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Taro (Colocasia esculenta) is a tropical plant widely grown in Southeast Asia and Southern India  . Taro root is a commonly eaten vegetable and its leaves can be cooked and eaten too. Both the root and leaves have a high nutritional value.
Taro leaves are heart-shaped and deep green in colour. They taste like spinach when cooked. The leaves have long stems which are cooked and eaten too.
Nutritional Value Of Colocasia Leaves (Taro Leaves)
100 g of raw taro leaves contain 85.66 g water and 42 kcal (energy). They also contain
- 4.98 g protein
- 0.74 g total lipid (fat)
- 6.70 g carbohydrates
- 3.7 g dietary fibre
- 3.01 sugar
- 107 mg calcium
- 2.25 mg iron
- 45 mg magnesium
- 60 mg phosphorus
- 648 mg potassium
- 3 mg sodium
- 0.41 mg zinc
- 52.0 mg vitamin C
- 0.209 mg thiamine
- 0.456 mg riboflavin
- 1.513 mg niacin
- 0.146 mg vitamin B6
- 126 µg folate
- 4825 IU vitamin A
- 2.02 mg vitamin E
- 108.6 µg vitamin K
Health Benefits Of Colocasia Leaves (Taro Leaves)
1. Prevent cancer
Taro leaves are an excellent source of vitamin C, a water-soluble antioxidant. This vitamin has potent anticancer effects which inhibit the growth of cancerous tumours and lower the progress of cancer cell proliferation. According to a study, consumption of taro can lower colon cancer rates  . Another study also showed the effectiveness of taro in reducing breast cancer cells  .
2. Promote eye health
Taro leaves are rich in vitamin A which is essential in keeping your eyes healthy, maintaining good vision and preventing age-related macular degeneration, a leading cause of vision loss. Vitamin A works by providing vitamins to the eye for the prevention of cataract and macular degeneration. It provides clear vision by maintaining a clear cornea.
3. Lower high blood pressure
Taro leaves can lower high blood pressure or hypertension due to the presence of saponins, tannins, carbohydrate and flavonoids. A study showed the effect of aqueous extract of Colocasia esculenta leaves evaluated for antihypertensive and acute diuretic activity in rats  . High blood pressure can lead to stroke, damaging the brain's blood vessels and blocking blood flow to the brain. It also causes ischemic heart disease. So, eating taro leaves will benefit your heart as well.
4. Strengthen immune system
As taro leaves have significant amounts of vitamin C, they help boost your immune system efficiently. Several cells, especially the t-cells and phagocytes of the immune system require vitamin C to function properly. If vitamin C is low in the body, the immune system is unable to fight against the pathogens  .
5. Prevent diabetes
Diabetes is a chronic disease that affects a large number of population. The antidiabetic activity of the ethanol extract of Colocasia esculenta was evaluated in diabetic rats which resulted in a decrease of blood glucose levels and prevented the loss of body weight  . Diabetes, if left untreated, can lead to kidney damage, nerve damage and heart disease.
6. Help in digestion
The taro leaves are known to aid in digestion and treat digestive problems because of the presence of dietary fibre which helps in better food digestion and absorption of nutrients. The leaves also support the growth of beneficial microbes such as Escherichia coli and Lactobacillus acidophilus which live peacefully in the intestines, helping in digestion and fighting against harmful microbes  .
7. Reduce inflammation
The leaves of the taro contain phenols, tannins, flavonoids, glycosides, sterols and triterpenoids which contain anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties which help in reducing chronic inflammation. The taro leaf extract possesses significant inhibitory effects on histamine and serotonin which are the preformed mediators involved in the initial phase of the acute inflammatory process  .
8. Protect the nervous system
The leaves of the taro contain vitamin B6, thiamine, niacin and riboflavin which are known to protect the nervous system. All of these nutrients aid in the proper development of the foetal brain and strengthening the nervous system. A study showed the effects of hydroalcoholic extract of Colocasia esculenta in obsessive compulsive disorder linked to central nervous system dysfunction  ,  .
9. Prevent anaemia
Anaemia is a condition which occurs when the body suffers a low haemoglobin count. Taro leaves have a significant amount of iron which aid in the formation of red blood cells. Also, the vitamin C content in taro leaves help in better iron absorption which further lowers the risk of anaemia  .
How To Eat Colocasia Leaves (Taro Leaves)
1. First, clean the leaves well and add them to boiling water.
2. Allow the leaves to boil for 10-15 minutes.
3. Drain the water and add the boiled leaves to your dishes.
Side Effects Of Taro Leaves
The leaves can cause an allergic reaction leading to itchiness, redness and irritation on the skin. The oxalate content in the leaves leads to the formation of calcium oxalate kidney stones. So, it's essential to boil them and eat instead of consuming them raw  ,  .
When Is The Best Time To Eat Taro Leaves
The best time to eat taro leaves is during the monsoon.
-  Prajapati, R., Kalariya, M., Umbarkar, R., Parmar, S., & Sheth, N. (2011). Colocasia esculenta: A potent indigenous plant.International Journal of Nutrition, Pharmacology, Neurological Diseases,1(2), 90.
-  Brown, A. C., Reitzenstein, J. E., Liu, J., & Jadus, M. R. (2005). The anti‐cancer effects of poi (Colocasia esculenta) on colonic adenocarcinoma cells in vitro.Phytotherapy Research: An International Journal Devoted to Pharmacological and Toxicological Evaluation of Natural Product Derivatives,19(9), 767-771.
-  Kundu, N., Campbell, P., Hampton, B., Lin, C. Y., Ma, X., Ambulos, N., Zhao, X. F., Goloubeva, O., Holt, D., … Fulton, A. M. (2012). Antimetastatic activity isolated from Colocasia esculenta (taro).Anti-cancer drugs,23(2), 200-11.
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