Taro is a starchy globular fleshy taproot of aroid family. The crunchy, underground root, known as corm, is one of the popular edible root vegetables in large parts Asia, Pacific islands, West Africa, and Amazonian regions of South America. Some of common names are cocoyam, dasheen, colocasia, elephant’s ear (plant and leaves), kalo etc.
Taro is a large perennial herbaceous plant growing up to 5-6 feet. Its large heart shaped leaves with frilly edges, appear like large elephant’s ear at the end of long stout petioles. It grows best in marshy, wet soil and warm humid climates. The corm grows to the size of turnip, has globular or oblong shape with brown fibrous skin. The surface is marked with circular rings showing the points of attachment of scaly leaves. Inside its flesh has white to cream yellow color, but may have different colors depending on cultivar types. The average size corm weight about 2-4 pounds. Its delicious flesh has crisp in consistency and water chestnut like nutty flavor.
Yautia (Xanthosoma species), also known as tannia, malanga etc, is similar to taro but smaller and has somewhat elongated, bumpy corms grown widely in East Asia, Caribbean and South American regions.
Eddoe (Colocasia esculenta antiquorum) is also smaller corm with irregular surface (like root ginger) grown widely in India, China, and Japan as well as in some Caribbean countries. It is known as arbi in the Indian subcontinent.
Health benefits of Taro
1. Taro or dasheen corms have more calories than potatoes. 100 g provides 112 calories. Their calorie mainly comes from complex carbohydrates known as amylose and amylopectin. However, they are very low in fats and protein than in cereals and pulses. Their protein levels are equivalent to that of other tropical food sources like yam, cassava, potato, banana etc.
2. The corms, however, are free from gluten. They feature high quality phyto-nutrition profile comprising of dietary fiber, and antioxidants in addition to moderate proportions of minerals, and vitamins.
3. It is one of the finest source dietary fibers; 100 g flesh provides 4.1 g or 11% of daily-requirement of dietary fiber. Together with slow digesting complex carbohydrates, moderate amounts of fiber in the food helps gradual rise in blood sugar levels.
4. Taro leaves as well as yellow-fleshed roots have significant levels of phenolic flavonoid pigment antioxidants such as ß-carotenes, and cryptoxanthin along with vitamin A. 100 g fresh taro leaves provides 4825 IU or 161% of RDA of vitamin A. Altogether, these compounds are required for maintaining healthy mucus membranes, skin and vision. Consumption of natural foods rich in flavonoids helps to protect from lung and oral cavity cancers.
5. It also contains good levels of some of valuable B-complex group of vitamins such as pyridoxine (vitamin B-6), folates, riboflavin, pantothenic acid, and thiamin.
6. Further, the corms provide healthy amounts of some important minerals like zinc, magnesium, copper, iron, and manganese. In addition, the root has very good amounts of potassium. Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids that help regulate heart rate and blood pressure...