We love those bright orange, cheese-powder-coated puffed-corn snacks as much as the next person, but let’s face it—they’re not exactly the healthiest choice to satisfy those salty food cravings.
That’s why we’re so intrigued by puffed water lily seeds, which can pack the same yummy, cheesy crunch in a much less processed package.
Here’s everything you need to know about this new snack trend.
What are water lily seeds?
You may not have heard of water lily seeds before, but they’re about to take over the snack aisle at your grocery store.
Also known as makhana, puffed water lily seeds come from the Euryale ferox plant, a type of water lily.
Found in ponds throughout Asia, these seeds begin as pea-sized kernels that are harvested and “popped.”
The result: a crunchy snack that packs a crunch that rivals Cheetos, popcorn and potato chips.
Plain water lily seeds have a mild, earthy flavor – but they can be ripe for a savory, spicy or cheesy snack.
Are Water Lily Seed Snacks Really Healthy?
Puffed water lily has a high amino acid index and low glycemic index.
They’re a paleo-friendly snack, and there are plenty of vegan and gluten-free options available (although this varies, so you should always double-check the label).
And a one-ounce serving of Bohana Wild White Cheddar water lily seeds — about 60 popped kernels — contains just 120 calories. It also contains three grams of protein and four grams of fat.
“I’m surprised how low-fat they are for being a seed,” says Maleh Staton, RD.
As with any snack, you still need to watch your portions — but at 60 puffed seeds per serving, it can be a little easier to avoid doubling or tripling the recommended serving size with a bag of cheesy puffed corn.
(Cheetos, for example, have about 21 puffs per serving.)
Inflamed water lily seeds are also commonly recommended in Ayurvedic medicine for reproductive health and blood sugar control—but more research is needed to back up these claims.
Where to buy water lily seeds
There are a few brands currently selling puffed water lily seeds in the United States, including Bohana, Tally, Ashpops, and Lily Puffs.
The Bohana line of puffed water lily seeds comes in three different delicious flavors: Pink Himalayan Salt, Soulful Spice and Wild White Cheddar.
If you follow a vegan diet, Lily Puffs and Ashpops both offer a vegan cheese flavor of puffed water lily seeds.
And AshaPops even has a turmeric flavor that combines two healthy trends in one delicious package.