SHE Explores: What is Taro Root?
Heather and I were recently in Hawaii visiting our younger sister and her husband in Kauai, Hawaii. Neither of us had ever been to any of the Hawaiian Islands so we were super excited. A fun fact that I didn’t know until I got there was that Hawaii grows taro root! Heather and I will eat taro root as a fun way to get variety in our diet, plus it is gluten-free (GF) (we’ve both been GF for 10+ years due to our health issues and it made a dramatic difference in our health by excluding it.)
But why should you care about taro root? Watch the video and read on to find out why you might want to include in your diet the “hairy cousin” to the potato as it’s nicknamed - because, well, it looks not cute and very hairy with lots of little roots, lol. We got to see a taro root farm and it was absolutely gorgeous to finally see just were this tasty snack actually comes from. I hope you find the video and blog informative and that it inspires you to try taro root!
Tara root is a food staple in other parts of the world but is native to India and Southeast Asia. It has many health benefits and is a great addition to one’s diet, especially if gluten-free. Contrary to some popular articles circulating the internet, Tara root does not actually contain significant amounts of vitamin c or vitamin A. A traditional dish called “poi,” is served in Hawaii, and is made by mashing taro root and water together. However, most people consume it via bubble tea (a huge craze right now), also known as taro milk tea. It was also the powder added to make Starbucks hugely popular purple unicorn drink because taro has a purple hue that gets transferred to whatever you put it in.
The root grows the best in humid climates and very wet conditions, which is why it can grow well in Hawaii. Because it is extremely resilient, it is a popular plant to grow, especially because it is one of the few crops that can grow in flooded regions.
So why do you care if you eat it?
Nutrition Benefits of Taro Root?
So what are some of the top nutrients found in taro and how does it support long-term wellness?
Most Americans are not getting enough fiber in their diet. In fact, according to the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics the average person consumes less than 15 g of fiber a day. Getting 25 to 30 g a day is the recommended dietary guideline for long-term health. This is one of the reasons why taro is such a great addition to your diet because 1 cup of taro contains 6.7 g of fiber, which meets 25 percent of your daily fiber needs.
Adequate Fiber Intake is Associated with:
Reduced risk of cardiovascular disease
Better bowel movement regularity
Fuels good bacteria in the gut
Nutritious Bonus: Almost 12% of the starch in cooked taro root is resistant starch. Resistant starch is an important piece to long-term gut health because it is turned into short-chain fatty acids by intestinal bacteria.
Taro meets 25 percent of your vitamin E needs, which is 15mg per day. Vitamin E is fat soluble which means it is only absorbed in the presence of fat. Because it is also an antioxidant, you want ample amounts of this vitamin because the antioxidants will protect against heart disease and certain types of cancer.
Benefits of Vitamin E:
Fights Free Radicals
Can Support Thicker Hair
Balances Hormones and PMS Symptoms
Decrease the risk of age-related macular degeneration
May Lower Cancer Risk
Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease
If you hang out with me long enough, you know that I am passionate about people understanding the essential need our bodies have for minerals for us to live our best lives. Our top soil quality is diminishing yearly, and this is contributing to the rise in disease because we are no longer getting as much nutrients in the food we eat. So getting good sources of mineral rich foods in is important. Tara contains 639 mg of potassium.
A high potassium intake reduces the risk of overall mortality by 20 percent.
Other benefits include:
Decreases the risk of stroke
Lowers blood pressure
Protects against loss of muscle mass
Preserves bone mineral density
Reduces the formation of kidney stones
Taro root is a good source of vitamin B6, also known as pyridoxine. Vitamin B6 isn’t talked about as much as other B vitamins, but it should be! It is a powerhouse for women’s health and can cause all kinds of issues if deficient.
Benefits of Vitamin B6 include:
Aids the digestion & metabolism of food
Supports muscle growth, recovery & repair of damaged tissues.
Improves mood and reduces symptoms of depression
Promotes brain health, including reducing risk of Alzheimer’s
Helps to treat anemia more effectively
Reduces PMS symptoms
Can decrease nausea in pregnancy
May prevent clogged arteries and reduce heart disease risk.
Other nutrients found in taro include calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, manganese, folate, and vitamins C.
Overall Health Benefits of Taro Root:
Reduced risk of diabetes
Supports heart health
Enhances skin health
How Can You Include Taro Root Into Your Diet?
1. Taro Chips: Taro chips are a delicious and crunchy snack and are becoming a popular healthy alternative to potato chips and can be found in many health stores today.
2. Fresh Taro Root: They actually sell raw taro root on Amazon now! This used to be something that was only found in specialty health food stores and now you can buy it online! However, you can also look for it at your local grocery store.
3. Taro Root Powder: This is used to make bubble tea at home. I have also seen health enthusiasts add it to their smoothies to get their resistant starch into their diet. I have personally never tried this from of taro root, so if you have or decide to try it, please let me know how it goes!
Does This Work FOr my Unique Body?
Kidney Stones: If you are someone who has a history of kidney stones, you will want to skip adding taro to your diet. It is high oxalate which is the common cause for many people creating kidney stones.
Oxalate Sensitive: If you are oxalate sensitive (a growing sensitivity in our population, I am personally very sensitive and must watch how much I eat) you should be careful with how often you eat taro root as it is high oxalate.
FODMAPS: Taro is a high FODMAP food. If you are only beginning eating low FODMAP you will need to avoid until you can determine tolerance. If you are FODMAP sensitive and are past the reintroduction phase, the recommended serving is ½ cup or less.