The Paleo List Answers:IS TARO PALEO?
Taro is a common name for the corms and tubers of several plants in the Araceae family. The most common and widely cultivated is Colocasia esculenta, so we’ll focus on that one. Taro, known for it’s popularity in Hawaiian and Samoan dishes, is commonly consumed around the world – but is it Paleo?
What is Taro?
Taro is a tropical plant primarily grown for it’s edible starchy tuber (corm). Taro is native to South India and Southeast Asia, and is believed to be one of the earliest cultivated plants. While taro is mainly grown as a root vegetable, it is also harvested as a leaf vegetable. In some gardens taro is even grown as an ornamental plant, which you may recognize by the name “Elephant Ears.”
Much like tapioca (yucca, cassava), taro root is inedible raw due to the presence of toxins (calcium oxalate crystals, typically as raphides, which have been shown to contribute to kidney stones). When cooked thoroughly, taro is a good source of many vitamins and minerals, including calcium and potassium. It is recommended to consume other calcium-rich foods with taro in order to further reduce the risk of absorbing the toxic oxalates.
Is Taro Paleo?
One of the shortcuts many people use to follow the Paleo diet is to consume only those items that are safe to eat when raw. If you follow this doctrine, then no, you cannot consume taro or many other starchy tubers. However, for most of us who follow the other tenets of Paleo – mainly to consume only healthy, natural foods that are void of anti-nutrients – then yes, taro root can be consumed as part of a healthy and varied Paleo diet! It is often a good substitute for white potatoes, and can also be used to thicken soups and sauces.
Although taro is Paleo, it’s important to pay attention to what your body can handle. Ease into the starchy tubers, like taro root and sweet potatoes, to make sure your body likes them. Remember to consume all heavy starches and carbohydrates in moderation if you are trying to lose weight on the Paleo diet. It is recommended that you eat these items only on days when you do a lot of exercise. So, save those taro chips for after long runs and intense gym sessions.
Are you struggling with which foods are Paleo? Do you need help planning some Paleo meals? Check out this great Paleo cookbook: