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What Is Malanga? 8 Key Health Benefits You Should Know About

There’re almost no known risks of consuming Malanga as long as it’s cooked. 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 — the only exception is for people who need to lower their Potassium levels.

Especially, if they are observing some measures in their daily dietary plan. 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.

But, 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. Obviously, most people have farmed this root vegetable for longer than they have farmed many other plants. It currently grows in Africa, and South and Central America.

As well as Southeast Asia, the Pacific Islands, and in New Zealand. People also cultivate malanga, or Xanthosoma sagittifolium, for its tubers that are high in starch. But, the big question is, what is Malanga? Or even, how does it help our overall body health and wellness really? Well, let’s have a look at it in detail below, shall we?

What Malanga Is All About

Also called Yautia, Dasheen, or Cocoyam in English, Malanga is a starchy root vegetable that’s commonly used in South America, Africa, Caribbean cuisines, and some other tropical regions. It has a texture similar to potatoes and is often milled into flour that can be used for cooking. The taste is unlike most tubers or roots, but its texture is similar to that of a Yuca so to say.

Eventually, this makes Malanga versatile enough to be prepared using a variety of cooking methods, like baked, mashed, boiled, or fried. Moving on, the corms and leaves of all three species must be cooked. They can’t be eaten raw for they contain Calcium Oxalate.  Perse, Calcium Oxalate is the same chemical compound that makes rhubarb leaves inedible.

But, cooking and steeping them in water eliminates the chemical. Other similar substitute plants include Satoimo, Yuca root, Jicama, Shoestring potatoes, etc. 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.

Relevant Resource: The Ultimate Guide To Working Out From Home

Malanga is also similar to taro, which is another type of root vegetable. Taro root is a starchy root vegetable originally cultivated in Asia but now all around the world. And just like Malanga, Taro has brown outer skin and white flesh with purple specks throughout. When cooked, it has a mildly sweet taste and a texture similar to a potato.

Despite the fact that some stores sell them under the other’s name, the two are not the same. And of course, both 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.

Taro is quite difficult to handle as it makes the skin terribly itchy. This is caused due to the presence of Calcium Oxalate in the plant. To prevent itchiness, people apply generous amounts of mustard oil to their hands before cutting the vegetable. So, is malanga really good for you? Yes, malanga is an excellent source of fiber, potassium, and B vitamins.

Related Resource: What Is A Gluten-Free Diet & Who Should Consider Taking It?

The high fiber content means it is low on the glycemic index. Malanga will not spike your blood sugar. It contains vitamin B2, also known as riboflavin which boosts immune systems and energy levels. It contains vitamin B9, also known as folate, which helps convert carbohydrates into energy.

Realistically, Malanga Root is also an outstanding alternative to potatoes. Whilst, bearing in mind, that potatoes are part of the nightshade family. Some people can not eat nightshade foods for medical reasons such as inflammatory bowel disease and joint inflammation. Surprisingly, Malanga does not belong to the nightshade family.

The Topmost Notable Malanga Nutritional Values + Benefits

Talking about its taste, Malanga has an earthy nut-like taste. The flavor is unique to any of the other tubers. Despite looking like a potato or sweet potato, it does not taste like yam or sweet potato. Mashed malanga paired with bistec encebollado is a fantastic way to bring out the flavor profile of malanga.

It’s nutrient-dense, low in fat, and contains fiber. It also provides vitamin C, riboflavin, thiamine, and iron while being used as a potato substitute. It has a relatively low glycemic index of 50 compared to potatoes, thus, it breaks down into sugars. All this slowly, while making it a great food source for diabetics. It’s also known to be quite low in fat.

Whereby, one cup only contains 1 gram of fat. This means, that it’s totally unsaturated fat which is very healthy for human consumption. It’s also quite high in fiber content. This, as a result, promotes regular bowel movements, preventing digestive problems such as excess gas, bloating, stomach cramps, constipation, and even diarrhea.

Equally important, its high 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. On that note, this may be due to the fiber content. 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. Basically, a serving contains a variety of other useful compounds.

A serving contains approximately:
  • 132 Calories (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 while wrapped in plastic.

How This Cocoyam Helps Our Overall Body Wellness

Of course, most of us love tropical starches like Malanga, Taro, Yuca, and Plantains. Potatoes are excluded from the Autoimmune Paleo Protocol because they are nightshades. And, as such, most people recommend sweet potatoes as a starchy substitute for potatoes. On that note, have a look at the main nightshade-free potato substitutes in detail.

The Malanga suitable for consumption should be firm without any soft spots. Store whole in a cool, dark, dry place for up to one week. And, as we aforementioned, Malanga (1 serving) contains 0g total carbs, 0g net carbs, 0g fat, 0g protein, and 32 calories. Notably, it’s given to patients suffering from stomach ulcers as it coats the lining of the stomach.

Experts say that there are 50–60 different types of Xanthosoma. And as we 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. After all, this is also where experts consider it an invasive species.

Be that as it may, you can go here for more information about how malanga is one of the most hypoallergenic foods globally and contains other health benefits.

Differentiating Between Malanga Root Vs Taro Root

So, are Malanga and Taro the same thing? No, Malanga and Taro are not the same things. Some grocery stores in the United States label them interchangeably, but they shouldn’t be. On one hand, Malanga is botanically known as Xanthosoma sagittifolium. While, on the other hand, Taro is botanically known as Colocasia esculenta.

Malanga is longer and tubular-shaped, similar to a sweet potato. While Taro is more bulb-shaped, similar to a potato. Equally important, Malanga has brown fuzzy bark-like skin, and taro has brown skin but is a little more smooth. Malanga is white on the inside, while taro can be white or cream with purple specs.

Differentiating Between Malanga Root Vs Taro Root

Forthwith, just like we mentioned earlier, Malanga is called by other names such as Cocoyam and Yautia in South America. It’s known as Tannia in the Dominican Republic. In the Bahamas, it is called Taniera. Similarly, Taro is called Dasheen in the Caribbean, while in Egypt, it is called Culcas. In Japan, it is called Satoimo.

In Hawaii, where it is the most popular in the United States, Taro is called Kalo. In Africa, where it is the main staple, it is called Cocoyam. Overall, 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.  Particularly, in areas where food may be scarce among other benefits like:

1. A Good Source Of Vitamin A, C, And Antioxidants

Malanga contains Vitamins C and A, which are both Antioxidants (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 Is 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 

A 1/3-cup serving of cooked malanga contains 70 calories, along with 3 grams of fiber and 1 gram of protein. The same serving of boiled potato will provide you with 45 calories and 1 gram each of fiber and protein. Its leaves and stems contain Calcium Oxalate, but not as much as in Spinach. The leaf is 27% protein, high in Vitamin C, and rich in Calcium and Iron.

As well as Phosphorus, Potassium, and Manganese. Many researchers have overlooked specifically the mineral benefits of malanga. 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 of value.

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 in full detail as well.

4. It’s 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 by digestive disorders. With that in mind, you can also check more about a related answer to What Does ‘Hypoallergenic’ Mean? in an elaborate definitive guideline.

5. It Helps Improve Cholesterol Levels

Normally, people usually eat the tuber of the malanga plant either as breakfast or even as takeaway 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 diets through a controlled experiment.

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? Well, you can read and learn more here in detail.

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 out this guide on Different Types of Diabetes that has more elaborate and definitive guides.

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. The potassium in it reduces blood pressure which reduces the workload of the heart to pump blood through the body. Learn why Potassium is important to your body in detail.

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 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. Learn more about carbohydrates’ health benefits and risks to the body in detail.

How Do You Consume Malanga?

Malanga can be enjoyed in many different ways. Most important, always cook malanga, and never eat it raw. It can be boiled for mashed malangas, like the very first time I had it. Prepare it like mashed potatoes and add milk and butter or beef broth and olive oil with salt to taste and serve with bistec encebollado. It can even be roasted over a mesh just like meat.

Most of us like to use it and potatoes when making Pollo Asado here at our offices. Not to mention, you can even add it to soups like ropa vieja soup or ajiaco. However, when boiling in soups, it can be overcooked, and it will disintegrate and act as a thickener. Essentially, it can be peeled and cut into thin slices and made into malanga chips.

In addition, it can even be grated and used to make frituras (fritters) that are sweet or savory. And now, just as we mentioned earlier, Malanga is hypoallergenic and can be dried and ground into flour. If you are intolerant to wheat or gluten, it is an excellent substitute for wheat flour. Once you bring it home from the store, fresh malanga should be stored in a cool, dry place.

And, at room temperature, but not below 45 degrees. Also, once peeled, it should be refrigerated and used the next day. We are quite sure: Next time you see it in the grocery store or farmers market, you don’t have to wonder what it is anymore. Now you can take some home with you and use it as you would use a potato.

How To Peel And Cook Malanga Correctly

First, scrub the malanga under running water with a brush. It is easier to peel malanga using a knife over a potato peeler. Using a potato peeler will take longer and leave your hands tired because the skin of malanga is thicker than potatoes. Also, once you start getting into the flesh of the malanga, they are slippery. Use a paper towel to help grip the malanga.

Next, cut off each end of the Malanga, or rather, cut the ends off, then cut them into two or three pieces (learn more). You may also cut it into segments 3-4 inches long if you may like. Then, thereafter, stand the peels upright on the end that has the widest diameter. Starting from the top and cutting down, cut the skin off in segments all the way around.

Related Resource: 7 Surprising Benefits Of Taro Root 

Put the peeled malanga in a bowl of cold water to keep them from turning brown while you peel more. You may clean the root with a brush under running water, trim the ends and remove the skin. Rinse each piece after peeling and cover in cold water. And then, thereafter, when it comes to cooking them (learn more) try them boiled, mashed, or deep-fried into chips.

Place it in a pan of salted water and boil until tender (about 20 to 30 minutes). With this in mind, if you’re ready to incorporate Malanga into your diet, you can get started by trying some of the recipes below in your next home-based cooking plan.

Some topmost recipes:

And now, until we get all of our recipes added to this blog guide, kindly feel free to look here for some other inspirations. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, one cup of cooked Malanga contains approximately 225 calories. In addition to 4.7 grams of Fat, 44 grams of Carbohydrates, 7 grams of Fiber, 2.5 grams of Protein, and 229 mg of Sodium.

Forthwith, would you like to grate and preserve them for later use instead? Well, shred the malanga using a box grater. Use medium grating holes instead of large ones. Add the shreds to a bowl, cover, and refrigerate as you prep other ingredients.

NB: In terms of pet consumption, biting into or chewing part of the Malanga plant produces immediate pain and burning in the mouth as the crystals (in bundles called raphides) puncture the soft tissue. As a result, this can cause even your pets like dogs to vomit, and not be able to swallow. Your pet may even have trouble breathing due to the inflammation (learn more).

Summary Notes:

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, usually, form around the corm. Bearing in mind, that a tuber is a bulky storage part of the root. Not to mention, some people also eat 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. The best way is to peel it like you would a butternut squash.

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In terms of planting, like in Florida, spring is the best time since the crop requires 9 to 10 months to mature, and frosts are normally injurious to it. Its propagation can be done in several methods. You can either plant the top (head), plant the whole main tuber, plant pieces of the main tuber, or even plant individual secondary tubers.

Finally, it’s our hope that the above preview guide on Malanga was useful to your next diet plan. Please let’s know what you think about it in the comments section below. And as for more additional links and related topics, please feel free to Contact Us and let us know. We will be more than happy to share them with other readers like yourself. Thanks for your time!


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