Nutritional Potential, Health and Food Security Benefits of Taro Colocasia Esculenta (L.): A Review

Melese Temesgen


The objective of this review was to present the nutritional values and other health and food security importance of taro as alternative food for developing countries. The term taro is used to refer to Colocasia esculenta (L.).  It is a family of Aracea cultivated for its edible corms. Taro is used as a staple food or subsistence food by millions of people in the developing countries in Asia, Africa and Central America. Taro has much importance in ensuring food security, in earning foreign currency as being a cash crop and also as a means for rural development. Nutritionally, Taro contains more than twice the carbohydrate content of potatoes and yield 135 kcals per 100 g. Taro contains about 11% protein on a dry weight basis. This is more than yam, cassava or sweet potato. Many authors also stated that the protein content of taro is higher than the other root crops in leaves and tuber respectively. It contains 85-87% starch on dry matter basis with small granules size of 3-18 µm and other nutrients such as minerals, Vitamin C, thiamin, riboflavin and niacin better than other cereals. Taro leaves, like higher plants, is rich in protein. The high protein content of the leaves favourably complements the high carbohydrate content of the tubers. In other parts of the world, the leaves of Colocasia esculenta have been reported to be rich in nutrients, including minerals such as calcium, phosphorus, iron, and vitamins like vitamin C, thiamine, riboflavin and niacin. High levels of dietary fibre in taro are also advantageous for their active role in the regulation of intestinal transit, increasing dietary bulk and faeces consistency due to their ability to absorb water. Most rural peoples suffer from malnutrition not because of the economic status but because of inability to utilize the available nutritious raw materials to meet their daily requirements. Now a day, zinc deficiency is widespread and affects the health and well-being of populations worldwide and since taro is one of the few non-animal sources of zinc, its utilization should therefore be pursued to help in the alleviation of zinc deficiency which is associated to stunting.

Keywords: Taro, nutrition, malnutrition, potential, health and food security

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