What Are the Health Benefits of Malanga?

A slice malanga root on a cutting board.
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If you happen to be near a Hispanic market and are looking for a new food to add to your repertoire, you might want to consider giving malanga a try. A tropical root vegetable from South America, malanga is good baked, mashed or roasted. Including this root vegetable in your diet can help you meet your daily fiber and potassium needs. Plus, it's considered one of the least allergenic foods, according to the University of Florida, making it a good choice for anyone with severe food allergies.

Steady Your Blood Pressure

Eating foods rich in potassium helps control blood pressure by lowering the effects of sodium, according to the American Heart Association, and it is recommended that you get 4,700 milligrams of potassium a day from food. With 320 milligrams in a 1/3-cup serving, malanga can help you meet your daily potassium needs and aid in blood pressure control. A high potassium diet is not healthy for everyone, however. The elderly and people with kidney disease should talk to their doctors first about potassium before upping their intake.

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Good for Your Gut

Malanga is also a good source of fiber. A 1/3-cup serving of cooked malanga contains 3 grams. Most Americans don't get enough fiber in their diet, averaging about 15 grams a day, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Women need 25 grams of fiber a day and men 38 grams. Adding more fiber-rich foods to your diet like malanga not only helps improve constipation but may also make it easier for you to maintain a healthy weight and lower your risk of heart disease.

For Those With Allergies

Food allergies are a growing concern in the United States, according to Food Allergy Research and Education, affecting as many as 15 million people. Wheat is one of the top eight food allergens, and not being able to eat wheat or wheat products can significantly limit your food choices. Milled into flour, hypoallergenic malanga can be used as a substitute for wheat flour when making foods such as pancakes, bread, cookies, doughnuts or muffins.

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Energy-Boosting Carbs

Most of the calories in malanga come from its carb content, with 16 grams in a 1/3-cup serving. 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.

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Malanga is a tropical vegetable also known as eddoe. This food is rich in carbohydrates and has an unpleasant taste when raw, so it is always served cooked. Malanga, as with many other vegetables, is not a significant source of fat or protein, but unlike many vegetables, it is rich in calories. This may make it preferable for athletes or others with high calorie demands.

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Calories

One cup of the cooked malanga provides 132 calories, which is about 7 percent of your total calories, based on a 2,000-calorie diet. While this may not seem high, comparatively, a cup of cooked broccoli contains just 44 calories. Thus, malanga may not be your best vegetable option for weight loss diets.

Fat

Malanga is low in fat, so it can be suitable for low-fat diets if you can fit it into your calorie needs. Each cup of cooked malanga contains just 1 g of fat. None of this fat comes from saturated or trans fats, which are types of fat that can increase your risk of heart disease. Because of this risk, the American Heart Association recommends limiting trans fat to less than 1 percent of your calories and saturated fat to less than 7 percent.

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Carbohydrates

The bulk of the calories in malanga come from the carbohydrate content of this vegetable. Each cup of cooked malanga provides 32 g of carbohydrates, which is twice as much as a slice of bread. Carbohydrates provide your body with energy, so you may find high-carbohydrate foods such as malanga suitable for fueling athletic endeavors.

Fiber

Malanga is not a rich source of fiber, as each cup of cooked malanga provides just 2 g. Fiber is a vital nutrient that enhances feelings of fullness, ensures healthy digestion and can help keep your blood sugar levels stable.

Protein

Malanga is not a good source of protein. Each cup of cooked malanga offers just 2 g of protein, or 1/4 of what a cup of milk provides. You need to consume protein to support the synthesis and repair of your body's tissues, such as skin and muscle.

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