Originally cultivated in Asia, the starchy root vegetable known as taro root has become popular around the world. Taro roots have brown outer skin and white flesh with purple specks throughout. It has a mildly sweet taste and texture similar to a potato.
But aside from its flavor, taro roots offer a variety of health benefits. Here are six of them:
Rich in fiber and nutrients
A cup of cooked taro root contains 187 calories, mostly from carbs, at less than one gram each of protein and fat. People who eat taro roots can get a good amount of various nutrients like fiber, potassium, magnesium, and vitamins C and E.
Helps control blood sugar
Despite being a starchy vegetable, taro roots contain two types of carbohydrates, fiber and resistant starch, that are beneficial for blood sugar management.
Fiber is a carbohydrate that people can’t digest thus leaving no impact on blood sugar levels. It also helps slow down digestion and absorption of other carbs which prevent large blood sugar spikes after meals.
Taro roots also contain resistant starch which humans can’t digest and doesn’t raise blood sugar levels. The combination of resistant starch and fiber in taro roots make it a good source of carbohydrates, especially for people with diabetes.
Reduces the risk of heart disease
Another benefit of the fiber and resistant starch in taro root is that it also helps reduce the risk of heart disease. According to research, people who eat more fiber have lower rates of heart disease compared to those who don’t. This is partly because of fiber’s cholesterol-lowering effects.
Resistant starch in the tarot roots also lowers cholesterol and has been linked to a reduced risk of heart disease.
Offers anti-cancer properties
Taro roots contain plant-based compounds called polyphenol that is known to reduce cancer risk. The main polyphenol found in taro roots is quercetin, which can also be found in large amounts in onions, apples, and tea.
Studies found that quercetin can trigger cancer cell death and slow the growth of several types of cancers. Quercetin is also a powerful antioxidant that protects a body from excessive free radical damage that’s linked to cancer.
Help in weight loss
Research shows that people who eat more fiber have lower body weight and less body fat. This is because fiber delays bowel movement, keeping people full longer and reduces the number of calories taken throughout the day.
The resistant starch in taro roots has similar effects.
Promotes gut health
Since taro roots are packed with fiber and resistant starch, the starchy vegetable also offers benefits to gut health.
Human bodies don’t absorb fiber and resistant starch, keeping them in the intestines. When these reach the colon, they become food for the microbes in the gut and promote the growth of good bacteria.
Once bacteria in the gut ferment the fibers, it creates short-chain fatty acids that nourish the cells that line intestines to keep them healthy and strong.
While taro roots have several health benefits, starchy tubers can also be eaten in several ways such as chips, soups, cakes, and more. Remember to cook the tubers well before consuming them because it can leave a stinging feeling in the mouth if not properly done.