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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
Taro root also contains high levels of:
Nutrients per Serving
One cup of taro root has:
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