If you are looking for a new food to add to your repertoire, consider giving the corm vegetable malanga a try. Hearty and versatile, malanga has many healthy benefits and a good nutritional value.
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Malanga is grown all around the world and is delicious baked, steamed and roasted. It can be served mashed, diced up and put into stews, or dried and ground into flour. Like its cousin the potato, malanga has an unpleasant taste when raw, so it is always served cooked. Unlike the potato, however, you shouldn't eat the hairy brown skin of a malanga.
Including malanga in your diet can help you meet important daily nutritional needs. Like many other vegetables, malanga is not a significant source of fat or protein. But unlike other veggies, it is rich in both carbohydrates and calories.
Read on to learn more about the nutritional benefits of malanga.
Malanga is often referred to as a root vegetable, but it isn't. "These vegetables are actually corms, which are a swollen, underground portion of the stem, rather than an actual root," explains a February 2020 blog published by John Vena Inc. Specialty Produce in Philadelphia.
It's High in Potassium
Malanga's nutritional profile is similar to that of cooked taro, which according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) contains 484 milligrams of potassium in a 1/2-cup serving. Malanga can therefore help you meet your daily potassium needs and also aid in blood pressure control.
Eating foods rich in potassium helps control blood pressure by easing tension in blood vessel walls and lessening the effects of sodium, according to the American Heart Association. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) recommend that adults get between 2,600 and 3,400 milligrams of potassium each day.
A diet rich in potassium is not healthy for everyone, however. Those with chronic kidney disease and people taking ACE inhibitors or diuretics should talk to their doctors before adding a potassium-rich food like malanga to their diet, per the NIH.
Malanga is considered one of the least allergenic foods, making it a good choice for anyone with severe food allergies.
Wheat is one of the eight major food allergens, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. As those who are allergic to wheat well know, not being able to eat wheat or wheat products can significantly limit your food choices. Milled into flour, hypoallergenic malanga is a healthful alternative to wheat flour when making foods such as pancakes, bread, cookies, doughnuts or muffins. Hooray!
Malanga is called by many different names, some of them not quite accurate. Even the USDA confuses it with similar vegetables at times. Malanga is often referred to as taro, eddoe, yautia, cocoyam and more. Some of these names are simply regional; others come from the fact that the vegetable looks so much like other corm vegetable varieties.
It Boosts Energy
The bulk of the calories in malanga come from the carbohydrate content of this vegetable. Each cup of cooked malanga provides 32 grams of carbohydrates, which is twice as much as a slice of bread. Carbohydrates provide your body with energy, so malanga is a good choice for athletes or others with high calorie demands who want to fuel up.
Most of the calories in malanga come from its carb content. (The similar taro has about 35 grams of carbohydrates in a 1/2-cup serving, says the USDA.)
Carbs are you body's preferred source of energy, and necessary for fueling your hard-working muscles and organ systems. As a complex carb, malanga digests more slowly than a simple carb such as soda. This helps maintain blood sugar levels and keeps you feeling energized longer.
A study published in the June 2018 Journal of Functional Foods found that malangas have a higher total carbohydrate content than potatoes because they have more total starch. "Malanga carbohydrates are more bioaccessible and bioavailable than those of potato," wrote researchers. "Malanga consumption [also] leads to higher alpha diversity of the gut microbiome than potato."
It's Low in Fat
A cup of cooked taro (again, similar to malanga) contains just .145 grams of fat, and zero cholesterol. That makes malanga and other corm vegetables a good low-fat food choice.
A low-fat diet brings many important health benefits. A study of postmenopausal women published in The Journal of Nutrition in September 2019 found that a low-fat diet "reduced death following breast cancer, slowed diabetes progression and prevented coronary heart disease."
- Journal of Functional Foods: "Physicochemical Differences Between Malanga (Xanthosoma Sagittifolium) and Potato (Solanum Tuberosum) Tubers Are Associated with Differential Effects on the Gut Microbiome"
- John Vena Inc. Specialty Produce: "Your Guide to Caribbean Roots"
- American Heart Association: "How Potassium Can Help Control High Blood Pressure"
- U.S. Department of Agriculture: "Taro, Cooked, Without Salt"
- National Institutes of Health: "Potassium"
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration: "Food Allergies"
- U.S. Department of Agriculture: "Yautia Inspection Instructions"
- The Journal of Nutrition: "Low-Fat Dietary Pattern among Postmenopausal Women Influences Long-Term Cancer, Cardiovascular Disease, and Diabetes Outcomes"