Lotus Root: The Herb That Supports the Brain, Gut & Health
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Lotus Root: The Herb That Supports the Brain, Gut & Health

Christine Ruggeri via Dr. Josh Axe — Food is Medicine
Dec 7, 2018

If you haven’t tried cooking with this root yet, you’ll probably want to start once you read about its many health benefits.

You are probably familiar with the image of the sacred lotus that sits beautifully on pond water and symbolizes beauty and rebirth. But how often do you think about the roots of the lotus that stretch deep into the mud? The lotus root is an edible stem that is often used in Asian cuisine.

Like burdock root, lotus rhizomes contain powerful antioxidants that help protect us from disease, and its nutrients boost the health of our digestive and cardiovascular systems. Just like another disease-fighting root called galangal, eating lotus root may help support brain health and reduce inflammation.

The root of the lotus can be used in an array of recipes, from salads to soups and stir fries. When peeled and sliced, it has a slightly nutty flavor and a nice, crunchy bite.

If you haven’t tried cooking with this root yet, you’ll probably want to start once you read about its many health benefits.

What Is Lotus Root?

Lotus root is the long stem of the lotus plant. The lotus plant has the scientific name Nelumbo nucifera and belongs to the Nelumbonaceae family. The root, flower stalks and seeds are commonly used in Chinese and Japanese cuisine.

The tubular lotus root is found buried in swampy, anaerobic (lack of oxygen) sediment. It has oval holes for obtaining oxygen and allowing buoyancy in water. The tubular shape of the root is used for storing energy in the form of starch. On the outside, lotus root is smooth and has a brownish yellow color. Internally, the root is white and has a crisp flesh.

Lotus root grows in strands, similar to the links of sausages, and the stem can grow up to four feet in length. You can find the roots and lotus flowers in muddy ponds and rivers.

This root is commonly sliced and pickled, sautéed or baked. It has a mildly sweet taste that’s been likened to that of water chestnuts with a nutty flavor and a texture similar to potato. Lotus root also has a satisfying crunch when it’s cooked, so it makes for an excellent snack (think lotus root chips) or addition to stir-fries.

The root is also used to make lotus root starch, or it’s dried to make a powder that’s used in Chinese medicine.

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