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Taro Root | Colocasia esculenta | Arbi | Poi | Nutrition And Health Benefits

Updated on March 23, 2016
rajan jolly profile image

Rajan is a botany and chemistry major. He has worked as a poultry breeder for 23 years breeding layer and broiler parents.

Arbi (Taro Root)

Arbi or Taro Root
Arbi or Taro Root | Source

About Taro | Arbi | Colocasia

Latin name : Colocasia esculenta

Taro has been called "The potato of the humid tropics".

Among the many other names for taro are dasheen, yantia, eddoe and gabi.

Taro refers to both the plant as well as the leaves, and more specifically, to the underground swollen stems called corms or rhizhomes that are edible and are cooked in several ways before eating.

Taro is an alkaline food despite its acidic pH, much like lemon or lime, as the alkaline (Na, K, Ca, Mg) forming elements exceed the acid forming elements (S, P, Cl).

An annual taro festival is held in Hawaii every April where children learn to pound the taro corms to prepare taro paste called Poi. Fresh taro harvested is gifted to friends and relatives on this occassion.

Taro is a major source of starch and one of the highest vegetable sources of energy.

Poi And How It Is Prepared

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Poi which is paste like in consistencyTraditional way of making Poi
Poi which is paste like in consistency
Poi which is paste like in consistency
Traditional way of making Poi
Traditional way of making Poi | Source

Taro Leaves

The Taro (Arbi) Pant

Taro is a tropical plant, a native to South India and Southeast Asia but is widely naturalized today. It is a perennial plant especially grown for its edible starchy roots though its leaves are also edible and are eaten as well as a vegetable.

Taro is believed to be one of the earliest of the cultivated plants. It needs abundant water and can even grow in flooded conditions.

The taro root has a rough and dark colored exterior that is covered by fibrous hairs. They are rich in oxalic acid which is the reason they should be either kept soaked in water overnight or boiled/cooked well to remove the oxalic acid before eating.

Colocasia or taro can be eaten baked, roasted, boiled or prepared into a vegetable. Taro has a slimy texture once it is boiled. Also, taro causes itching, irritation and burning sensation if handled or eaten raw.

In Western India, taro leaves are used to prepare a breakfast dish called 'Patra' or 'Patrode' which is prepared like fritters. In Maharastra state, a curry is made of these leaves.

The taro plant is a few feet in height with large heart shaped leaves that look much like the ears of an elephant. For this reason it is also called elephant ears.

The corm or the rhizome (root) can be round to oblong in shape with the brown fibrous skin being marked by circular rings. The flesh is generally white in color.

Taro is a root crop of primarily the tropical and sub tropical regions. Historically, taro has been a major dietary staple food on the islands of the Pacific esp Hawaii, New Zealand and West of Indonesia.

Different Varieties Of Taro

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Taro Varietytaro varietytaro varietytaro variety
Taro Variety
Taro Variety | Source
taro variety
taro variety | Source
taro variety
taro variety | Source
taro variety
taro variety | Source

Taro Varieties

Botanists today, considering the many names taro or colocasia is known by regionally , consider these different regional variations, as members of a very variable species of plant, the Colocasia esculenta.

The variety antiquorum is thus called eddoe or arbi and this is a much smaller corm weighing on an average less than 50 grams each, than taro which usually averages 2 to 4 pounds each.

The different regional names of taro are therefore based on regionally bred varieties of taro and therefore the physical characteristics of the plant varies quite a bit with respect to its height, leaf size and corm size.

Nutrients In Taro

  • A richer source of calories than potatoes though it is much lower in fat and protein than even cereals and pulses
  • Cholesterol free
  • Gluten free as well with good amounts of dietary fiber
  • the complex carbohydrates being slow to digest gradually increase the blood sugar thus being beneficial for those with high blood sugar
  • contains very good levels of beta carotene and beta cryptoxanthin.
  • taro leaves are exceptionally high in vitamin A and provide 161% of the vitam A needs per 100 grams
  • contains several minerals like copper, iron, manganese, zinc and magnesium in good amounts
  • low in sodium with good levels of potassium
  • high in Hyaluronic acid which helps in regeneration of cells

Taro Root | Arbi Vegetable Nutrition Values

(click column header to sort results)
Taro root (Colocasia esculenta (L.) schott), raw,  
Nutrition Value per 100 g,
(Source: USDA National Nutrient data base)
Nutrient Value
Percentage of RDA
112 Kcal
26.46 g
1.50 g
Total Fat
0.20 g
0 mg
Dietary Fiber
4.1 g
22 mcg
0.600 mg
Pantothenic acid
0.303 mg
0.283 mg
0.025 mg
0.095 mg
Vitamin A
76 IU
Vitamin C
4.5 mg
Vitamin E
2.38 mg
Vitamin K
11 mg
591 mg
43 mg
0.172 mg
0.55 mg
33 mg
0.383 mg
0.7 mcg
0.23 mg
35 mcg
0 mcg
20 mcg
0 mcg

Health Benefits Of Taro | Arbi

Since taro is a low glycemic index food it releases sugar slowly into the blood thus helping regulate blood sugar levels and prevent sugar level spikes that can be detrimental to diabetics. Ensuring consistent glucose levels over a longer period of time ensures energy for a longer time.

Taro leaves are extremely rich in vitamin A while the roots are rich in polyphenolic antioxidants, the beta cryptoxanthin and beta carotene. These help in maintaining vision health and preventing eye problems, and also protecting against cancer, heart disease and stroke.

Taro also lowers blood pressure and keeps the heart muscles healthy due to the excellent levels of magnesium and potassium it contains. Low fat and cholesterol keep the heart healthy as well.

Taro lowers the bad cholesterol. In fact, root crops have been found to lower bad cholesterol significantly because of their high dietary fiber content. The fiber also helps to lower risk of colon cancer.

Taro corms are a natural source of bioactive proteins that act as immunostimulators on the bone, marrow and spleen cells as noted in a study done on mice.

The good iron, folate and copper levels not only prevent anemia but also aid in supplying oxygen rich blood to all organs and systems.

The antioxidant vitamins A, C & E levels also ensure a healthier and glowing skin and mucous membranes, faster healing of wounds, prevention of premature skin wrinkling and aging, better hair health, reduction of dandruff and hair loss.

The dietary fiber keeps hunger at bay as it keeps the stomach fuller longer thus helping to maintain and even lose weight.

Taro is an excellent vegetable for the aged as it is easily digestible, provides an array of vitamins and minerals which help to prevent weakness and keep the elderly healthy and energetic. High fiber levels also ensure constipation is kept at bay.

How To Make Poi At Home

About Poi & Its Health Benefits

This article will not be complete unless the benefits of Poi, the major form of taro consumption in Hawaii, are mentioned here.

Studies on the medicinal uses of the Hawaiian dish Poi, which is a major form of taro consumption in Hawaii, indicate that it is easily and fully digestible mainly because of the smaller taro starch granule as Poi undergoes fermentation by yeast & lactic acid bacteria that are naturally found on the plant surface.

Not only this it also enhances in greater absorption of calcium and phosphorus minerals.

Poi is excellent for those with food allergies as it has a very low protein content and is therefore hypoallergenic. Poi is used as a food substitute even in infant allergies, substituting/replacing milk, eggs, peanuts, soy etc.

Poi, in fact, was found to not only effect weight gain in failure-to-thrive infants but also eliminate digestive disorders and associated problems. Along with its probiotic activity a unique blend of beneficial compounds Poi can benefit in many medical conditions like diarrhea, gastroenteritis, IBS, IBD and even cancer.

It improves lactose digestion, boosts the immune system, treats high cholesterol & liver damage due to alcohol intake and benefits in urogenital infections, celiac disease, autism and more...


As taro has a high oxalate content, it should avoided by those who have kidney issues like gout or stones.

Also, before consuming it either soak it overnight in water or boil/cook it. This will help reduce the oxalate content.


The information provided in this article is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Please consult your physician, or health care provider before taking any home remedies, supplements or starting a new health regime.

Tamatar Wali Arbi (Tomato Colocasia/Taro Vegetable) Recipe

Chilli Arbi Sabzi | Chilli Colocasia (Taro Root) Vegetable Recipe - In Hindi With English Subtitles

© 2016 Rajan Singh Jolly


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    • rajan jolly profile imageAUTHOR

      Rajan Singh Jolly 

      5 weeks ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

      RT, glad you like the information provided. Thank you.

    • rajan jolly profile imageAUTHOR

      Rajan Singh Jolly 

      5 weeks ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

      manatita, arbi or taro root is, in fact, dasheen. It is, of course, delicious when prepared nicely.

    • RTalloni profile image


      6 weeks ago from the short journey

      Glad to have learned this information, though I am as surprised as Peggy Woods about this plant's value. Thanks!

    • manatita44 profile image


      6 weeks ago from london

      I said that it looks like tania or dasheen, but in fact it is more like the one we call Arrow Root, very close to your Taro Root. Ha ha. It is very nice when well prepared.

    • rajan jolly profile imageAUTHOR

      Rajan Singh Jolly 

      6 weeks ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

      I am glad this article offered you some new information, Peggy. Thank you for reading.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      6 weeks ago from Houston, Texas

      I used to grow elephant ears in the yard of our former home but never knew that their roots were taro. I also never knew that the leaves were edible. Very interesting article regarding the uses of taro roots and their leaves along with their nutritional value. You are a great teacher when it comes to foods and such. Thanks!

    • rajan jolly profile imageAUTHOR

      Rajan Singh Jolly 

      2 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

      Paul, glad you like this unique textured but healthy veggie. Taro flaor icecream is new to me and I would certainly love to try it. Thanks for sharing the hub. I hope you are fully fit now. All the best to you.

    • Paul Kuehn profile image

      Paul Richard Kuehn 

      2 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand

      Rajan, Thanks for sharing another very informative food hub. We certainly have taro root in Thailand and I eat a lot of it. I love Poi and also enjoy tar0 flavored ice cream. I am sharing this hub with HP followers and on Facebook.

    • rajan jolly profile imageAUTHOR

      Rajan Singh Jolly 

      2 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

      Thanks Shaloo. I'm glad my hubs provide some unique information.

    • swalia profile image

      Shaloo Walia 

      2 years ago from India

      I didn't even know that arbi is called taro root! You come up with such unique information always.

    • rajan jolly profile imageAUTHOR

      Rajan Singh Jolly 

      2 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

      Thanks Devika.

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 

      2 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      The recipes are unique and an informative hub.

    • rajan jolly profile imageAUTHOR

      Rajan Singh Jolly 

      2 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

      @Audrey - thank you for reading the hub.

      @Denis - do try the other recipe too. Thanks.

      @manatita - yes, tania is closely related to the taro or dasheen and is prepared in much the same way. Thanks for stopping by.

      @Bill - it's been a learning and rewarding experience for me as well. Thank you.

      @Mary - I appreciate your comments. Thanks!

      @MsDora - good to hear that. I understand but sometimes we have to. Thanks.

    • rajan jolly profile imageAUTHOR

      Rajan Singh Jolly 

      2 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

      @Audrey - thank you for reading the hub.

      @Denis - do try the other recipe too. Thanks.

      @manatita - yes, tania is closely related to the taro or dasheen and is prepared in much the same way. Thanks for stopping by.

      @Bill - it's been a learning and rewarding experience for me as well. Thank you.

      @Mary - I appreciate your comments. Thanks!

      @MsDora - good to hear that. I understand but sometimes we have to. Thanks.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      2 years ago from The Caribbean

      As usual, your articles teach me that some of these items that I know (like this one) has nutrient benefits that I did not know previously. I don't particularly like this tara root, but based on the facts here, I'll eat it sometimes. Thanks!

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 

      2 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      After reading the health benefits of Taro, I will have it more often. It will be a good for potatoes.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I don't know how you have done with this series, but I've found it to be very informative and thank you!

    • manatita44 profile image


      2 years ago from london

      Nice Hub. We have this food in Grenada. I believe it is dasheen or tania. I'm always mixing them up. Used to eat it a lot and also dig it up as well with my grandpa.

      So much richness in our tropical foods! Awesome! Excellent Hub!

    • Denis Lubojanski profile image

      Denis Lubojanski 

      2 years ago from 7 Station Street, London

      Oh, I loved that last recipe so much. Great hub author.

    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 

      2 years ago from Idyllwild Ca.

      Thanks for all the information and nutritional value of taro root.


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