Many people may not be familiar with malanga. But, this root vegetable has been farmed longer than many other plants.
As per the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, malanga is known by many other names, including “cocoyam, yautia, coco, eddo, sato-imo, tannia, and Japanese potatoes. The scientific name of Malanga is Xantyosoma sagittifolium, but, it is more commonly known as the elephant ear plant.
We will e take a look at malanga, study its health benefits, nutritional content, and how to include this root vegetable in a diet.
Health Benefits of Malanga:
1. Gut Health
Malanga is great source of fiber. Just 1/3-cup serving of cooked malanga contains about 3 grams of fiber.
Most Americans do not get enough fiber in their diet, and are averaging only about 15 grams daily, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Women need about 25 grams of fiber daily, while men need 38 grams.
Adding more fiber-rich foods into your diet like malanga not only help in improving constipation, but, may also make it easier for you to lower your risk of heart disease and maintain a healthy weight.
2. Reduces Cholesterol
It is usually the root of the malanga plant that is eaten, but, one study looked at the benefits of consuming fiber from malanga leaves.
Malanga leaves contain a type of fiber known as insoluble fiber. This type of fiber has been linked with lower risk of colon cancer, improved digestive function, and healthier weight.
In contrast, soluble fiber is mainly asociated with cholesterol improvement and blood pressure.
All of the rats that were involved in the study were fed a high-fat diet, but, some of the rats also received varying types of dietary fiber. At the end of the study, the rats that consume the malanga leaf had significantly lower total cholesterol levels than the other rats, despite the malanga containing mainly insoluble fiber.
Also, the malanga root itself is a good source of fiber. As stated above, just 1/3 cup of cooked malanga contains 10% of an adult’s daily recommended amount of fiber.
A review of studies reported that consuming more fiber is linked with significantly lower total and LDL (or “bad”) cholesterol levels. And because high cholesterol is a risk factor for heart disease, consuming more fiber may help protect against heart disease.
3. Regulating Blood Pressure
Just 1/3 cup serving of cooked malanga provides about 320 milligrams (mg) of potassium. Some studies have showed that there is a linked between blood pressure and dietary potassium intake.
In a study, higher potassium intake was linked with a significantly lower risk of high blood pressure. This is important due to the fact that high blood pressure increases the risk of stroke and heart disease and stroke.
Potassium helps relaxes blood vessels, which lessens the work that is required by the heart to pump blood through the body.
4. Weight Management
Besides its effects on your blood cholesterol levels, dietary fiber also play a role in weight management. This is very important because obesity is a risk factor for many chronic diseases.
In a study that was mentioned above, rats in the malanga leaf group gained less weight, as compared to other groups.
A review of studies reported that a diet that is high in fiber may help in preventing weight gain. Adding malanga into your diet is one way to increase fiber intake.
Preparation and Cooking Methods:
To prepare, peel the corm, like other tubers, then cover with water to remove sticky mucilge. Yautia or Malanga is only eaten cooked.
Malanga should only be consume cook, but, how you cook it is up to you. It can be steamed, roasted, baked, and even mashed like mashed potatoes. In fact, it is often used as a potato substitute.Also, Malanga flour can be an alternative for regular all-purpose flour.
To cook, boil Malanga for 20 minutes. Boiled tuber can be used as is, as side dish, or pureed. Also, raw tuber can first be steamed or boiled, then added to a soup or stew at the end of cooking.
- Boiled tuber can be mashed like potatoes and enjoyed with vegetable stews or meat.
- Delicious fried or with a sauce.
- It is grated, then cooked in crepes or made into Caribbean style fritters (accras).
- In Africa, dried sices of malanga milled and its flour are used to prepare porridge, fufu, pancakes, etc.
- Malanga leaves are cooked the same way as spinach, or used to wrap foods that are then cooked in the oven.
- Malanga are also used in the preparations of flour, chips, flakes, cookies, etc.
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photo credit: vegaproduce