Surprising Benefits of Taro Root

A starchy root vegetable known as taro was first planted in Asia but is now consumed all around the world. It has a brown outer skin and white meat that is flecked with purple. When cooked, it has a texture and taste that is rather sweet. The health benefits of taro root include enhanced blood sugar control, stomach and heart health, and it is a fantastic source of fibre and other nutrients.

  • Despite being a starchy vegetable, taro root has two kinds of carbs that are good for controlling blood sugar: fibre and resistant starch.
    A carbohydrate that cannot be digested by humans is fibre. It has no effect on blood sugar levels since it is not absorbed. It also aids in reducing the rate of other carbohydrates’ digestion and absorption, reducing the size of blood sugar increases following meals. Moreover, taro has a unique form of starch called resistant starch, which is indigestible by humans and does not affect blood sugar levels. One of the best sources of this vitamin is cooked taro root, which contains about 12% resistant starch.
    Taro root is an excellent source of carbohydrates, especially for those with diabetes, because to its mix of resistant starch and fibre.
  • Taro root’s fibre and resistant starch may also lower your risk of developing heart disease. According to extensive studies, persons who eat more fibre typically have lower incidences of heart disease. This is thought to be caused in part by fibre’s effects on decreasing cholesterol, but study is still being conducted. The resistant starch found in taro root also lowers cholesterol and has been associated with a lower risk of heart disease.
  • Polyphenols are plant-based substances found in taro root that have a number of health advantages, including the potential to lower the risk of cancer. Quercetin, the primary polyphenol present in taro root, is also present in significant quantities in onions, apples, and tea.
    Quercetin has been shown in test-tube and animal experiments to cause cancer cell death and inhibit the spread of a number of malignancies.
    Furthermore, it has potent antioxidant properties that guard your body from excessive free radical damage, which has been related to cancer. No human studies have been done, although one test-tube study found that taro extract could inhibit the spread of some types of breast and prostate cancer cells.
    Even though first tests show promise, more analysis is required to fully comprehend taro’s anticancer abilities.

Taro Leaves

The heart-shaped leaves of the taro plant (Colocasia esculenta), which is often grown in subtropical and tropical climates, are known as taro leaves.
Although the taro plant is most famous for its starchy, edible root, its leaves are also a common ingredient in many different types of food.
It’s vital to remember that raw taro leaves are harmful before cooking, even though eating cooked taro leaves may have some health benefits.

  • Antioxidant-rich foods may aid in reducing the amount of potentially dangerous chemicals known as free radicals.
    When free radicals are allowed to run amok, they can encourage bodily inflammation, which can exacerbate a number of illnesses like cancer, autoimmune diseases, and heart disease. Both polyphenols and vitamin C, two common antioxidant substances, are abundant in taro leaves.
    In order to avoid sickness, eating cooked taro leaves on a regular basis may help your body produce fewer free radicals.
  • They also include a lot of water, with 92.4% of their composition being water. It has been demonstrated that foods with high fibre and water contents help with weight management by encouraging feelings of fullness after meals, which makes you eat less. Taro leaves are highly nutrient-dense and low in calories, thus substituting them for higher calorie foods may help you reach or maintain a healthy body weight.
  • A diet rich in nutrient-dense fruits and vegetables has generally been linked with enhanced heart health time and time again. Dark leafy greens, which also includes spinach, kale, and Swiss chard, are a group of vegetables that include taro leaves.
    According to a 2016 study, eating a lot of dark leafy greens can reduce your risk of heart disease by up to 15.8%.They are also an excellent source of dietary nitrates, which support normal blood pressure.
    As a result, incorporating taro leaves in a diet that is generally nutritious may aid to support heart health.

Raw leaves are poisonous

When eating taro leaves, one important safety precaution to be mindful of is their toxicity when consumed uncooked.
Oxalate, a naturally occurring substance present in many plants, is present in high concentrations in taro leaves.
Oxalates can contribute to the formation of kidney stones, thus certain people who are at risk for developing them may need to avoid foods that contain oxalates.
Although many foods, including spinach, beans, soy products, and beets, contain oxalates, the quantity is too little to have any toxic effects.
Despite being deadly when eaten raw, younger taro leaves have a higher concentration of oxalates than older leaves. It’s also crucial to remember that some individuals scratch while handling raw leaves, so wearing gloves may be a good idea. The deadly oxalates in taro leaves must be destroyed by cooking them until they soften, which only takes a few minutes when boiling or 30 to 60 minutes when baking. Taro leaves can also be cleaned of dangerous oxalates by soaking in water for a period of time ranging from 30 minutes to overnight.

According to data, more oxalates are likely to be removed when soaking foods for longer periods of time and boiling them rather than baking them.
Taro leaves are safe to eat for the majority of people when these procedures are finished.
However, due to their high oxalate content, taro leaves should be completely avoided by those who are at a high risk for kidney stones.

How to eat them

Taro leaves are currently offered in specialised markets all over the world, despite historically being consumed by cultures in the tropical and subtropical regions.
There are various ways to prepare them depending on the region.
Taro leaves that have been cooked have a mild, nutty flavour with faint metallic undertones. Consequently, to maximise their flavour character, they are best served as a component of a dish.
The leaves are also known as luau leaves in Hawaii. Here, they are employed to prepare a dish called lau lau, in which a variety of dishes are cooked while being wrapped in leaves.
In some parts of India, taro leaves are used to prepare a dish called alu wadi, which involves rolling the leaves in a spice paste and steaming them for 15 to 20 minutes.
Laing, a delicacy made with taro leaves, coconut milk, and flavorful spices, is popular in the Philippines.
The leaves are a versatile vegetable because they may be added to stews, casseroles, and soups.
Last but not least, like other leafy greens like spinach and kale, taro leaves can be cooked and eaten simple. But, it’s crucial to cook them thoroughly to lower their oxalate level.

The bottom line

Similar to spinach, taro leaves are a healthy leafy green that are typically grown in subtropical and tropical climates.
They are abundant in a number of critical micronutrients, including disease-preventing antioxidants and vitamins C, A, folate, and calcium.
They are a great food for enhancing heart health and general wellbeing due to their high fibre and low calorie content.
Cooked taro leaves can be a varied and nutrient-rich addition to your diet, despite the fact that the leaves can be deadly when eaten raw.

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