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What is Malanga? 8 Health Benefits you should know about

There are almost no known risks of consuming Malanga as long as it’s cooked. And so to say, it’s full of nutrients and is a complex carb that’s high in fiber. Making it safe for both adults and children to eat.

On a clear note, you can even mash it for young children who are expanding their diet. However, the only exception is for people who need to lower the level of Potassium in their diet. This is important since these people have what’s known as hyperkalemia, or too much potassium in the blood.


Symptoms can include a slowed heart rate, weakness, and abnormal heart rhythm. So, malanga may not be a good option for these people. And while it’s an extremely healthy food, moderation is key.

Meaning that you should never rely on it for all your dietary needs. Instead, incorporate it into a well-balanced diet. But, the big question is, What is Malanga? Or even, How does it help our body?

What is Malanga?

Malanga is a root vegetable that’s commonly used in South America, Africa, and some tropical regions. It has a texture similar to potatoes and is often milled into flour that can be used for cooking.

But, unlike potatoes, however, it’s not from the nightshade family, which is a group of foods some people have to avoid for medical reasons. Malanga is a higher-fiber, more nutrient-dense option than a potato. Malanga is also similar to taro, which is another type of root vegetable.

Despite the fact that some stores sell them under the other’s name, the two are not the same. And of course, bot of them are from the same family (Araceae), but they belong to different genus groups.

Malanga has a hairy texture to its skin and has the shape of a longer, thinner potato. While Taro has lighter skin than malanga and is more bulb-shaped.

You can read and learn more about 7 Surprising Benefits of Taro Root.

What is the Nutritional Value of Malanga?

Malanga is nutrient-dense, low in fat, and contains fiber. It also provides vitamin C, riboflavin, thiamine, and iron while being used as a potato substitute.


Its flour can be used in place of regular all-purpose flour. One serving of cooked malanga equals one cup, without anything else added in. A boiled cup can provide over 7 grams (g) of fiber, depending on the type of malanga.

A serving contains approximately:
  • 132 calories, which is slightly high compared to other vegetables
  • .5 grams of fat
  • 32 grams of carbohydrates
  • 9 grams of fiber
  • 3 grams of protein

When selecting especially the Melissa Malanga, look for firm, well-formed tubers, free of blemishes. Simply, because it should be firm without any soft spots.

It is important also to store it whole in a cool, dark, dry place for up to one week. You can as well store peeled Malanga in the refrigerator but while wrapped in plastic.

How does it help our body?

Experts say that there are 50–60 different types of Xanthosoma. And as I earlier mentioned, the names Cocoyam – West Africa and Taro may refer to species that are similar to but not identical to malanga.

In the United States, for instance, it grows very well in Florida, where experts consider it an invasive species. And obviously, people have farmed this root vegetable for longer than they have farmed many other plants.

It currently grows in;
  • Africa,
  • South and Central America,
  • Southeast Asia,
  • the Pacific Islands,
  • and in New Zealand.

People also cultivate malanga, or Xanthosoma sagittifolium, for its tubers that are high in starch. Malanga is a versatile vegetable, and it is easy to grow.

For this reason, experts believe that it could play a role in providing a sustainable source of food in areas where food may be scarce among other more benefits like;

1. A good source of Vitamin A, C, and Antioxidants

Malanga contains Vitamins C and A, which are both Antioxidants. Antioxidants are important for helping the body eliminate free radicals.

To enumerate, free radicals are unstable molecules that occur in the body as a result of internal metabolic processes and outside influences. Such as smoking and pollution. If too many free radicals build up in the body, oxidative stress can result.

In the end, this can lead to cell damage and a range of health concerns. Not forgetting, antioxidants occur mainly in plant-based foods. And they appear to help the body eliminate free radicals.

In this way, they can reduce the risk of cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, vision loss, and cardiovascular problems.

You may check on more benefits and sources of antioxidants.

2. Has valuable B Vitamins and low on the Glycemic Index

Malanga contains a number of different B vitamins, including riboflavin and folate. Whereas, Riboflavin, also known as vitamin B-2, can improve energy levels. As well as, boost immune function, and improve the health of your skin, hair, and nails.

According to the National Institutes of Health, Riboflavin may also protect against migraines and cancer. While on the other hand, Folate helps the body convert carbohydrates into energy. It can even help protect the heart, hearing, and eyes.

And due to the higher fiber content of malanga, it is lower on the glycemic index than traditional potatoes. That means it does not spike your blood sugar as much, and it’s more filling.

So, it’s a slightly better alternative to potatoes (which have less fiber) for people with diabetes. Although the higher carb count should still be taken into account.

Read and learn more about the glycemic index.

3. It’s loaded with various Mineral Compounds 

Many researchers have overlooked specifically at the mineral benefits of malanga. But, one rodent study reported that, like many plant-based foods, it may be a source of mineral compounds.

Also, according to the USDA, a 142 g cup of boiled dasheen — a type of Xanthosoma sagittifolium is more likely to be recommended.

A serving provides approximately:
  • 90.1 g of water, 200 kilocalories, 7.24 g of fiber, and 0.7 g of protein.
  • 0.2 g of fat, 48.8 g of carbohydrates, including 0.7 g of sugar.
  • 25.6 milligrams (mg) of calcium, 1 mg of iron, and 42.6 mg of magnesium.
  • 108 mg of phosphorus, 683 mg of potassium, and 27 micrograms (mcg) of folate.
  • 0.5 mg of vitamin B-6, 7.1 mg of vitamin C, and 5.68 mcg of vitamin A.
  • 55.4 mcg of beta-carotene.

In addition, its root has been proven to be hypoallergenic, and an effective home remedy for acid reflux disease.

You can read and learn more about Minerals: Their Functions and Sources.

4. Is an allergy-friendly food (hypoallergenic)

Food allergies seem to be a growing problem in developed countries, and malanga is a food that doesn’t seem to cause allergic reactions in most people.

Since allergies and sensitivities to gluten are so common, a fantastic health benefit of malanga is that it is gluten-free. When made into flour, it’s a great alternative to wheat flour, which contains gluten.

So, since it’s gluten-free, it’s high in fiber and requires smaller amounts of stomach acids to digest. This is important for aiding in the relief of side effects experienced from digestive disorders.

Check more about What Does ‘Hypoallergenic’ Mean?

5. It helps improve cholesterol levels

Normally, people usually eat the tuber of the malanga plant either as breakfast or even take away snacks.

Authors of a 2013 rodent study found that the leaves of taioba, which is one type of malanga, are rich in fiber. In this study, rats consumed different types of high-fat diet. Those that ate the malanga leaf alongside fatty foods had significantly lower levels of total cholesterol than the others.

By the same token, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015–2020 suggest that adults consume around 28–33.6 g of fiber each day, depending on their age and sex. This suggests that the fiber contained within malanga can help manage cholesterol levels.

Indeed, there is evidence to suggest that a high fiber diet can improve cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.

So, Why do we need dietary fiber?

6. It regulates weight and controls diabetes

As we all know, obesity is a risk factor for type 2 diabetes and many other conditions.

However, dietary fiber may play a role in managing both weight and type 2 diabetes. In the 2013 rodent study, the rats that consumed malanga with their high-fat diet gained less weight than those that did not. This may be due to the fiber content.

A 2012 review of studies also found that a high fiber diet may help prevent weight gain. Therefore, adding malanga to the diet is one way to increase fiber intake.

Check ou the Different types of Diabetes Condition

7. It helps regulate blood pressure

In addition to antioxidants, vitamins, and fiber, a cup of cooked malanga provides 683 milligrams (mg) of potassium.

Some studies have found a link between dietary potassium intake and blood pressure. In 2013, for example, researchers found that people with a higher potassium intake appeared to have a significantly lower risk of high blood pressure.

This is important because high blood pressure increases the risk of heart disease and stroke. Potassium relaxes blood vessels, which reduces the workload of the heart to pump blood through the body.

Learn Why is Potassium important?

8. It’s a good source of complex Carbohydrates

Contrary to what plenty of dieting sites say, we actually need Carbohydrates. Carbs are essential for our bodies to create energy.

Malanga is a great source of complex carbs and so, eating it helps maintain blood sugar. While providing a consistent stream of energy instead of a crash soon after your meal.

After all, choosing nutrient-dense, complex carbohydrates can provide more sustainable energy. As well as, be more satiating, and have a lower impact on blood sugar.

Read and learn more about Carbohydrates Health Benefits and Risks to Your Body.

How do I cook Malanga?

Originally a rainforest species, malanga grows well in a wet and humid environment. And it’s a fast-growing herbaceous plant. Other names for it include cocoyam, yautia, tannia, and tanier. Edible tubers, or cormels, form in the soil at the base of the plant.

A large central tuber (corm) develops, with a cluster of cormels. These cormels are grayish brown to black lateral tubers, and they form around the corm. Bearing in mind, a tuber is a bulky storage part of the root. Not to mention, some people also eat the leaves.

But, the root tuber should only be eaten cooked, and how you cook it is up to you. It can be roasted, steamed, baked, and even mashed like mashed potatoes. With this in mind, if you’re ready to incorporate malanga into your diet, you can get started by trying the recipes below.

The recipes to consider includes:

Finally, I hope the above preview guide on Malanga was useful to your diet plan.

Please let’s know what you think about it in the comments section below this blog. And as for more additional links and related topics, please Contact Us and we will be happy to share with our readers.

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