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Arracacha – Properties, Benefits, Nutritional Value, Origin, Flavor

February 3, 2023
Arracacha - Properties, Benefits

Find out below what are arracachas, what are their types, characteristics, properties and benefits. Also discover what is the best way to take advantage of all its nutrients, possible contraindications, as well as other curious facts about this member of the tuber family .

What is arracacha?

The arracacha, arracache, arrecate, criollo celery or white carrot ( Arracacia xanthorrhiza ) is a South American root tuber (native to the Andes) that resembles parsnip or parsnip . It is a member of the “umbelliferous” plant family, like carrots , celery, turnip , parsnip, and parsley.

There are varieties of arracacha with yellow, orange and white flesh, however around 70% of the varieties have white flesh. Its flavor is similar to a cross between carrot and celery, and it is used in cooking as a starchy vegetable to add to soups, purees, stews, fritters, and fillings to wrap tortillas.

Characteristics and data of interest

  • The leaves and stems of the arracacha are also edible,  although they are more often used to feed animals. The appearance of these leaves is very similar to the celery leaf,
  • Arracacha plants produce a cluster of roots, similar to carrots, that can weigh more than two pounds (1 kg) each.
  • The roots are typically white to yellow in color, with a purple ring on the flesh.
  • This tuber is eaten cooked; its flavor is a very smooth and aromatic combination of potato, carrot and celery .
  • The cultivation of the arracacha is done by planting the tubers themselves.
  • It is commercially cultivated in the southeast of Brazil, in Colombia, Ecuador, Venezuela, Costa Rica and Puerto Rico; it can usually be found in most supermarkets in those countries.

Nutritional properties of arracacha

Arracacha is an energetic and easily digestible food , rich in vitamins (vitamin C and vitamin B3) and minerals such as iron, magnesium, thiamine and phosphorus. It is also a source of protein and dietary fiber.

The high caloric content of arracacha makes it a very beneficial food for communities where food is scarce. With a maximum yield of 6.6 pounds (3 kg), a single arracacha plant can provide up to 3,270 calories .

Arracacha nutritional table (100g, cooked):

  • Calories: 109
  • Grease: 0.2 g
  • Cholesterol: 0 mg
  • Sodio: 0 mg
  • Potasio: 0 mg
  • Carbohydrates: 25 g
  • Dietary fiber: 0.8 g
  • Azúcar: 0 g
  • Protein: 1.2 g
  • Thiamine (Vitamin B1): 4%
  • Vitamin C: 46%
  • Calcium: 3%
  • Iron 6.7%
  • Niacin (Vitamin B3): 17%

What is arracacha for? Benefits and uses

The properties and nutritional value of this tuber provide several benefits for human health, for example:

  1. Helps in the treatment of chronic conditions. The iron content of arracacha helps to treat several chronic diseases of the excretory and intestinal system, and prevents anemia in patients with kidney failure or iron deficiency. On the other hand, iron is essential to maintain the proper functioning of the circulatory system.1
  2. It is healthy during pregnancy. The lack of iron during pregnancy increases the chances of having a premature baby, with low birth weight, with problems in its cognitive development and delayed growth. Some studies have shown that consuming arracacha, among other foods high in iron, reduces this risk by 8.4%.2
  3. Helps prevent cardiovascular diseases. Arracacha contains vitamin B3, a nutrient that helps maintain a healthy balance between triglyceride and cholesterol levels; This has a positive effect on heart health and reduces the risk of developing atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries that leads to heart disease). This vitamin also reduces inflammation in the body and improves blood circulation. Research shows that vitamin B3 reduces the likelihood of a heart attack or arrest recurrence in people who have already experienced it.3 Arracacha also contains vitamin B1, which helps in the production of neurotransmitters and improves heart function.4
  4. Improves the health of the digestive system and body tissues. Vitamin B3 deficiency is associated with the development of digestive problems, muscle weakness, or skin irritation. It is recommended that people with these problems consume arracacha and other foods high in vitamin B3 regularly.5
  5. Helps prevent gout. Some studies report that regular intake of vitamin C reduces the risk of gout by 31%. This is a condition characterized by inflammation and stiffness in the joints due to excess uric acid. Thanks to its high content of vitamin C, arracacha can be a very beneficial food in that sense.6
  6. Helps prevent cancer. Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables can prevent the development of various types of cancer. Studies have been conducted showing that antioxidants, such as vitamin C, reduce the risk of oral and vocal cord cancer, lung, rectal, throat, colon, stomach and esophagus cancer.7
  7. Improves mood. The vitamin B1 present in arracacha helps increase energy levels, acts as an anti-depressant and improves mood. It also has a positive effect on the brain, eliminating inflammation, promoting healthy nerves, and maintaining brain functions.8
  8. Helps with good digestion. In South America, arracacha puree is considered an excellent food for babies due to its digestive properties. It is a good source of calcium, starch, vitamins A, C, and iron.

How to consume arracacha?

The uses of arracache are very similar to those of the potato . This tuber is used to make various types of dishes, including soups, stews, meatballs, cakes, gnocchi, purees, and garnishes . Arracacha adds a special flavor and color to dishes.

On the other hand, the young stems of the plant can be eaten raw in salads or cooked as green vegetables.

Here is the recipe for a delicious arracacha soup that you can make at home:

Contraindications and side effects

So far there is not enough research on the possible side effects of arracacha, however these are the main contraindications to consider before including it in your regular diet:

  • Allergic people . As with most plants and vegetables, some people may develop an allergy and irritation to the compounds in arracacha.
  • People who are overweight or obese . Taking into account that the caloric intake of this tuber is significant, its excessive consumption is not recommended in people who are overweight or obese, especially if they maintain a sedentary lifestyle. Likewise, those who suffer from diabetes should eat it in moderation.
  • Pregnant women . Although this is a safe and healthy food during pregnancy thanks to its iron content, pregnant women should not abuse its consumption. This could lead to excess iron in the blood and certain complications, such as glucose intolerance and gestational diabetes.9 10

When eaten in large portions or too frequently, arracacha can cause stomach discomfort , such as diarrhea, stomach pain, bloating, etc.

Frequent questions

Does the arracacha get fat?

Arracacha is a starchy root with a high energy content (more than 100 calories in 100g), so it is probably not the ideal tuber for weight loss. In fact, it is a crop based on subsistence agriculture, where calories are very important. With a maximum yield of 6.6 pounds (3 kg), a single arracacha plant can provide up to 3,270 calories.

Its consumption is more recommended for people who have great physical activity. It is very likely that a sedentary person will gain weight if they consume too much arracacha, so if you do not want to gain weight, it is best to consume it in moderation.

How to store arracacha?

The optimal storage temperature for arracacha roots is 10 ° C. This allows the tuber to be  stored for 28 days without noticing deterioration in the quality of the product. Arracacha roots should not be washed, as this can reduce their lifespan.

What is the origin of the arracacha?

The arracacha is believed to be native to Ecuador and that during pre-Hispanic times it was a staple food for Andean civilizations. Today it is one of the most successful Andean tubers and is widely grown outside the Andes, in countries like Brazil, Cuba, and Puerto Rico.

What is the arracacha plant like?

The plant can reach up to 91 cm in height and approximately the same length in width. The stem of the arracacha is green and smooth, with purple veins.

Its leaves measure 10 and 20 cm, very similar to parsley leaves.

The roots of the arracacha  have a smooth and shiny skin; They are robust and white in color, with an almost identical appearance to the carrot. The internal color of the tuber can vary between white, yellow and purple.

How is arracacha grown?

Traditional cultivation is done by planting the shoots or deviations that grow from the main tubers , however arracacha plants can also be easily grown through seeds.

The arracacha can be planted at any time of the year, but it is generally planted during the beginning of spring to take advantage of the first rains. Harvesting of edible tubers takes place between 300 and 400 days after sowing.

What does arracacha taste like?

Cooked arracacha is soft, slightly sticky, extremely dense, and tastes similar to the combination of carrot, potato, and celery.

The stems and leaves of the plant are also edible and taste similar to celery.

What other names does it have?

This tuber is known by different names depending on the region of South America and Central America:

  • In Venezuela: celery, celery criollo or racacha
  • In Brazil: dioquinha or batata-baroa
  • In Peru, Colombia: arracacha, virraca
  • In Costa Rica: arracache
  • In Ecuador: white carrot

Other names may be afió, Peruvian carrot, and small yucca. Its scientific name is Arracacia xanthorrhiza.

References:

  1. http://www.ajkd.org/article/0272-6386(95)90649-5/abstract
  2. https://draxe.com/iron-deficiency/
  3. https://heartandhealthinst.com/hl/?/26273/vitamina-B1
  4. https://www.organicfacts.net/health-benefits/vitamins/vitamin-b3-or-niacin.html
  5. https://draxe.com/vitamin-c-foods/
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25441227
  7. http://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/29/5/1077.full

My name is Louise Hammond, and I am the creator of this website, a place to find information about tubers, bulbs and medicinal roots. In Dreamsship.com I show the properties, benefits, characteristics, photos and images, ways of growing and how to make delicious meals from starchy vegetables.