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Malanga (Taro) – Properties, Benefits, Origin and More

February 3, 2023
Malanga (Taro) - Properties, Benefits, Origin and More

If you are a root vegetable lover, you will love trying and knowing a little more about Malanga (Taro). I invite you to continue reading to know the characteristics, nutritional properties, health benefits, consumption options, as well as the most frequently asked questions about taro or taro.

Malanga (Taro)

What is taro or Malanga (Taro)?

Taro root, also known as taro, is an edible tuber native to tropical regions; It is prevalent in the Caribbean, Polynesian, and African cuisine. It is usually the size of a turnip but with an oblong shape, fibrous and brown skin (sometimes hairy).

Taro meat is usually white or cream in color, although there are varieties that have purple spots. It is usually cooked and consumed the same way as potatoes, but taro has a more knotty and knotty flavor, similar to water chestnuts.

Characteristics and data of interest


  • Taro is believed to have arisen in southern Central Asia, slowly spreading around the world. Already by 100 BC, it was cultivated in China and Egypt.
  • According to a Hawaiian legend, the taro was a child turned into a plant that helped create the human race.
  • This plant rarely flowers and its planting depends on the roots, reflecting its high degree of domestication.
  • Taro roots contain calcium oxalate, a toxic substance capable of irritating the mouth and throat. This toxicity is eliminated once the tuber has been cooked. Taro cannot be eaten raw, and it must always be cooked.
  • It is botanically classified as Colocasia esculenta, with eight recognized varieties, including C. esculenta var. antiquorum and C. esculenta var. esculent. The Colocasia esculenta variety is the most widely cultivated type of taro.
  • Many nutritionists believe that this tuber has a better nutritional profile than rice and potatoes.

Types of Malanga (Taro)

In general, there are two types of taro:

  • White taro (Xanthosoma sagittifolium) is the most popular taro variety in Central and South America, and as its name suggests, it has white flesh. Depending on the place, this malanga is also known as bore, camacho, chonque, macabo, mafafa, mangareto or mangarito, mangará-mirim or mangarás, occupy, elephant ear, rascadera, taioba, yaro, tiquisque and yautía.
  • Yellow taro (Colocasia esculenta): This variety is popular in West Africa, China, Polynesia, the islands of the Indian Ocean, and the Antilles, although it is also widely consumed in Central and South America. Unlike the white variety, it has the flesh of a yellowish hue. Depending on the place, taro is also known as island malanga, kalo, cará, yautía coco, bituca, pituca, onkucha, unkucha, Chinese occupy, otoe, papa balusa, madumbe, edoy torán.

Both types of taro are edible and taste similar; They are widely used to prepare soups, stews, roasts, fried foods, purees, sweets, pieces of bread, and cookies.

Nutritional properties of Malanga (Taro)

Nutritional properties of Malanga

Taro is rich in organic compounds, minerals, and vitamins that can benefit our health in various ways. It contains significant dietary fiber, carbohydrates, vitamin A, C, E, vitamin B6, and folic acid, magnesium, iron, zinc, phosphorus, potassium, manganese, and copper.

Nutritional information for taro (100 g) 1:

  • Calories: 142
  • Grease: 0.1 g
  • Cholesterol 0 mg
  • Sodio 0,15 mg (1%)
  • Carbohydrates: 34.6 g (12%)
  • Dietary fiber 5.1 g (20%)
  • Azúcar: 0.5 g
  • Protein: 0.5 g (1%)
  • Vitamin A: 2%
  • Vitamin C: 8%
  • Calcium: 2%
  • Iron: 4%

What is taro for? Benefits and uses

  • Promotes good digestive health. One of the most important benefits of taro is its effect on digestion. The high level of dietary fiber in this root increases stool bulk. It promotes regular bowel movements, preventing digestive problems such as excess gas, bloating, stomach cramps, constipation, and even diarrhea.2  It is also an excellent food for people suffering from gastritis and stomach ulcers.
  • Helps prevent cancer. The high levels of vitamin A, C, and other phenolic antioxidants found in this tuber stimulate the immune system and fight the action of free radicals in the body. Free radicals are by-products of cellular metabolism that can cause healthy cells to mutate and turn into cancer cells. Cryptoxanthin, an antioxidant pigment found in taro root, is directly linked to a lower chance of developing lung cancer and oral cancer.3
  • Helps prevent and control diabetes. Dietary fiber is an essential nutrient for counteracting diabetes, as it regulates glucose spikes and the release of insulin in the body.4  Abundant in fiber, taro can become a strategic food for those who need to control or prevent blood sugar spikes because they have pre-diabetes or diabetes.
  • Supports heart health. Taro contains a significant level of potassium, another essential nutrient for staying healthy and functional. Potassium facilitates the healthy transfer of fluids between membranes and tissues throughout the body and helps relieve stress and pressure on blood vessels and arteries. By reducing blood pressure, you minimize stress on the overall cardiovascular system.5
  • Promotes eye health. The beta-carotene and cryptoxanthin present in taro are antioxidants that help improve vision; both prevent free radicals from damaging eye cells and causing macular degeneration or cataracts.
  • Helps protect the skin. Vitamin E and vitamin A, abundant in taro, help us to have healthier skin.6 Both vitamins are essential for our body and are involved in wound healing, wrinkle prevention, and recovery of the brightness and uniform tone of the skin.
  • Stimulates the immune system. Its contribution of vitamin C strengthens the immune system by creating new white blood cells; These cells are responsible for defending the body from pathogens, infections, and foreign agents. Vitamin C also acts as an antioxidant and prevents the development of conditions such as heart disease and cancer.7
  • Fight anemia. Iron and copper are essential minerals for producing red blood cells in the body, that is, the cells that carry oxygen through the blood. Being abundant in these two nutrients, regular consumption of taro reduces the risk of developing anemia (due to iron deficiency), increases blood flow, increases metabolic activity, the growth of new cells, the general oxygenation of the body, and helps organs and systems function optimally.

How to consume Malanga?

It can be prepared in a very similar way to potatoes. It is usually consumed boiled in chunks or pureed, but it can also be baked in thick slices or fried in thin slices as if they were chips.

Another tasty way to consume taro is to add it to soups and stews, as it combines very well with other vegetables and meats. In some regions, taro-based desserts are even made, and infusions are made with their leaves.

Never try to eat taro roots or leaves raw. This plant contains calcium oxalate crystals, similar to microscopic needles, which can cause extreme irritation in the throat.

Malanga fritters recipe:

Quick answers to frequently asked questions

Does taro make you fat?

The glycemic index of taro (taro) is relatively low compared to other tubers; its breakdown into glucose occurs very slowly, especially due to its high fiber content. This makes it a good food for people who need to regulate their blood sugar levels or are looking for a constant energy source over time.

However, taro is rich in carbohydrates. Hence its excessive consumption can cause long-term weight gain. It is better to consume it in moderation, according to the real energy needs.

How to store taro?

Taro roots, or taro, should be kept in the dark, cool place with good ventilation. Under these conditions, it can last up to 2 weeks. It is not recommended to store it in plastic bags or the refrigerator.

What is the origin of taro or taro?

The origin of taro dates back to ancient times, as Greek and Roman’s historians have described it as an important crop; It is known that as early as 100 BC, it was cultivated in China and Egypt.

Apparently, it originated in southern Central Asia, in  ​​present-day Malaysia, from where it spread to the tropical regions of the world in the hands of explorers and traders.

Today taro is widely cultivated in the Caribbean, Hawaii, tropical Africa, and China. It is said that more than 10% of the world’s population uses some variety of taro as a staple food. It is a very appreciated tuber and used in kitchens all over the world.

What is the taro plant like?

The taro plant, commonly called “elephant ears,” has large leaves, which can measure up to 40 cm in length and 20 cm in width; They are dark green on the top, light green on the bottom, and their shape resembles the ears of an elephant. Each leaf is attached to the root of the plant by a long and robust stem.

Typically this plant grows 1 m tall and covers the same width. Its lily-like flowers are yellowish-white. However, its presence is not very common. The cultivation of the plant depends on the roots for its propagation, which reflects the high degree of domestication of taro.

The root or tuber is generally the size of a turnip, but its shape is oblong. It has brown skin and a fibrous texture, sometimes hairy. Freshly cut tuber meat is usually white or cream in color.

How is taro grown?

The taro plant is grown for its tubers, which can be obtained from nurseries or grocery stores. Place the tuber in an area of ​​the garden with rich, moist, well-drained soil; It is recommended to sow 15 cm deep and cover with 5 cm of soil, leaving a space of 50 cm in case of sowing several roots. Keep the soil consistently moist.

Taro tubers will be ready for harvest in about 200 days. Just gently lift them out of the ground with a garden fork. The leaves can be collected as soon as they have been opened, being careful not to cut them all.

What does taro taste like?

The taste of taro or taro is unique, although it can be described as similar to potato with a knotty and knotty touch.

What other names does it have?

Other common names for taro are kalo (Hawaiian), cará (Brazil), yautía coco (Dominican Republic), malanga (Puerto Rico, Guatemala, Mexico, Honduras, Spain and Cuba), bituca, pituca, onkucha or unkucha (Peru), malanga or quiquisque (Nicaragua), yam (Canary Islands, Colombia and Costa Rica), Chinese occupation (Venezuela), madumbe, otoe (Panama), edo or malanga (rest of Europe) and Chinese potato (Ecuador). Its scientific name is Colocasia esculenta.

The white malanga is also known as aro, bore, camacho, chonque, macabo, mafafa, mangareto or mangarito, mangará-mirim or mangarás, occupation, white occupation, elephant ear, rascadera, taioba, yaro, tiquisque and yautía. Its scientific name is Xanthosoma sagittifolium.



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 I show the properties, benefits, characteristics, photos and images, ways of growing and how to make delicious meals from starchy vegetables.