Taro Leaves Nutrition Facts
The leafy green plant known as taro (Ipomoea batatas) grows wild throughout Japan and other parts of Asia. They are cultivated in many countries around the world including India, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines and Vietnam.
Taro is a member of the nightshade family which includes potatoes, tomatoes and eggplant. These plants have been used for centuries for their edible leaves and seeds.
In Japanese cuisine, taro leaves are often added to soups and stews. They are also commonly eaten raw or cooked with meat.
In fact, they make excellent snacks! The leaves contain high amounts of vitamin A, C and E. They also provide minerals such as iron, zinc and copper. The leaves have a low glycemic index meaning they don’t raise blood sugar levels too much when consumed regularly. They are also rich in potassium, magnesium and manganese.
Taro leaves are very good sources of fiber, protein and carbohydrates. They are also considered a good source of dietary fiber.
Fiber helps to slow down the absorption of sugar into your bloodstream, thus helping control weight gain. The leaves also contain high concentrations of antioxidants called flavonoids which may reduce risk factors for cancer and heart disease.
The main nutrients in taro leaves are:
Protein: taro leaves contain healthy amounts of protein which are found in most plant based foods. Protein is vital for the normal growth, repair and maintenance of muscle, bone and other tissues in the body.
Carbohydrates: carbohydrates provide the body with energy. Taro leaves are good sources of this nutrient and it also can help to regulate blood sugar levels.
Calcium: helps to promote healthy bones and teeth.
Iron: helps to prevent anaemia, which is a lack of red blood cells in the body or extreme fatigue.
Magnesium: this is important for bone health and helping to metabolize protein, fat and carbohydrate. Magnesium also helps to maintain normal heart rhythm.
Manganese: it is a co-factor for a number of enzymes and is helpful in the process of breaking down amino acids.
Potassium: helps to control the blood pressure and also normalizes heart rhythm.
Vitamin A: is an antioxidant that helps to boost the immune system, reduce the risk of certain types of cancer and maintain normal vision.
Vitamin C: this is vital for maintaining healthy cartilage, bones, teeth and gums. It also helps wounds heal faster.
Vitamin E: protects the cells from oxidative stress and reduces the risk of heart disease.
Zinc: helps to boost the immune system and reproductive health. It also promotes the normal development of bone, brain, eyes and the reproductive system.
Taro leaves are considered to be very good sources of dietary fiber. They also contain moderate amounts of many other essential nutrients.
Uses of Taro Leaves
The traditional use of taro leaves was as a food plant in Southeast Asia. The leaves are used mainly as a wrapping for meat, fish and rice.
The stem of the plant may also be eaten after cooking.
In Indonesia, taro leaves are used to wrap fish, which is then cooked in banana leaves to make “satem”.
In the Philippines, taro leaves are used to wrap rice and meat in a bundle called “Pinchitos” or “Sigarillas”. They also may be stuffed with a mixture of ground meats, chopped seafood, herbs and spices to make “Lumpia”.
In China, taro leaves are used in stir fries and soups.
Taro leaves are also used as wrappers for steamed dumplings called “Mandu” in Korea.
Taro leaves are also a popular leafy vegetable in many parts of Africa, Asia and the Pacific. They’re popular in Caribbean cooking, especially in Jamaican cooking where they’re used to make a spicy curry called “Callaloo”.
Taro leaves may also be eaten as a salad vegetable.
Because taro leaves contain high levels of oxalic acid, they should not be eaten in large quantities. They also contain small amounts of cyanide compounds so people with respiratory conditions such as asthma and emphysema should not eat them.
Taking taro leaves with pharmaceuticals that lower potassium levels in the blood can also cause death.
Some people may be allergic to taro leaves and experience itching and hives.
Sources & references used in this article:
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Tropical crop and crop by-product additives can improve the quality of taro leaf (Colocasia esculenta) silage by AJ Ash, R Elliott – The Journal of Agricultural Science, 1991 – cambridge.org