Taro Packed with nutrients that support health, taro is a starchy root vegetable that can be used in many different cooking methods.
Taro ( Colocasia esculenta ), also known as dasheen, is an underutilized but nutritionally sound root vegetable most commonly found in the southern United States and Southeast Asia. It is a member of the Araceae family, which includes plants such as calla lily and philodendrons. The purple variety of taro can be found in some supermarkets while the white variety is commonly available at Asian markets. Taro root has brown outer skin and white flesh with purple specks throughout. When cooked, it has a mildly sweet taste and a texture similar to a potato.
Taro has a starchy texture due to its high amylose content. Amylose, a polysaccharide carbohydrate, is found in starch and cannot be broken down by human digestive enzymes. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), taro contains dietary fiber, calcium, phosphorus, iron, and thiamin.
Taro root has white flesh with purple specks throughout. When cooked, it has a mildly sweet taste and a texture similar to a potato. The USDA states that taro contains dietary fiber, calcium, phosphorus, iron, and thiamin.
Though most commonly found in the southern United States and Southeast Asia, its underutilization may be due to unfamiliarity with its preparation.
By using the root vegetable in various cooking methods, consumers are exposed more to its numerous health benefits. It can be boiled, baked, or fried and prepared similar to potatoes. Taro is common in Jamaican cuisine where it is made into a sweet pudding of sorts or stewed for the main course. In Hawaiian cuisine, poi is a staple dish consisting of taro root mashed and fermented for several days. Taro can also be sliced and deep-fried to make a chiplike chip or shredded and mixed with coconut milk to make coconut taro bread. The leaves of the plant are used as a wrap for oven-baked dishes in Southeast Asian countries, similar to the way grape leaves are used to prepare dolmades.
Although taro is popular in many Asian countries, it's a good source of fiber and other nutrients, offering a variety of potential health benefits. A half-cup serving provides 3 grams or 12 percent of the daily value for fiber, 10 percent of the DV for vitamin B6 and 14 percent of the DV for potassium. It also contains a significant amount of vitamin C, a nutrient that may aid wound healing. Taro root is also a good source of minerals such as iron, magnesium, and manganese.
In addition to being nutritious, taro root is also a low-calorie food, containing only 43 calories in every 100-gram serving. It's an ideal addition to any healthful eating plan as it can be used as part of a low-carbohydrate diet.