Native to South India and Southeast Asia, the taro root has been part of diets as far back as 5,000 B.C. Today, it is a staple in Southeast Asia, Africa, India, China, the Caribbean and the Polynesian islands. In Hawaii, it is even the theme of an annual food festival. Taro root is easy to digest and healthy. However, don't eat it raw! As healthy as it is cooked, taro root is just as toxic uncooked. Read on to learn the nutritional benefits of this highly underrated root vegetable.
Taro is the root of the taro plant and is full of nutrients. But, the root cannot be eaten raw due to its calcium oxalate content. (Calcium oxalate is associated with gout and kidney stones). Taro root is nutty in flavor and similar to the regular white potato, although it's much richer, and it cooks much in the same way, although it is commonly used in dessert recipes as well.
While taro root is higher in calories than potatoes, it contains three-times the dietary fiber. Some 100 grams of taro root offers 11 percent of the RDA of dietary fiber, which is beneficial for optimum digestion. Unlike the potato, it has a low glycemic index, which means that it does not cause blood sugar levels to spike after consumption. It ranks in the "low" category, with an index of 18. Potato, on the other hand, ranks "high" with an index of 111.
Taro root is also a great source of potassium, vitamin C, calcium, vitamin E, B vitamins, magnesium, manganese and copper. The leaves are also rich in vitamin A and C as well as protein. Like the root itself, the leaves require cooking before consumption.
To prepare taro root, peel it with a vegetable peeler under running water. The juices in the root may irritate your skin when it is raw, so use a towel or gloves to help protect yourself. Cover the peeled taro root in water until you are ready to use it. When ready, it can be fried, baked, boiled or roasted. Try out any of the following recipes to get started:
- Taro Root Roast
- Taro Root Korma
- Taro Fries with Sriracha Ketchup
- Homemade Vegetable Chips
- Taro Tapioca Dessert Soup
Photo Credit: GregWattTraveller
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