Taro (Scientific name: Colocasia esculenta) is a plant that is mainly grown in tropical and sub-tropical climates. It is native to Southeast Asia and Southern India. Taro cannot bear cold temperatures. Hence, its cultivation is limited to warmer temperatures. Both taro roots and taro leaves are edible and safe after they are cooked. In the raw state, they are reported to be toxic. Though Taro is primarily grown for its roots, even its leaves have a special importance, which many of us are unaware. So, today, we will list out some incredible health benefits of taro leaves.
Taro leaves are bright or deep green and are heart-shaped. If you love the taste of spinach, then you will like the flavor of taro leaves too. They have a subtle essence, giving out a satisfying nuttiness flavor with a healthy iron finish. The base of the taro leaves consists of veins, which branch from their stems. Both the stems and veins of taro plant have a red to purple hue, which is usually variegated.
Though the leaves of taro are extremely healthy, they are highly toxic in their raw state. So, never eat them unless they are cooked. When they are raw, they contain high levels of calcium oxalate. As you know, calcium oxalate is insoluble and causes kidney stones. However, this can be easily neutralized by cooking or soaking them overnight in cold water. If you are eating taro, it is important to consume some calcium-rich foods with it.
Fact: Based on the plant variety, the leaves of taro can reach more than 6 feet in height. According to scientists, there are about 87 taro varieties around the world. Since their leaves are big, they are often nicknamed as elephant’s ear and luau leaves.
Top 10 Health Benefits Of Taro Leaves
1. Healthy Digestive System
Once cooked, the leaves of taro are very easily digestible. Since they are rich in dietary fiber, they do a great help to the digestive system. The fiber in them increases the stools’ bulkiness and normalizes the bowel movements. Thus, it prevents some digestive problems like IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) and constipation. Besides this, there is an added benefit of taro’s natural fiber — it lessens the risk of colon cancer too.
2. Good For Eye Vision
The leaves of taro have enormous amounts of vitamin A, which is required to support different body functions even including eyes. They promote better eye health, assist in maintaining the vision acuity, and prevent different eye disorders like myopia, blindness, and cataract.
3. Cancer Prevention
By regularly consuming freshly cooked taro, one is sure to keep off dangerous disease like cancer. This is due to the presence of vitamin C in them. Vitamin C is a protective and powerful antioxidant that can prevent common ailments like cold, cough to even certain cancers. This vitamin is also required for the growth of strong connective tissues like tendons, cartilage, and ligaments. It improves the overall immunity level of the body, speeds the healing process of injuries, and assists in the synthesis of neurotransmitters & hormones.
4. Reduction Of High Cholesterol Levels
The leaves of taro have 0% cholesterol while their total fat contributes by only 1%. So, if you are someone, who is suffering from high cholesterol levels and desire to reduce naturally, then this is one of the best super foods to pick. The compound methionine and dietary fiber present in taro leaves lower the cholesterol efficiently by breaking the triglyceride down. Taro leaves based diet is the perfect way to stay healthy.
5. Healthy Heart
Taro has low levels of saturated fat, and that is the major reason why it is claimed to be a healthy food for the heart. The fiber content present in them stops the accretion of cholesterol and fat in the blood streams whereas the potassium assists in maintaining a normal blood pressure. It lowers the homocysteine levels in the blood and saves you from heart problems and strokes. So, if you don’t want to harden your arteries, make sure to consume this vegetable on a regular basis.
6. Strong Fetus Development
When a woman is pregnant, the one important vitamin that doctors prescribe is none other than folate. Happily, taro leaves are a good source of this vitamin. Folate is essential for a healthy fetus development. It prevents major birth imperfections like neural tube defects. Besides protecting the fetus, Folate is also necessary for the DNA synthesis and is claimed to be helpful in preventing colon cancer and rectal cancer.
7. Cell Protection
The leaves of taro contain enormous amounts of phenolic and carotenoid compounds, which tend to exhibit potent antioxidant properties. Both these chemical compounds help the body to fight free radicals and takes care of the cells from further damage and oxidative stress.
8. Great Food For Anemic
Iron is one of the indispensable minerals because it plays a very important role in the development of RBCs (Red Blood Corpuscles) and in the transportation of oxygen to various body parts. People, who are anemic, need to consume taro on a daily basis, as it not only fulfills the iron deficiency but also avoids fatigue, weakness, and tiredness.
9. Wrinkle Reducer
Taro is rich in an amino acid named threonine. This compound helps in the formation of collagen and elastin, both of which are vital for healthy skin. Hence, eating the vegetable on a regular basis prevents wrinkles and rejuvenates the skin at the same time.
10. Proper Electrolyte Balance In The Body
Potassium is one of the important minerals required by the body to function healthily. It breaks down and absorbs carbohydrates, builds muscles, controls the overall electrical activity of heart, maintains better acid-base balance, and promotes normal development of the body. Also, potassium is necessary for sustaining the body’s fluid and electrolyte balance. Since taro leaves are rich in potassium, regular consumption can supply the body with sufficient quantities of this mineral.
Nutritional Information Of Taro
Side Effects Of Taro Leaves
Every vegetable has its benefits and side effects. Hence, taro is no exception.
- Consuming taro in its raw state is toxic. It can also cause scratchiness in the throat and mouth.
- Applying the paste of taro leaves on severe open wounds can be dangerous.
- Eating taro without calcium-rich foods is never advised.
Taro leaves are extremely nutritious and contain numerous micro-nutrients in vast quantities. After reading the health benefits of taro leaves, it is clear that adding these evergreen leaves in your diet can improve your health & wellness.