Updated date:

Taro Root - Colocasia or Arbi and Poi - Nutrition and Health Benefits

Rajan is a botany and chemistry major. He has worked as a poultry breeder for 23 years, breeding layer and broiler parents.

Arbi (Taro Root)

Latin name: Colocasia esculenta

Taro has been called "The potato of the humid tropics".

Among the many other names for taro are dasheen, yantia, eddoe and gabi.

About Taro | Arbi | Colocasia

Taro refers to both the plant as well as the leaves and more specifically, to the underground swollen stems called corms or rhizomes that are edible and are cooked in several ways before eating.

Taro is an alkaline food despite its acidic pH, much like lemon or lime, as the alkaline (Na, K, Ca, Mg) forming elements exceed the acid-forming elements (S, P, Cl).

An annual taro festival is held in Hawaii every April where children learn to pound the taro corms to prepare taro paste called Poi. Fresh taro harvested is gifted to friends and relatives on this occasion.

Taro is a major source of starch and one of the highest vegetable sources of energy.

Taro Leaves

taro-colocasia-arbi-vegetable-nutrition-and-health-benefits

The Taro (Arbi) Pant

Taro is a tropical plant, a native to South India and Southeast Asia but is widely naturalized today. It is a perennial plant especially grown for its edible starchy roots though its leaves are also edible and are eaten as well as a vegetable.

Taro is believed to be one of the earliest of the cultivated plants. It needs abundant water and can even grow in flooded conditions.

The taro root has a rough and dark-coloured exterior that is covered by fibrous hairs. They are rich in oxalic acid which is the reason they should be either kept soaked in water overnight or boiled/cooked well to remove the oxalic acid before eating.

Colocasia or taro can be eaten baked, roasted, boiled or prepared into a vegetable. Taro has a slimy texture once it is boiled. Also, taro causes itching, irritation and burning sensation if handled or eaten raw.

In Western India, taro leaves are used to prepare a breakfast dish called 'Patra' or 'Patrode' which is prepared like fritters. In Maharastra state, curry is made of these leaves.

The taro plant is a few feet in height with large heart-shaped leaves that look much like the ears of an elephant. For this reason, it is also called elephant ears.

The corm or the rhizome (root) can be round to oblong in shape with the brown fibrous skin being marked by circular rings. The flesh is generally white in colour.

Taro is a root crop of primarily the tropical and subtropical regions. Historically, taro has been a major dietary staple food on the islands of the Pacific esp Hawaii, New Zealand and West of Indonesia.

Patra (Patrode) Recipe - Taro Leaves Recipe

Taro Varieties

Botanists today, considering the many names taro or colocasia is known by regionally, consider these different regional variations, as members of a very variable species of plant, the Colocasia esculenta.

The variety antiquorum is thus called eddoe or arbi and this is a much smaller corm weighing on an average less than 50 grams each, than taro which usually averages 2 to 4 pounds each.

The different regional names of taro are therefore based on regionally bred varieties of taro and therefore the physical characteristics of the plant vary quite a bit with respect to its height, leaf size and corm size.

Nutrients In Taro

  • A richer source of calories than potatoes though it is much lower in fat and protein than even cereals and pulses
  • Cholesterol free
  • Gluten-free as well with good amounts of dietary fibre
  • the complex carbohydrates being slow to digest gradually increase the blood sugar thus being beneficial for those with high blood sugar
  • contains very good levels of beta carotene and beta-cryptoxanthin.
  • taro leaves are exceptionally high in vitamin A and provide 161% of the vitamin A needs per 100 grams
  • contains several minerals like copper, iron, manganese, zinc and magnesium in good amounts
  • low in sodium with good levels of potassium
  • high in Hyaluronic acid which helps in the regeneration of cells

Taro Root | Arbi Vegetable Nutrition Values

 Taro root (Colocasia esculenta (L.) schott), raw, 

 

Nutrition Value per 100 g,

 

 

(Source: USDA National Nutrient data base)

 

Principle

Nutrient Value

Percentage of RDA

Energy

112 Kcal

6%

Carbohydrates

26.46 g

20%

Protein

1.50 g

3%

Total Fat

0.20 g

<1%

Cholesterol

0 mg

0%

Dietary Fiber

4.1 g

11%

Vitamins

 

 

Folates

22 mcg

5.50%

Niacin

0.600 mg

4%

Pantothenic acid

0.303 mg

6%

Pyridoxine

0.283 mg

23%

Riboflavin

0.025 mg

2%

Thiamin

0.095 mg

8%

Vitamin A

76 IU

2.50%

Vitamin C

4.5 mg

7%

Vitamin E

2.38 mg

20%

Vitamin K

1mcg

1%

Electrolytes

 

 

Sodium

11 mg

<1%

Potassium

591 mg

12.50%

Minerals

 

 

Calcium

43 mg

4%

Copper

0.172 mg

19%

Iron

0.55 mg

7%

Magnesium

33 mg

8%

Manganese

0.383 mg

1.50%

Selenium

0.7 mcg

1%

Zinc

0.23 mg

2%

Phyto-nutrients

 

 

Beta-Carotene

35 mcg

--

Alpha-Carotene

0 mcg

--

Beta-Cryptoxanthin

20 mcg

--

Lutein-zeaxanthin

0 mcg

--

Health Benefits Of Taro | Arbi

Since taro is a low glycemic index food, it releases sugar slowly into the blood, thus helping regulate blood sugar levels and prevent sugar level spikes that can be detrimental to people with diabetes. Ensuring consistent glucose levels over a longer period of time ensures energy for a longer time.

Taro leaves are extremely rich in vitamin A while the roots are rich in polyphenolic antioxidants, the beta-cryptoxanthin and beta carotene. These help in maintaining vision health and preventing eye problems, and also protecting against cancer, heart disease and stroke.

Taro also lowers blood pressure and keeps the heart muscles healthy due to the excellent levels of magnesium and potassium it contains. Low fat and cholesterol keep the heart-healthy as well.

Taro lowers the bad cholesterol. In fact, root crops have been found to lower bad cholesterol significantly because of their high dietary fibre content. The fibre also helps to lower the risk of colon cancer.

Taro corms are a natural source of bioactive proteins that act as immunostimulators on the bone, marrow and spleen cells as noted in a study done on mice.

The good iron, folate and copper levels not only prevent anaemia but also aid in supplying oxygen-rich blood to all organs and systems.

The antioxidant vitamins A, C & E levels also ensure healthier and glowing skin and mucous membranes, faster healing of wounds, prevention of premature skin wrinkling and ageing, better hair health, reduction of dandruff and hair loss.

The dietary fibre keeps hunger at bay as it keeps the stomach fuller longer thus helping to maintain and even lose weight.

Taro is an excellent vegetable for the aged as it is easily digestible, provides an array of vitamins and minerals which help to prevent weakness and keep the elderly healthy and energetic. High fibre levels also ensure constipation is kept at bay.

Tamatar Wali Arbi (Tomato Colocasia/Taro Vegetable) Recipe

About Poi & Its Health Benefits

This article will not be complete unless the benefits of Poi, the major form of taro consumption in Hawaii, are mentioned here.

Studies on the medicinal uses of the Hawaiian dish poi, which is a major form of taro consumption in Hawaii, indicate that it is easily and fully digestible mainly because of the smaller taro starch granule as Poi undergoes fermentation by yeast & lactic acid bacteria that are naturally found on the plant surface.

Not only this it also enhances in greater absorption of calcium and phosphorus minerals.

Poi is excellent for those with food allergies as it has a very low protein content and is therefore hypoallergenic. Poi is used as a food substitute even in infant allergies, substituting/replacing milk, eggs, peanuts, soy etc.

Poi, in fact, was found to not only affect weight gain in failure-to-thrive infants but also eliminate digestive disorders and associated problems. Along with its probiotic activity, a unique blend of beneficial compounds Poi can benefit in many medical conditions like diarrhoea, gastroenteritis, IBS, IBD and even cancer.

It improves lactose digestion, boosts the immune system, treats high cholesterol & liver damage due to alcohol intake and benefits in urogenital infections, celiac disease, autism and more.

How To Make Poi At Home

Precautions

As taro has a high oxalate content, it should be avoided by those who have kidney issues like gout or stones.

Also, before consuming it either soak it overnight in water or boil/cook it. This will help reduce the oxalate content.

Disclaimer

The information provided in this article is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Please consult your physician, or health care provider before taking any home remedies, supplements or starting a new health regime.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2016 Rajan Singh Jolly

Comments

Rajan Singh Jolly (author) from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on August 16, 2018:

RT, glad you like the information provided. Thank you.

Rajan Singh Jolly (author) from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on August 16, 2018:

manatita, arbi or taro root is, in fact, dasheen. It is, of course, delicious when prepared nicely.

RTalloni on August 14, 2018:

Glad to have learned this information, though I am as surprised as Peggy Woods about this plant's value. Thanks!

manatita44 from london on August 14, 2018:

I said that it looks like tania or dasheen, but in fact it is more like the one we call Arrow Root, very close to your Taro Root. Ha ha. It is very nice when well prepared.

Rajan Singh Jolly (author) from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on August 13, 2018:

I am glad this article offered you some new information, Peggy. Thank you for reading.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on August 12, 2018:

I used to grow elephant ears in the yard of our former home but never knew that their roots were taro. I also never knew that the leaves were edible. Very interesting article regarding the uses of taro roots and their leaves along with their nutritional value. You are a great teacher when it comes to foods and such. Thanks!

Rajan Singh Jolly (author) from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on April 15, 2016:

Paul, glad you like this unique textured but healthy veggie. Taro flaor icecream is new to me and I would certainly love to try it. Thanks for sharing the hub. I hope you are fully fit now. All the best to you.

Paul Richard Kuehn from Udorn City, Thailand on April 15, 2016:

Rajan, Thanks for sharing another very informative food hub. We certainly have taro root in Thailand and I eat a lot of it. I love Poi and also enjoy tar0 flavored ice cream. I am sharing this hub with HP followers and on Facebook.

Rajan Singh Jolly (author) from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on March 25, 2016:

Thanks Shaloo. I'm glad my hubs provide some unique information.

Shaloo Walia from India on March 25, 2016:

I didn't even know that arbi is called taro root! You come up with such unique information always.

Rajan Singh Jolly (author) from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on March 25, 2016:

Thanks Devika.

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on March 25, 2016:

The recipes are unique and an informative hub.

Rajan Singh Jolly (author) from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on March 24, 2016:

@Audrey - thank you for reading the hub.

@Denis - do try the other recipe too. Thanks.

@manatita - yes, tania is closely related to the taro or dasheen and is prepared in much the same way. Thanks for stopping by.

@Bill - it's been a learning and rewarding experience for me as well. Thank you.

@Mary - I appreciate your comments. Thanks!

@MsDora - good to hear that. I understand but sometimes we have to. Thanks.

Rajan Singh Jolly (author) from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on March 24, 2016:

@Audrey - thank you for reading the hub.

@Denis - do try the other recipe too. Thanks.

@manatita - yes, tania is closely related to the taro or dasheen and is prepared in much the same way. Thanks for stopping by.

@Bill - it's been a learning and rewarding experience for me as well. Thank you.

@Mary - I appreciate your comments. Thanks!

@MsDora - good to hear that. I understand but sometimes we have to. Thanks.

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on March 24, 2016:

As usual, your articles teach me that some of these items that I know (like this one) has nutrient benefits that I did not know previously. I don't particularly like this tara root, but based on the facts here, I'll eat it sometimes. Thanks!

Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on March 24, 2016:

After reading the health benefits of Taro, I will have it more often. It will be a good for potatoes.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on March 24, 2016:

I don't know how you have done with this series, but I've found it to be very informative and helpful...so thank you!

manatita44 from london on March 24, 2016:

Nice Hub. We have this food in Grenada. I believe it is dasheen or tania. I'm always mixing them up. Used to eat it a lot and also dig it up as well with my grandpa.

So much richness in our tropical foods! Awesome! Excellent Hub!

Denis Lubojanski from 7 Station Street, London on March 24, 2016:

Oh, I loved that last recipe so much. Great hub author.

Audrey Hunt from Idyllwild Ca. on March 23, 2016:

Thanks for all the information and nutritional value of taro root.

Related Articles