CHENNAI: With a starchy texture and mildly nutty taste, colocasia or taro (seppankizhangu or arbi), is perhaps a not-so-fun-looking vegetable. But, who are we to body-shame this tuber that makes us happy as a healthier alternative to potato, especially when we are watching our weight?
Found in tropical and subtropical regions, especially in Africa and South East Asia, this root vegetable wears a brown-coloured fibrous exterior, the white nutrient-rich interior can be boiled, roasted, stirfried, braised, fried, or baked to prepare a variety of recipes.
“While it’s commonly prepared as a fried snack or savoury in many households, colocasia can also be consumed as poriyal and in kuzhambu to get the maximum benefit out of the vegetable,” says R Pitchiah, clinical nutritionist, Fortis Malar Hospital, as he walks us through its health and nutritional benefits.
Taro root has more than twice as much fibre as potatoes. Dietary fibre improves digestive function and can relieve issues like constipation, diarrhoea, stomach ulcers, and acid reflux. Because fibre moves slowly through the digestive system, it aids in healthy weight management.
Blood sugar management
The carbohydrate content in taro root is called resistantstarch. These good carbs have been shown in clinical studies to stabilise blood sugar, which helps with weight management and reduce the risk of diabetes.
There are high levels of potassium in taro root, a mineral that helps to control high blood pressure by breaking down excess salt. This reduces stress on your cardiovascular system, helping to prevent the development of chroni c heart problems.
Lowers risks associated with cancer
Taro root and its edible leaves are packed with antioxidants. Quercetin, which comes from the vegetable’s purple pigment, is a powerful antioxidant that protects your body from free radicals. These free radicals are molecules that build in your body due to ageing and erratic lifestyle and cause cell damage that scientists believe can lead to cancer.
Taro root is an excellent source of dietary fibre and good carbohydrates, which improve the function of your digestive system. The vegetable’s high levels of vitamin C, vitamin B6, and vitamin E also help to maintain a healthy immune system.
Taro root is low in calories. Serving sizes of one-half to one cup of taro root will add significant nutritional value to any meal.
How to use
Taro root should never be consumed raw. The vegetable contains a bitter-tasting compound called calcium oxalate. This can cause an itchy mouth and throat if consumed raw but is safe to eat when cooked. Choose a taro root based on what you want to use it for. Larger varieties have a stronger flavour while smaller roots add more moisture. A ready-to-eat root is firm, unblemished, and feels heavy for its size. To prepare taro root, use a knife to remove it’s thick peel under running water. This helps to avoid the stickiness from its starch content. Wear gloves to protect your hands against irritation caused by the uncooked calcium
Nutritional value per 100 g
- Protein: 4 g
- Fat: 0.2 g
- Fibre: 4.5 – 5 g
- Calorie: 380 g
- Carbohydrates: 17 g
- Vitamin C: 1.8 mg
- Potassium: 514 mg
RECIPE COLOCASIA PORIYAL
- Big onion: 1
- Curry leaves
- Turmeric powder: 1 tsp
- Chilli powder: 1 tsp
- Salt: a pinch
- Mustard seeds: 1 tsp
- Urad dal: 1 tsp
- Green chilli: 2
Clean and boil colocasia for two whistles.
Peel the skin and cut into slices.
Take a pan, add oil, urad dal, curry leaves, green chilli and mustard seeds.
Add onions and saute. Then, add colocasia.
Sprinkle turmeric, chilli powder and salt.