Maybe you've seen taro root in the snack aisle of your grocery store, touted as a healthier alternative to the potato chip. But the taro root is more than just a chip. In fact, it is a staple food in the native Hawaiian diet and is used to make the traditional creamy, purple dish known as poi. Taro root is a low-calorie, starchy vegetable that is full of nutrients.
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Low-Calorie Food Choice
Compared to other vegetables such as broccoli, the taro root is a little higher in calories, but still an overall low-calorie food. A 1/2-cup serving of raw taro root contains 55 calories. Including more low-calorie foods like the taro root in your diet can help you cut back on your calorie intake, which might help you lose weight or maintain a healthier weight.
Healthy Carbs and Fiber
As a starchy vegetable, the taro root contains more carbs than other types of vegetables. While this might make you think twice about adding taro root to your diet, when it comes to carb choice, quality matters. And as a source of fiber plus essential vitamins and minerals, taro root makes a healthy carb choice. A 1/2-cup serving of raw taro root contains 14 grams of carbohydrate and 2 grams of fiber.
Very Low In Protein and Fat
Taro root is not a good source of protein or fat, with 1 gram of protein and negligible amounts of fat in a 1/2-cup serving. You need protein and fat in your diet in order for you body to function properly, but as long as you eat a variety of foods, you should be able to meet your daily needs. In general, you need 10 to 35 percent of calories from protein and 20 to 35 percent of calories from fat.
Provides Vitamins and Minerals
Taro root is not a significant source of any nutrient except potassium, but it does contain folate, vitamin C and a small amount of calcium. Potassium, folate and calcium are nutrients of concern, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which means many Americans are not getting enough of them in their diet. Increasing potassium in your diet might help lower your blood pressure by decreasing the effects of sodium. All women of childbearing age need to increase their intake of folate to prevent neural tube defects. Adequate intake of calcium is essential for bone health. Vitamin C may not be a nutrient of concern, but as an antioxidant it protects you against free radical damage and risk of heart disease and cancer.
REFERENCES & RESOURCES
- Hawaii Seed: Taro
- FatFree: Nutrition Data for Taro, Raw
- FatFree: Nutritional Data for Broccoli, Raw
- U.S. Department of Agriculture: 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans
- Harvard School of Public Health: Carbohydrates
- McKinley Health Center: Macronutrients: The Importance of Carbohydrates, Protein and Fat
- MedlinePlus: Vitamin C
- The Art of Aquatic Cooking: Taro Basics