6 Powerful Benefits of Betel Nuts

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated -

There are many great benefits of betel nuts if you can regularly add these tasty, nutrient-dense snacks to your diet.

What are Betel Nuts?

Also known as areca nutz, paan, paan-gutkha pinlang, pinang, or supari, betel nuts are the fruit of the areca palm tree. It is scientifically known as Areca catechu and is native to India, Asia, the Philippines and parts of Africa. It has been used recreationally and medicinally since the 1st century AD. [1] [2]

Betel nuts are traditionally wrapped in leaves with a limestone paste and chewed, much like tobacco and these nuts are also used in a similar manner as caffeine. They have a sweet and spicy taste. The nut is a mild stimulant, which causes a sense of alertness, and is used in Ayurvedic and traditional Chinese medicine.

Benefits of Betel Nuts

The top benefits of betel nut include its impact on alertness, energy levels, euphoria, salivation, and stamina.

A number of betel nuts on a table

Betel nuts have been an integral part of traditional medicines in India. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Boost Appetite

Chewing betel nut is used to stimulate appetite and increase saliva flow for digestion.

Increase Energy Levels

Betel nut is used as a stimulant for increasing alertness and stamina and giving the user a sense of well-being and euphoria. It has also been used as a stimulant for libido and to alleviate symptoms of excessive heat.

Eye Care

Betel nut is known for treating eye disorders like glaucoma.

Detoxify the Body

In traditional medicines, betel nut was often used as a detoxifier, and a treatment to remove parasites and kill worms. It has the ability to stimulate gastrointestinal activity, helping with flatulence or constipation. Betel nuts are also traditionally used to prevent bad breath and phlegm. They are often chewed before traveling to help prevent nausea.

Oral Health

These nuts are particularly useful for dry mouth sufferers, whether from disease or medication. Betel nuts have antibacterial qualities, which have led the extracts to be used as an ingredient in oral healthcare products. It is thought to help keep gums and teeth strong, and prevent cavities.

Balancing the Blood

Betel nuts are used in folk medicine for treating symptoms of anemia as they help boost iron levels. The tannins in betel nuts can also lower high blood pressure. [3]

How to Use Betel Nuts?

Betel nut can be used dried or fresh. You can also boil, bake or roast them to snack on.

Betel Nut Dosage

The dosage of betel nut depends on person to person so always make sure to consult with your physician before including it in your diet.

Side Effects

It is important to note that many researchers feel that the toxic effects of betel nuts outweigh their possible health benefits. Apart from stained teeth, other common side effects include diarrhea, vomiting, and shortness of breath. However, if consumed in large quantities, betel nuts can cause negative effects like: [4]

  • Asthma: Betel nut can worsen the condition.
  • Addiction: Betel nut, taken with tobacco, can lead to addiction.
  • Metabolic syndrome: Excess consumption of betel nut can increase your chances of suffering from the metabolic syndrome.
  • Diabetes: Betel nut can aggravate pre-existing diabetes. [5]
  • Seizures: These nuts can also increase the risk of seizures.
  • Urinary tract obstruction: Betel nut can give rise to some secretions in the urinary tract which can worsen the blockage.
  • Oral and dental health: It may cause increased dental sensitivity and saliva production in regular users.
  • Pregnant and breastfeeding women: Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should not use betel nuts in any form, as it may result in miscarriage or deformation of the fetus and in some cases, even low birth weight in infants. [6]
  • Interaction with medications: Betel nuts may interact with dry medications.
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About the Author

John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, publisher and photographer with English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana (USA). He co-founded the literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and now serves as the Content Director for Stain’d Arts, a non-profit based in Denver, Colorado. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.

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