Anonymous asked in Food & DrinkEthnic Cuisine · 1 decade ago

What is a bettlenut?

I have heard of a food called a bettlenut that is offten eaten in Papua New Guinea and in the Solomon Islands apparently it can cause cancer.

6 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
    Favourite answer

    Betel nut is the seed from the Betel palm.. In India, its eaten as Paan..the nuts are wrapped up in a betel leaf, seasoned with lime juice, spices, other seeds and some masala paste and chewed. You can find the paan stains everywhere.. Its this nasty red color. Its usually had after a meal, though not necessarily..Its often used for digestion..but its also a mild stimulant narcotic. I have also heard of excess paan chewing causing mouth/lip cancers. Personally.. I think it tastes nasty :P

  • 1 decade ago

    Um, the Betel Nut?:

    Betel nut, also known as Pinang or Areca nut, is the seed of the Betel Palm (Areca catechu). Betel nuts are often chewed for their helpful effects, which are caused by the relatively high levels of alkaloids in the seed. Chewing betel nuts is an important and popular cultural activity in many Asian countries. It is also used as an offering in Hinduism.

  • 1 decade ago

    Betel nut is sold in India, Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands. It makes ur teeth red but it is popular in India.

  • Anonymous
    5 years ago

    Yes, on Union St. It's a very trendy restaurant and the food is delicious. The prices are somewhat expensive, but the experience is worth it.

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  • Val K
    Lv 4
    1 decade ago

    don't know about the cancer but it is a nut that the natives chew, it is red and turns their mouth and gums red. It is addictive like any drug we know, don't touch it and don't even think about it, it is blamed for most of the atrocities that have happened in the countries you have mentioned which involve natives killing whites

    Source(s): I have seen some of these atrocities and believe me they are not pleasant
  • 1 decade ago

    Betel nut, also known as Pinang or Areca nut, is the seed of the Betel Palm (Areca catechu). Betel nuts are often chewed for their helpful effects, which are caused by the relatively high levels of alkaloids in the seed. Chewing betel nuts is an important and popular cultural activity in many Asian countries. It is also used as an offering in Hinduism.

    Modern day consumption:

    In India (the largest consumer of betel nut), the betel nut is cut into small pieces using a special instrument called sarota, and the husk is wrapped in a betel leaf along with lime and may include clove, cardamom, catechu (kattha), etc. for extra flavouring. Betel leaf has a fresh, peppery taste, but, depending on the variety of areca from which it comes, it can be very bitter. Seasoned chewers might mix the betel nut with tobacco. This preparation of betel nut is commonly referred as paan in India and Pakistan, and is available everywhere.

    Betel nut is also available in ready-to-eat pouches called Pan Masala. It is a mixture of many spices whose primary base is betel nut crushed into very small pieces. Sometimes Pan Masala also includes a small quantity of tobacco, in this case, the product is called gutka.

    Betel leaf is a different species of plant to the betel nut, and not in the areca family, but the Piper family (same as pepper and Kava).


    Betel chewing is a tradition which dates back thousands of years. The bitter poultice is an acquired taste, and, although it is not clear why the people of the Pacific originally began to chew betelnut, the habit has been passed down through the generations and now provides a cultural link to their past.

    The betel and betel juice play an important role in many countries including Myanmar, the Solomon Islands and the Culture of Vietnam. The betel leaves and areca juices are used ceremonially in Vietnamese weddings. Betel leaves and areca juices starts the talk between the groom's parents and the bride's parent about the young couple's marriage. The betel and areca are such important symbols of love and marriage such that in Vietnamese the phrase "matters of betel and areca" (chuyện trầu cau) is synonymous with marriage. There is a folk tale explaining the origin of this Vietnamese tradition.

    In north east India Betel leaves (pan) with a bit of lime and raw betel nut (called Tamul in Assamese, Sopari In Gujarati LanguageKwai in Khasi) is consumed by majority of the people. In Assam it is a tradition to offer Pan-tamul (Betel leaves and raw betel nut) to guests after tea or meals in a brass plate with stand called Bota. In Assam betel nuts also have variety of uses during religious and marriage ceremonies, where it takes on fertility symbolisms. It is also a tradition, especially in Upper Assam to invite guests to wedding receptions by offering a few betel nuts with leaves. During Bihu, the husori players are offered betel nuts and leaves by each household and their blessings are solicited.

    The city Guwahati (guwa betel nut; haat market-place in Assamese) in Assam is named after this nut.

    Betel chewing:

    Betel chewing is a part of many Asian and Pacific cultures and is often chewed at ceremonies and gatherings, and preparation techniques vary from region to region. The nut is either slivered or grated, often flavoured with spices according to local tradition, and usually wrapped in a betel leaf (note that betel leaf comes from the betel pepper plant Piper betle, which is not botanically related to the Betel Palm), along with some lime (calcium oxide or calcium hydroxide) to better extract the alkaloids. Some people also chew tobacco with betel nut. After about 20 minutes of chewing, the fibrous residue which remains of the nut is spat on the street, where it remains visible due to its characteristic bright red pigment. Trails of bright red sputum lining the sidewalks are a sure indication of the popularity of betel chewing in an area. In Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands, fresh betel nut is sold on street corners, is chewed with a fresh leaf or 'fruit leaf' (daka in PNG) and mixed with lime. In these countries, dried or flavoured betel nut is not popular. Betel nut chewing has recently been introduced into Vanuatu where it is growing in popularity, especially in the northern islands of the country. In Guam, Betel nut (called Pugua'in the native Chamorro language) is a social past time as a means to extend friendship, and can be found in many, if not most large gatherings as part of the food display.

    Other uses:

    Powdered betel nut is used as a constituent in some tooth powders. Other medicinal uses include the removal of tapeworms and other intestinal parasites by swallowing a few teaspoons of powdered betel nut, or by taking tablets containing the extracted alkaloids.


    In South Asia, betel nuts are often chewed as an ingredient in a snack called Paan. Also popular in India is a concoction of ground (or thin sliced) betel nuts (supari), tobacco and flavourings known as gutka. The Shimoga District in Karnataka is the largest producer of betelnut in India.

    In Taiwan, betel nut shops usually have a large picture window behind which a provocatively dressed young woman can be seen wrapping betel nuts (see betel nut beauty). Shops are often identified by several green fluorescent tubes arranged in a radial pattern.

    In the United States, betel nut is not a controlled or specially taxed substance and may be found in some Asian grocery stores. However, importation of betel in a form other than whole or carved kernals of nuts can be stopped at the discretion of US Customs officers on the grounds of food, agricultural, or medicinal drug violations. Such actions by Customs are very rare.

    Active compounds:

    The active chemical compounds of betel nut are arecaine and arecoline, alkaloids which are comparable to nicotine in its stimulating, mildly intoxicating and appetite-suppressing effects on the mind. It also contains the alkaloids arecaidine, arecolidine, guracine (guacine), guvacoline and a number of others that have not yet been studied extensively.

    Effects on health:


    The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) regards betel nut to be a known human carcinogen. In countries and communities where betel is consumed extensively, there are vastly higher levels of oral cancer , and in Asian countries where it is consumed, oral cancer forms up to 50% of malignant cancers. Betel nut chewers in Taiwan were found to have a twenty-eight times higher risk of acquiring oral cancer. In addition, the mixing with chewing tobacco provides the same dangerous properties as normal chewing tobacco. Although a substantial proportion of the cancers are caused by the tobacco rather than the betel nut and leaves in the quid, according to WHO, betel chewing without tobacco also leads to cancer of the mouth. A British study reported in 2004 has tried to establish that there is a genetic aspect to this. Betel-nut chewers with faulty gene have higher risk of mouth cancer .


    Regular betel chewing causes the teeth and gums to be stained red. It is believed to reduce the incidence of cavities, and toothpastes were once produced containing betel extracts. However, the increase in mouth ulcers and gum deterioration (leading to total loss of teeth) caused by betel chewing outweigh any positive effects.


    Betel chewing is addictive, and some practitioners consume vast quantities. There is some alarming news released from the BHP (Bureau of Health Promotion) which shows that the habit of betel nut chewing is entering younger age groups and spreading across different professions.

    The government of Pakistan has ruled that packets of betel nut must carry health warnings similar to those on cigarette packs, reports Asiaweek magazine. The magazine notes that millions of people in southern Asia are addicted to pan masala, a mixture of betel nut and various oils and other ingredients wrapped in a betel leaf. This is meant to be chewed. India had already placed warnings on packets of betel nut because of a reported link with cancer of the mouth. Children have also been known to choke to death on betel nut. Pakistan’s new laws will forbid the selling of betel nut to children under five years of age.Awake!Magazine 12/8/94 At one stage during the early 2000 period betel nut was being offered in nightclubs in S.E Australia at an alarming rate. Prices ranged from $1-2 per nut. Its street name known as hurry.

    Other harmful effects:

    According to Medline Plus, "Long-term use has been associated with oral submucous fibrosis (OSF), pre-cancerous oral lesions and squamous cell carcinoma. Acute effects of betel chewing include asthma exacerbation, hypotension, and tachycardia. There may be a higher risk of cancers of the liver, mouth, esophagus, stomach, prostate, cervix, and lung with regular betel use. Other effects can include a possible effect on blood sugar levels, possibly increasing the risk of type 2 diabetes.

    When done regularly, betel chewing is considered likely to have harmful effects on health including cancers of the stomach and mouth and damage to gums. Whether this is due to, or exacerbated by, lime being used in betel preparations and the addition of tobacco (in the case of gutka) or other impurities is open to question. It is well known in betel consuming countries that various items, such as opiates and tobacco, can be added to betel preparations to increase the addictive properties, and thus to bolster sales.

    Very few studies exist of the use of a "pure" paan preparation: betel nut, betel leaf, and lime, and fewer studies exist of betel nut alone.

    Medical literature at this stage (even though highly anecdotal) seems to indicate that regular, addiction-driven use (for example, eight pinches a day) of betel nut in the preparations popular in India, Pakistan, New Guinea, and Taiwan can be harmful. Regarding the preparation methods used in Vietnam and Guam, and regarding occasional usage, there seems to be no strong indication one way or another.

    Positive effects:

    MedlinePlus indicates "poor-quality research" showing a possible beneficial effect for sufferers of anaemia during pregnancy. However, it counsels against betel nut chewing due a possible risk of spontaneous abortions. It also indicates "poor-quality studies" showing a possible beneficial effect on schizophrenia and for stroke recovery.


    According to the botanical classification, the betelnut tree belongs to the same family as oil palm and talipot palm, the Arecaceae, but their outer appearances are quite different.

    Source(s): wiki
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