Is paan harmful? Paan health effects
Many paan consumers wonder: is paan harmful? In fact, the information on paan health effects is still confusing. In this article we will talk about the risks associated with long term frequent use of paan, as well as the health benefits of the betel leaf.
We will answer the following questions: is paan bad for health? Is paan safe in pregnancy? Is paan a drug? Is paan carcinogenic?
Read carefully to discover paan health benefits, and paan health risks.
What is paan
Paan is a mouth freshener made of 3 ingredients: areca nut or supari (fruit of the areca catechu palm), betel leaf (leaf of the betel plant), and lime powder (calcium hydroxide) made from powdered limestone or seashell. A red-brownish paste called kaththa, as well as a number of flavourful spices, seeds or even tobacco, can be added.
History of paan in India
Paan has been chewed all over Asia for thousands of years. In the Ramayana, there is a mention of Lord Ram chewing paan. Nowadays paan is normally consumed after festive occasions to refresh the mouth and digest, while some chew paan everyday because of its stimulant effects. More that 500 million people chew paan worldwide, making it the 4th psychoactive substance by consumption.
Now let’s discover: is paan good for health, is paan harmful? Is paan safe in pregnancy? Are betel leaves good for health?
Is paan harmful?
If you are wondering: is paan good for health? Or is paan bad for health? You are right to wonder, because paan carries serious health risks.
First of all, is paan a drug? Yes, paan can be considered a drug, similarly to coffee, because it is a psychoactive substance.
Paan health benefits:
paan, like mukhwas, is a digestion aid
paan freshens the breath
That’s all on paan health benefits because the rest of the benefits are actually health benefits of the betel leaf, taken without areca nut or tobacco.
Benefits of betel leaves:
Reduce sugar levels in blood, with positive effects on diabetes
Betel leaves can help lose weight
Positive effect on the cardiovascular system
Scientists are studying possible chemopreventive benefits of the betel leaves, but results are not unanimous. Betel leaves consumers produce more ascorbic acid (vitamin C) in the saliva, which protects against cavities and possibly oral cancers. So, is betel leaf carcinogenic? We still don’t know for sure, some think it can actually prevent cancers, but it is carcinogenic if consumed with the areca nut, which is central to the question: is paan good for health?
Benefits of betel leaf in Ayurveda:
Good for mental health: tonic for the nervous system.
Eating betel leaves relives cough
Betel leaves are analgesic. This benefit refers to external application of the betel leaf, for example applied to sore teeth. Used in the same way, betel leaves help cure bronchitis, heal wounds, and skin inflammation.
Betel leaves’ stalks can be used to stimulate the rectum in case of children’s constipation.
They are helpful in case of indigestion.
In light of the benefits of the betel leaf, the legitimate question is: are betel leaves good for health? First of all, we should look at their quality. According to the EU, some betel leaves can carry salmonella. Only fresh and correctly stored betel leaves can have health benefits. For how to store betel leaves, read below.
To answer the question: is paan harmful? we also have to mention the
health risks of chewing paan:
The areca nut or supari is harmful to teeth and mouth, and is considered carcinogenic by the WHO. Chewing areca nuts, regardless of tobacco content, is linked to different types of cancer. Nowadays, you can find or make paan that does not contain the areca nut.
Paan can create halitosis in the long run. If you consume paan to get rid of bad breath, take a look at our healthy remedies against bad breath.
Paan can damage and discolour teeth.
If tobacco is added, it is obviously more harming to teeth, mouth, and more cancer inducing.
Paan is psychoactive: chewing 1 paan equals the stimulating effect of drinking 6 coffees.
The conclusion on the harmfulness of paan is that yes, chewing paan is harmful, but most of the risks are associated with the consumption of the areca nut and tobacco. Of course, paan, like many other unhealthy foods, can be consumed on special occasions, but frequent, prolonged use should be avoided. Betel leaves, chuna and kaththa paste can have health benefits, if they are fresh and correctly stored. Let’s see how to store betel leaves.
How to store betel leaves:
Betel leaves are best consumed fresh and green. You can keep them fresh for a few hours by covering them with a moisture cloth.
You could also store them in the fridge. How to store betel leaves in the fridge? Wrap them in newspaper and keep them dry. Place in the fridge for no more that 2 or 3 days.
How to store betel leaves for longer: store them completely covered in ghee in an airtight container in the fridge. Never store betel leaves for longer that 7 days, as they will spoil and carry bacteria.
Can you freeze betel leaves? Yes you can. How to freeze betel leaves? Wash and dry them completely, then cover each one in paper towel and place in a plastic bag in the freezer. They last about 3 months.
Is paan safe in pregnancy?
Women wonder whether consuming paan is safe in pregnancy because Asian grandmothers claim paan can help with digestion and appetite.
If you heard about the benefits of the betel leaf in pregnancy, you should know that despite the benefits we listed in the section “is paan harmful”, there is no scientific consensus. To be on the safe side, it is better not to consume betel leaves during pregnancy.
Is betel nut harmful during pregnancy? When it comes to “is paan is safe in pregnancy”, we must be clear that if paan contains areca nut and/or tobacco, it is not safe in pregnancy. Remember, it increases the risk of cancer. Moreover, in some areas of Bangladesh, paan consumption by pregnant women has been linked to folate deficiency, which can cause birth defects.
So, is paan safe in pregnancy? No! Is the definite answer.
Today we have answered the question: is paan harmful? And we concluded that paan is harmful if taken frequently, but most of the health hazards are posed by the areca nut and tobacco. That is why we created an article about how to make healthy paan, without areca nut.
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