Health Benefits of Taro Root

Taro root is a vegetable used in a variety of cuisines around the world. It has a mild, nutty taste, starchy texture, and nutrition benefits that make it a healthier alternative to other root vegetables like potatoes. Taro root is commonly added to savory dishes or fried as a snack, but it can also add a creaminess and purple color to sweet recipes.

You can find taro root at international grocers like Latin American or Asian markets, though it’s becoming a more common staple in supermarkets that carry specialty produce.  

As one of the world’s oldest cultivated plants, taro sometimes goes by different names including arbi, dasheen, and eddoe. Different varieties can be used interchangeably and bring the same nutritional benefits to your meal. 

Health Benefits

Taro is rich in nutrients that can provide important health benefits. A one-cup serving has a third of your daily recommended intake of manganese, which contributes to good metabolism, bone health, and blood clotting. 

Its high levels of vitamins can also promote healthy vision, skin, circulation, and immune system function.

In addition, taro root offers other health benefits like:

Improved Digestion

Taro root has more than twice as much fiber as potatoes. Dietary fiber improves digestive function and can relieve issues like constipation, diarrhea, stomach ulcers, and acid reflux. 

Because fiber moves slowly through the digestive system, studies show that it also keeps you feeling fuller between meals, aiding in healthy weight management.

Blood Sugar Management

The carbohydrate content in taro root is what’s called a resistant starch. These good carbs have been shown in clinical studies to stabilize blood sugar, which helps with weight management and may reduce the risk of diabetes. These starches are also suitable for low-carb and keto diets

Heart Health

There are high levels of potassium in taro root, a mineral that helps to control high blood pressure by breaking down excess salt. This reduces stress on your cardiovascular system, helping to prevent development of chronic heart problems. 

Lowers Risks Associated with Cancer

Taro root and its edible leaves are packed with antioxidants. Quercetin, which comes from the vegetable’s purple pigment, is a powerful antioxidant that protects your body from free radicals. Free radicals are molecules that build in your body due to aging and lifestyle and cause cell damage that scientists believe can lead to cancer.

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Nutrition

Taro root is an excellent source of dietary fiber and good carbohydrates, which both improve the function of your digestive system and can contribute to healthy weight loss.

Its high levels of vitamin C, vitamin B6, and vitamin E also help to maintain a healthy immune system and may eliminate free radicals.

Taro root also contains high levels of:

Nutrients per Serving

One cup of taro root has:

Portion Sizes

Taro root is low in calories and, while it’s high in carbohydrates, these are the good resistant starches that promote a healthy gut

Serving sizes of one-half to one cup of taro root will add significant nutritional value to any meal. 

How to Use Taro Root

Taro root should never be consumed raw. The vegetable contains a bitter-tasting compound called calcium oxalate. This can cause an itchy mouth and throat if consumed raw but is safe to eat when cooked. 

Choose a taro root based on what you want to use it for. Larger varieties have a stronger flavor while smaller roots add more moisture. A ready-to-eat root is firm, unblemished, and feels heavy for its size. 

To prepare taro root, use a knife to remove it's thick peel under running water. This helps to avoid the stickiness from its starch content. Wear gloves to protect your hands against irritation caused by the uncooked calcium oxalate. 

Taro root is very versatile. You can boil, roast, stir-fry, braise, fry, or bake it to prepare it for a variety of recipes. Taro root leaves can also be cooked and used like spinach to add even more vitamins and antioxidants to your meal. 

Here are some great ways to add this superfood starch to your diet:

  • Make taro root fries
  • Grate it to boost the nutrition of pancakes or crepes
  • Add taro root powder to milk for a sweet tea
  • Thinly slice the root and bake your own taro chips
  • Try poi, a traditional Hawaiian version of mashed potatoes that’s sweet and sticky
  • Use taro flour to create purple baked goods
  • Serve it roasted with meats like pork ribs to soak up the excess fat
WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on September 18, 2020

Sources

SOURCES:

Bioactive Foods in Promoting Health: “Taro.”

Contemporary Clinical Trials: “Role of resistant starch on diabetes risk factors in people with prediabetes: Design, conduct, and baseline results of the STARCH trial.”

Journal of Cellular Biochemistry: “Effects of low dose quercetin: Cancer cell-specific inhibition of cell cycle progression.”

Journal of Medicinal Plants Medicine: “Taro: An Overview.”

Mayo Clinic: “Add antioxidants to your diet.”

Organic Consumers Association: “Benefits of Taro.”

The American Heart Association: “How Potassium Can Help Control High Blood Pressure.”

The Journal of Nutrition: “Fiber Intake Predicts Weight Loss and Dietary Adherence in Adults Consuming Calorie-Restricted Diets: The POUNDS Lost (Preventing Overweight Using Novel Dietary Strategies) Study.”

The Open Food Science Journal: “Nutritional potential, Health and Food Security Benefits of Taro Colocasia esculenta (L.): A Review.”

© 2020 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.

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