parts of the seeds contain 12.8% moisture, 9.7% protein, 0.1% fats, 0.5% minerals, 76.9% carbohydrates, 1.4 mg/100g of iron and traces of carotene. The calorific content of raw and popped seeds of Makhana is 362 and 328 K Cal/100g, respectively. Due to the presence of so much nutrients, it is used in the preparation of a number of delicious and rich sweet dishes. The popped Makhana are roasted with a small amount desi ghee and some salt and spices are added to it. The snacks are served with tea/coffee. The whole plant part has tonic, astringent and de-obstruent properties. The seed is analgesic, aphrodisiac. It is consumed for the treatment of chronic diarrhoea, nocturnal emissions and kidney weakness associated with frequent urination. It is an important herbal concoction used for impotence. The leaves are effectual against rheumatism which may be allocated to the presence of an alkaloid “drummine” and mixture of leaves was found to be effective against difficult parturition. The starch of Makhana seeds is used for coating in the quality fabrics like Banarasi sarees and high-quality cotton dresses. Fox nuts is widely used in religious purpose in all the worshiping ceremonies, Hawan, Pooja etc. Being the non-cereal food, Makhana is an ideal staple food of devotees during their religious fast. Makhana bran, a by-product of Makhana, constitutes about 89.2% dry matter, 7.1% protein, 0.62% fat and 94.4% organic matter. It can supplement the requirement of concentrate feed by 6% in poultry feed. In case of goat and dairy cattle, Makhana bran can replace requirement of concentrate up to 40%. Feeding of Makhana bran to birds/livestock also resulted into higher growth rate, comparatively high milk yield and nutrients digestibility.  
By Dr Sushma Dubey HoD Biotechnology Kalinga University

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