Actress Shailene Woodley isn’t afraid of trying out new health trends — like eating clay and drinking bone broth — but her latest wellness “find,” taro, is something almost everyone will like. The best part? There are even a ton of taro root recipes that fit in every meal of the day.
“I always feel like my Rolodex of newer, exotic foods is expanding,” she told Livestrong.
“When I was in Fiji filming [the movie Adrift], there was this plant called taro — it grows in lots of tropical landscapes in Hawaii and all over the world, and it’s really good for you. You can use the taro root and sort of cook it like a potato, or you can use the taro leaves and make creamed spinach dishes or swap it out for collard greens or kale in any dish, so that was my go-to nutrient booster in Fiji.”
Health Benefits of Taro Root
Woodley is right: The health benefits of taro root are far reaching.
The vegetable — native to Asian and African countries — is known for its hardiness and is similar in texture to a potato. It’s chock full of dietary fiber and carbs, along with vitamins and minerals, including vitamin A, vitamin C, Vitamin B6, vitamin E, and folate. There’s also plenty of iron, phosphorus, magnesium, and manganese.
“Taro also contains minerals like copper and zinc,” registered dietitian Isabel Smith told Eat This, Not That. “These are key for thyroid health. Meanwhile, manganese is part of an antioxidant pathway in the body, and there’s also potassium for your heart health.”
Unfortunately, protein isn’t one of the benefits of taro root — the amount is so low that you can’t really count it toward your daily protein needs.
How to Cook Taro Root
Here’s the bad news about taro root: It doesn’t taste good when its raw. So while it’s inedible in its natural state, it does bring a nutty (and slightly sweet) taste to dishes when cooked. There are three main methods for cooking taro root: boiling, baking or frying.
Many of the taro root recipes we’re featuring here called for soft, boiled taro root. To boil taro root, you need to:
- Clean the taro root under warm water.
- Peel with a vegetable peeler.
- Cut into small chunks.
- Add water to a saucepan, along with a pinch of salt.
- Place taro root chunks into the water and bring to a boil.
- Cook for 15 minutes and then prepare according to the taro root recipe.
Taro Root Recipes to Try
Not sure how to start experiencing the benefits of taro root? We’ve rounded up some of our favorite taro root recipes. This list is by no means an exhaustive list of everything you can do with the tuber, but it’s a good start!
Meagan Morris is the editor in chief of Celebribody. She's veteran health and wellness editor with over 15 years of experience. Her work has been featured in The Atlantic, Yahoo Health, Cosmopolitan, SELF, and Women's Health, among others. She spends most of her time writing, but her favorite part of the day is spent under a barbell doing squats.