Why should you chew paan or betel leaf
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It’s outdated and uncool. If you are a millennial, you may have got this perception for paan. Well, to be honest, we can’t blame you, especially after seeing the marks left behind by the paan addicts on all possible corner walls of public spaces in India. It’s hard to get impressed by such filthy sights. 

But no matter how much you hate it, paan or betel leaf has always been an integral part of culture, tradition, and auspicious occasions. Now it is interesting that science has also proved the health benefits of paan in many ways. So, here are the 6 paan leaves benefits you can’t ignore.

Paan leaves benefits 3

Paan/ Betel leaves: Nutrition & Health Benefits

Paan leaves nutrition :

Paan leaves are very nutritious. It is loaded with micronutrients. table 1 will give you a detailed view –

Table 1: Nutrition of paan leaves (per 100 g of edible portion)

Energy44 Kcal
Dietary fibre2.3 g
Protein3.1 g
Carotene5760 ug
Calcium230 mg
Iron10.6 mg
Phosphorous40 mg
Magnesium447 mg
Manganese4.47 mg
Zinc3.44 mg

Source: Nutritive value of Indian food, C.Gopalan, NIN, 2016

Paan leaves benefit 1. Rich in micronutrients

Paan or betel leaf is rich in a micronutrient, especially in vitamin A, magnesium, copper, manganese, and zinc. It is also a good source of vitamin A, C, B3, calcium, phosphorus, and iron. All these minerals and vitamins play a crucial role to boost our metabolism. For example, magnesium acts as a co-factor (you can say helper) for more than 300 metabolic reactions in our body for producing energy, protein synthesis, fat break down, controlling blood sugar level, etc.

Paan leaves benefit 2. Clean the oral cavity

Saliva produced by chewing paan helps to clean the oral cavity and prevent tooth decay.

Paan leaves benefit 3. Aids better digestion

Chewing paan is extremely beneficial for better digestion. Paan has anti-flatulent and gastro-protective properties which prevent the chance of acidity, gas, bloating, flatulence and constipation. Also slaked lime helps indigestion. So next time instead of popping antacids or digestive enzymes for chronic digestion-related issues, try chewing a dark green simple paan. (1)

Paan leaves benefit 4. Rich in antioxidant

Paan is rich in polyphenols which act as an antioxidant as well as an antiseptic. These polyphenols kill free radicals and reduce oxidative stress in the body. (2)

Paan leaves benefit 5. Antihyperglycemic effect

Catechu extract (khoyer) used in paan has antihyperglycemic and antinociceptive activity that helps to control blood sugar levels as well as reduce pain. (3)

Paan leaves benefit 6. Antimicrobial properties

Cardamom and clove act as a potent antioxidant and has antimicrobial properties. Cardamom is anti-inflammatory and diuretic, thus helps to lower blood pressure. Compounds present in the clove helps to keep blood sugar in check. (4, 5)

Paan leaves benefits 1

What does it take to make a good paan?

We are very creative. You must have heard of mitha paan or saada paan or even bangla paan. But have you heard of fire paan, chocolate paan, gold paan , silver paan or rasmalai paan? Interesting right?

But when we think of the goodness or benefits of paan, one has to rely on the good old traditional paan recipe.

All you need to make a good paan are –

  •  a bright green betel leaf – either country leaf( Bangla pata) or sweet leaf (meetha pata)
  • a little bit of slaked lime water (chuna)
  • 2-3 small pieces areca nut (suparee)
  • a dash of catechu extract (khoyer/ katha/kaath)- Optional
  • one cardamom (elaichi)
  • 2 cloves (laung)
  • fennel seed (saunf)
  • half teaspoon of gulkand

This combination can create wonder. If you are struggling with – constipation, flatulence, acidity, indigestion, diabetes, and sweet craving after a meal you must try taking paan after lunch or dinner.  You can’t ignore the paan benefits.

Why should you chew paan or betel leaf 3

How about some soft drink after heave meal for better digestion?

Many of us believe, drinking a glass of soft drink (coke/ thumbs up/ sprite) after a heavy meal helps to digest the food. Yes, it may feel good initially but in the long run, you create more harm than good by doing this. Why?

Soft drinks are loaded with sugar and calorie. So if you have already overeaten, your body is trying hard to maintain the sugar balance, dumping another glass of saturated sugar soda water makes the situation worse. It’s needless to say that excessive sugar promotes unnecessary weight gain, creates acidity and flatulence by disturbing your gut ecology.

Table 2: Comparison of calorie and sugar content of items popular as post meal items

Items Approximate Sugar Content Approximate Calorie Content
Coca Cola/ Thums up (250 ml) 5 tsp 100 Kcal
Sprite (250 ml) 5 tsp 100 Kcal
Fanta (250 ml) 6 tsp 120 Kcal
Red Bull (250 ml) 6 tsp 120 Kcal
Paan -1 (as per ingredient mentionned above) ½ -1 tsp (as a part of gulkand) 20 Kcal

Chewing paan after a meal helps to control your sweet craving. Therefore instead of having a gulab jamun (approx 150 kcal) or a piece of chocolate truffle (approx 500 kcal), chewing a paan (approx 20 kcal) is any day a smart choice.

Paan leaves benefits

Bottom Line –

Again going back to the thumb rule of nutrition- moderation. So don’t get overexcited and start chewing five paan a day loaded with tobacco, betel nuts, and colorful paan masala. Remember, all such attractive ingredients are filled with processed sugar and artificial colors. We must keep the paan simple as mentioned above to ensure the health benefits. One simple paan after lunch or dinner should be fine for availing its maximum benefit. Don’t keep any doubt, start looking for the age-old paan dabba. 

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Dr. Soma Chakrabarty is based in Hyderabad. She has 15 yrs of working experience in nutrition. She guides people to modify eating behavior and achieve goals for wellness. She believes in a practical diet that helps people to live rather than survive.

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  • Manish Raikar , 18th September 2019 @ 2:09 pm

    Thanks for sharing very useful especially for me who crave for sweet after a meal…

  • Suprakas Chandra Maulik , 19th September 2019 @ 7:40 pm

    Very informative and useful article. Thanks a lot. I have got a query. Can the diabetic patients use gulkand in paan? I will appreciate a reply. Regards.

    • Dr. Soma Chakrabarty , 19th September 2019 @ 7:47 pm

      Thanks for liking it. Keep reading our articles and feel free to share the link. For diabetic patients food allowance depends on the total sugar intake in a day. If one can manage to control overall sugar intake, half tsp of gulkand 2 to 3times a week is fine. Otherwise it’s better to avoid.

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