What is it and what are the benefits of taro?

Taro is similar to potato or yucca. It is common in many kitchens. A healthy alternative with an excellent flavor and a very smooth texture.

Written and verified by the nutritionist Anna Vilarrasa on September 08, 2021.

Last update: 08 September, 2021

The taroColocasia esculenta var. Schott) is a very popular food in Central America, Hawaii, and other tropical regions around the world. It is also known by the names of taro, pituca, chinese potato, kalo, face, yam or madumbe.

Thanks to the rapid spread of all kinds of gastronomy, its consumption has spread a few years ago. This has been due, in part, to its nutritional qualities and for be an excellent source of energy.

Description and characteristics of taro

Taro root comes from a plant native to Papua New Guinea. However, its cultivation quickly expanded to other Asian regions and today its use is common in many countries.

The edible part is the tuber that grows underground. This must be ingested after a cooking process, otherwise it is indigestible and can cause irritation of the mouth and throat.

The outer skin is brown and its flesh is white or yellow with purple flecks. Once cooked, it has a rather sweet taste and a texture very similar to that of potatoes and cassava.



Taro properties and benefits of its consumption

Taro root is an excellent source of nutrients and offers numerous potential health benefits.

Abundant in nutrients

Its nutritional composition is very interesting and valuable. These are the main contributions per 100 grams of raw food:

  • Water: 70.6 grams.
  • Energy: 112 calories.
  • Carbohydrates: 26.5 grams.
  • Fiber: 4.1 grams.
  • Protein: 1.5 grams.
  • Lipids: 0.2 grams.
This product is no longer so exotic to be purchased in different parts of the world today.

Glycemic control

Although it is a vegetable with abundant carbohydrates, the remarkable presence of fiber helps to control the spikes of glucose in the blood. As can be seen in some essays, dietary fiber intake slows gastric emptying and postprandial blood glucose in patients with type 2 diabetes.

Reduced risk of cardiovascular disease

For a few decades, experts have recommended an adequate intake of fiber, as it has multiple health benefits. As detailed in the Australian Dietary Guide, some of the findings are directly related to heart health:

  • Consumption of each additional daily serving of vegetables is associated with a reduced risk of coronary heart disease.
  • Vegetables are associated with a lower risk of stroke.
  • The protective effect is stronger with higher intakes.

Prebiotic

A part of the dietary fiber of taro is present in the form of resistant starch. This is found in some vegetables and cannot be digested in the stomach. For this reason, it reaches the colon intact, where it is degraded by intestinal bacteria.

This fermentation process gives rise to different benefits for the host. Thus, as detailed in this study, resistant starch helps increase fecal volume, improves intestinal health, and promotes glycemic control.

Helps in weight loss

Taro root can be a good ally in controlling body weight. An average serving of taro provides between 6 and 8 grams of fiber. And this is one of the components that could facilitate obtaining a lower percentage of body fat.

One of the benefits scientists give to fiber is the ability to slow gastric emptying. This could increase the feeling of fullness and avoid snacking and large intakes of food during the day.

Power source

Carbohydrates are the main source of energy for the human body. In the form of starches, it is a type of sustained-release energy, which allows levels to be kept stable for a longer period of time.

This is why they are very recommended for athletes, growing children, adolescents and adults with significant physical activity. In addition, thanks to their great digestibility, texture and mild flavor, they are perfect for children and the elderly with chewing problems.



Possible uses in the kitchen

As mentioned, taro is a very present food in West Indian and Asian cuisines. Its culinary applications are multiple and it can be part of traditional recipes of these countries, replacing the potato.

Before cooking it is necessary to remove the skin and hair that may be present on the surface of the meat. After being thoroughly washed, it is subjected to your preferred cooking method (boiled, steamed or broiled) and served alone or as a side dish.

The dishes in which it can be introduced are multiple, from soups and purees to stews, salads, breads or even sweets. In all recipes it is possible to accompany it with other vegetables, meat or legumes.

As with potatoes or cassava, you can prepare some delicious chips of malanga, baked or fried. They are a tasty and original snack that can be served as an aperitif or a side dish.

Like yucca, taro can be fried or baked to produce a crunchy snack.

Taro puree recipe

To prepare this simple recipe, the following ingredients are necessary:

  • 3 medium taro.
  • Salt and pepper to taste.
  • 1 cup of skim milk.
  • 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil.
  • Hard boiled egg, chicken or minced beef to accompany.

To start, peel and wash the taro well. Next, bring to a boil in a saucepan with water and cook until soft (between 10 and 15 minutes, depending on the size). Strain later.

Add the taro in a bowl or in the blender glass along with the milk, oil, salt and pepper to taste. Beat until you get a homogeneous cream. This step can also be done by hand with the help of a fork.

Finally, serve on a plate along with the grated hard-boiled egg, cooked chicken or beef. If you prefer, it can also be seasoned with a little homemade tomato sauce and spices to taste.

Taste the taro

Taro or taro root is an edible tuber with abundant starch, similar to potatoes and yucca. It is a good food to add to the daily diet. Apart from energy, it provides an adequate amount of vitamins and minerals.

For this reason, and thanks to the presence of some phytochemical compounds, its consumption is recommended to improve health and prevent some diseases. It is related to benefits for the cardiovascular system, the control of blood glucose and the maintenance of body weight.