11 Fantastic Nutritional Health Benefits Of Taro Root (Arbi)

Panaimaram

Taro root (Arbi) belongs to genus  Colocasia and family Araceae and is found mostly in South Central Asia, the Malay Peninsula and India. It spread over time to South East Asia, Japan, China, Pacific Islands and then Arabia, Africa. Hence, now it is considered a pan-tropical crop that is distributed and cultivated everywhere.

Taro is a perennial, herbaceous plant that acquires the height of one to two metres. It has a corm-like structure, from which roots grow downwards; it has a fibrous root system, which is just a meter below the soil surface. The corms are large and cylindrical and are considered to be edible.

100 grams of Taro (Lehua) contains approximately
372.6 calories of energy and minute traces of fructose (0.1 gram), glucose (0.1 gram), thiamine (0.05 grams), riboflavin (0.06 grams), niacin (0.64 grams), zinc (0.17 grams), copper (0.12 grams) and boron (0.12 grams).

100 grams of Taro (Lehua) contains approximately
468 calories of energy and minute traces of fructose (0.2 grams), glucose (0.2 grams), thiamine (0.07 grams), riboflavin (0.05 grams), niacin (0.82 grams), zinc (0.21 grams), copper (0.10 grams) and boron (0.09 grams).

People that consume food with low glycemic index have lesser chances of contracting heart diseases and diabetes. Taro has a low glycaemic index, which naturally helps diabetic patients to control their blood  sugar effectively. The physical endurance is increased as blood glucose levels stay in moderation, they don't drop down radically as a result of insulin production.
Taro root also assists in the balance of blood glucose levels; it brings down and control lipids and triglycerides, thus helping with weight loss and BMI maintenance. It has a sufficient amount of nutrients like protein, calcium, thiamine, phosphorus, riboflavin, niacin and vitamin C, to maintain good skin and overall health.

Taro root has high fibre content. This root crop is an essential source to improve digestive health, as it adds mass to our stool. This bulk allows easy movement through the  bowel. Enough consumption of fibre helps in the prevention of constipation and irritable bowel syndrome. It also controls food cravings, as we feel fuller.
As our body cannot digest dietary fibre or resistant starch effectively, they stay for a longer time in our intestines. By the time they reach the colon, they get devoured by microbes, promoting good bacterial growth.

Taro roots contain polyphenols that are plant-based complex compounds; they are natural antioxidants having multiple health advantages, including the capacity to prevent cancer. Quercetin is the major polyphenol found in taro root, which is also an important ingredient of apples, onions and tea.
Quercetin can act as 'chemopreventers', as they can block the growth of cancer cells. It has antioxidant properties that prevent any damage from oxidation process; it has a pro-apoptotic effect that prevents the proliferation of cancer cells at various stages. According to an experiment conducted in a test-tube, taro cells were able to stop the growth of some prostate and breast cancer cell lines, but not all of them.

Taro root contains a good amount of starch and dietary fibre. Doctors recommend a good intake of fibre to prevent cardiovascular and coronary diseases . Fibre plays an essential role in reducing LDL, which is bad cholesterol. The resistant starch found has taro root has multiple metabolic benefits. It decreases insulinemic responses, improves entire body insulin sensitivity, increase food satisfaction and reduces fat storage. Thus blood flow is efficient, without blockages, hence keeping heart healthy and functional.

Taro roots and other starchy crops play a vital role in increasing system immunity. They have numerous nutritional as well as health benefits. They are antioxidative, hypocholesterolemic, immunomodulatory, hypoglycemic and  antimicrobial. All these properties can be thankfully contributed to bioactive compounds present in taro, namely phenolic compounds, glycoalkaloids, saponins, phytic acids and bioactive proteins. Vitamin C present strengthens our body and protects the body against common illnesses like cold, cough, common flu, etc. The antioxidants nullify the free radicals in the body and prevent cell damage.

Taro roots contain resistant starch, which is usually the starch  that doesn't get digested properly in the small intestine and is passed to the large bowel. Resistant starch acts as a good substrate that facilitates fermentation and fatty acid production. It has a multitude of health benefits. Postprandial glycemic and insulin responses are reduced, plasma cholesterol and triglycerides are lowered and improves whole-body insulin level. Fat storage is reduced thus keeping the blood vessels free to function; there are minimal possibilities for blockages.

Vitamin A, vitamin E and antioxidants  are present in taro root, which promotes great skin. Both the vitamins and the antioxidants are known to rejuvenate the damaged cells and reduce wrinkles and blemishes on the skin. They can also fight any free radical damage and give healthy skin appearance. This is done by affecting intracellular signals passage, which are responsible for skin damage. Hence they provide functional protection from inflammation, photodamage or wrinkles.

Taro contains a good percentage of fibre. Consumption of fibre, soluble or insoluble, has been known to increase post-meal satisfaction and lessen hunger  cravings. This is because fibre prevents faecal matter from becoming sticky, and makes it into a lump, that moves around the bowel slowly, but easily. Dietary fibre helps us stay fuller for a longer time and thus consume fewer calories.

As taro is rich in  antioxidants. It naturally helps with the slow ageing process of the cells. Antioxidants repair the damaged cells and replace them with new cells, thus keeping the body youthful for a longer time. They can also fight against certain diseases, as well as offer UV rays protection.

Taro is a rich source of magnesium and vitamin E . Both have been known to boost metabolism and maintain normal muscle function. Magnesium in diet can notch the physical activity level. It can improve the gait speed, jumping performance, grip strength, etc. Vitamin E can prove effective to deal with muscle fatigue and contractile properties. Taro also contains carbohydrates which are essential for muscle recovery and energy post an intense session of workout.

Vitamin A as beta-carotene and cryptoxanthin are the major antioxidants in taro that improve eyesight and overall eye health. Vitamin A has been proved helpful in lubrication of dry eyes. It also reduces the risk of vision loss that can happen from macular degeneration. Vitamin A combined with lutein can help improve conditions for people with loss of peripheral vision .

Taro roots can be incorporated into the diet in multiple ways. Their thin strips can be baked and made into chips. When sliced into small pieces, they can be fried and paired with sriracha sauce. As they offer nutty taste with a mild hint of sweetness, they can be used to prepare taro root powder, and thus sprinkled over bubble tea, cold coffee, latte or muffins.

Taro can either be used in curry or just shallow fried with potato. It is also used in a famous Hawaiian dish called Poi where it is peeled and steamed, and later mashed to give it a smooth and creamy texture. The same taro root powder can also be used as a major ingredient for either baked cakes, pastries or frozen yoghurt and ice cream. This root is also available as flour in the market and can be used to make amazing pancakes.

Taro contains a lot of carbohydrates and starch. Starch  is usually broken down into glucose and converted to energy. Overconsumption of carbohydrates through taro would make the body store it as fat, and that can lead to weight gain.

Eating excessive amount of carbohydrates than required in a day, could increase the blood sugar level, thus putting us at high risk of diabetes. Also, it is preferable not to add many other ingredients like butter, sour cream and other fatty components to it, which can increase the calorie intake.
Hence, it is suggested to eat taro roots either as a side dish or as just one starchy meal in a day along with some vegetables. That keeps the meal balanced without making it too heavy on calories.

Some of the taro roots varieties  contain a tiny, crystal-like chemical, in its raw or uncooked form. This substance is called calcium oxalate and it acts as a natural pesticide. Eating raw or uncooked taro roots can break down these chemicals, and you might feel needle like sensations in the throat and mouth, thus causing extensive itching.

Consumption of oxalate can even lead to kidney stone formation in highly sensitive people. Thus cooking taro properly can easily prevent this. In the Hawaiian dish Poi, taro is thoroughly boiled before mashing it into pulp. The leaf is supposed to be boiled for 45 minutes and the corms for at least one hour, to destroy all the harmful toxins.

பனைமரம் - Panaimaram