Carbs in Water Chestnuts

Carbs, Calories, and Nutritional Information for Water Chestnuts

water chestnuts
Raw Fresh Water Chestnuts. FotoosVanRobin/Getty Images

You may be surprised to find out that the water chestnut is not a nut (or even related to nuts), but rather a starchy root vegetable. Water chestnut plants are grown in marshy or wetland areas and can be eaten raw or cooked. They are best knows as a popular ingredient in Chinese cooking. Their flavor is mild and slightly sweet.

Perhaps the biggest selling point of water chestnuts is that they remain crunchy when cooked or canned, so they can add a nice texture to dishes.

Although they are starchy, they are small, so a little chopped up in a stir-fry or salad can be a nice addition.

Want a lower-carb substitute for water chestnuts?  Try jicama, which is also mild and crunchy, although it doesn't maintain its crunch on long cooking.

Carbohydrate and Fiber Counts for Water Chestnuts

Note: I do not know why the counts for raw and canned water chestnuts are different -- it could be that the raw ones have less water, or it could be that some varieties of water chestnut are canned while others are more commonly eaten raw. The information below is from the USDA database.

  • ½ cup raw water chestnut slices: 13 grams effective (net) carbohydrate plus 2 grams fiber and 60 calories
  • 4 medium raw water chestnuts (about 1½ oz): 8 grams effective (net) carbohydrate plus 1 gram fiber and 35 calories
  • ½ cup canned sliced water chestnut: 7 grams effective (net) carbohydrate plus 2 grams fiber and 35 calories
  • 4 medium canned water chestnuts (about an ounce): 2 grams effective (net) carbohydrate plus 1 gram fiber and 14 calories

Compare the Carb Counts of Root Vegetables

Glycemic Index for Water Chestnuts

No studies of the glycemic index of water chestnuts have been reported in the scientific literature, and therefore the glycemic load cannot be calculated either.

More Information About the Glycemic Index

Health Benefits of Water Chestnuts

Water chestnuts are a fairly good source of potassium, manganese, calcium, copper, and vitamin B6.

Water Chestnut Selection and Storage

Note: Canned water chestnuts, which are obviously more commonly available, should be rinsed to removed the "canned" flavor.

When selecting fresh raw water chestnuts, choose ones without soft spots, and which have smooth, unwrinkled skin.  Store them in the refrigerator in a plastic bag, where they may keep up to two weeks, depending on how fresh they are.

Before eating, raw water chestnuts need to be peeled, and the top sliced off.

More Carb Profiles:


Leroux, MarcusFoster-Powell, Kaye, Holt, Susanna and Brand-Miller, Janette. "International table of glycemic index and glycemic load values: 2002." American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Vol. 76, No. 1, 5-56.

USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 28. .

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