The health benefits of taro root include its ability to improve digestion, lower blood sugar levels, prevent certain types of cancers, protect the skin, enhance vision, increase , decrease , aid the immune system, and prevent heart disease, while also supporting muscle and nerve health.
What is Taro Root?
Taro root, which is the thick, tuber stalk of the taro plant is an extremely important part of global cuisines and diets, as it has been for thousands of years. In fact, taro is considered to be one of the first cultivated plants in human history. Its scientific name is Colocasia esculenta and it has a fascinating history. It is believed to be native to Southeast Asia and southern India, but it is cultivated and used in many places all around the world. Fascinatingly, it seems as though every culture uses taro in a slightly different way, depending on how it is prepared and the variety of the crop that is grown. It is also one of the few crops that can grow in flooded areas, due to its petioles, which can transfer materials even whilst underwater. It is a staple food in African, Indian, and Oceanic cuisines, but it can be found everywhere from Japan, Egypt, and Suriname to the United States, Fiji, and Spain.
The most common form is dasheen, and the plant is also commonly known as “elephant ears”, due to the shape of the broad leaves. The leaves, roots, and corms can be used as dietary ingredients, but the plant must be cooked. It is actually toxic in raw form, due to the high content of oxalates, but those dangerous substances can be eliminated when cooked with some baking soda or if steeped overnight. The reason that this plant is so widely used is due to the ease with which it grows and the size/sustenance it can provide. More than 11.3 million metric tons of taro plants/roots are cultivated around the world each year. Taro root is gaining popularity in certain health-conscious cultures and populations. Now, let’s take a closer look at the health benefits of the taro root.
Nutritional Value of Taro Root
|Serving Size :|
|Total lipid (fat) [g]||0.2|
|Carbohydrate, by difference [g]||26.46|
|Fiber, total dietary [g]||4.1|
|Sugars, total [g]||0.4|
|Calcium, Ca [mg]||43|
|Iron, Fe [mg]||0.55|
|Magnesium, Mg [mg]||33|
|Phosphorus, P [mg]||84|
|Potassium, K [mg]||591|
|Sodium, Na [mg]||11|
|Zinc, Zn [mg]||0.23|
|Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid [mg]||4.5|
|Vitamin B-6 [mg]||0.28|
|Folate, DFE [µg]||22|
|Vitamin B-12 [µg]||0|
|Vitamin A, RAE [µg]||4|
|Vitamin A, IU [IU]||76|
|Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) [mg]||2.38|
|Vitamin D (D2 + D3) [µg]||0|
|Vitamin D [IU]||0|
|Vitamin K (phylloquinone) [µg]||1|
|Fatty acids, total saturated [g]||0.04|
|Fatty acids, total monounsaturated [g]||0.02|
|Fatty acids, total polyunsaturated [g]||0.08|
|Fatty acids, total trans [g]||0|
|Sources include : USDA|
Health Benefits of Taro Root
The health benefits of taro root include its ability to improve digestive health, prevent cancer, improve vision health, and much more.
One of the most important functions of the taro root in the diet is its role in digestion. The high level of dietary fiber found in taro root (a single serving contains 27% of the daily requirement of dietary fiber) makes it very important for supporting our health. Fiber helps to add bulk to our bowel movements, thereby helping food move through the digestive tract and facilitating improved digestion. This can help prevent certain conditions such as excess gas, bloating, cramping, constipation, and even diarrhea. A healthy, regulated gastrointestinal system can greatly boost your overall health.
Speaking of cancer, taro root also plays an important part in the the US Department of Health and Human Services, free radicals are the dangerous by-products of cellular metabolism that can cause healthy cells to mutate and turn into cells. By eliminating these free radicals, our general health is almost guaranteed! The American
Institute for Cancer Research published a report in association with the World Cancer Research Fund, which stated that , which is found in taro root, is directly connected to a lowered chance of developing both lung and oral cancers.
Dietary fiber can also help lower the chances of developing diabetes because it regulates the release of insulin and glucose in the body. If you have a sufficient level of fiber, which taro root provides, then you can manage your glycemic levels and lower your chances of developing diabetes. If you have diabetes, then fiber-rich foods like taro root can help prevent the dangerous spikes and plunges in blood sugar.
Improved Heart Health
Taro root contains a significant level of potassium, an essential mineral that we need to remain healthy and functional. Potassium not only facilitates healthy fluid transfers between membranes and tissues throughout the body but also helps to relieve stress and pressure on blood vessels and arteries. By relaxing the veins and blood vessels, blood pressure can be reduced and thus the stress on the overall system is reduced. Potassium has even been connected to increased function because neural connections can be boosted when blood pressure is reduced, and fluid transfer between neural membranes is optimized!
Taro root contains various antioxidants, including beta-carotene and cryptoxanthin. These antioxidants can help improve vision as well, by preventing free radicals from attacking ocular cells and causing macular degeneration or cataracts!
Between vitamin E and vitamin A, our skin is well protected when we add taro root to our diets. Both of these essential vitamins work to eliminate skin conditions and boost overall cellular health, meaning that our wounds and heal faster, wrinkles can be diminished, and a healthy glow can be returned to the skin. Taro root is nature’s little secret to healthier skin!
Boosts Immune System
Perhaps the most important element of taro root for health is its role in the immune system. It has a very high level of vitamin C in each serving, which stimulates the immune system to create white blood cells, which defend the body from foreign pathogens and agents. Furthermore, vitamin C acts as an antioxidant, which partially prevents the development of serious health conditions.
The mineral content of the taro root has dozens of useful applications, but the dual presence of iron and copper in taro root make it a very important food to prevent anemia and boost circulation throughout the body. Iron and copper are both essential for the production of red blood cells, which carry the all-important oxygen to our body’s systems and cells. It helps in lowering your chances of anemia (iron deficiency) and boosting the flow of blood through the body. This, in turn, helps increase the metabolic activity, growth of new cells, and general oxygenation of the body, which results in the organs and systems functioning at their optimal levels!
Word of Caution: The only major problem with taro root is its extremely high-calorie content. Every 100 grams contains 112 calories, which can be an issue for people trying to lose weight. It has more carbohydrates by volume than potatoes, so overdoing it with taro root can cause obesity if you aren’t careful. Eat taro root in moderation, to get the health benefits, without packing on the pounds!