Edible aroid leaves comprise of culinary roots outside the potato family.
The main ones include taro and tannia which have similar characteristics such as elephant ear leaves, large corns, and a distinctive neutral taste. The edible aroids are mainly grown by family growers across the country and can be found in local food markets.
Rene Tabaro, a nutritionist and dietician at King Faisal Hospital, says in general, edible aroids are rich in protein while aroid leaves are an excellent source of Vitamin A, C, calcium, potassium, phosphorus, iron, and folic acid.
He says the nutritional value of aroid leaves is often compared to spinach, as they are an excellent source of iron and folic acid.
Although highly nutritious, he says that it’s also essential to note that aroids also contain anti-nutrients, particularly oxalic acid, which can cause irritation of the skin and mouth, therefore consuming them in moderation becomes necessary.
Tabaro says the nutritional benefits of edible aroids include being rich in minerals as well as having three times the dietary fibre content for good digestion as the common potato.
In addition to this, the nutritionist points out that consuming edible aroids, in general, can also help improve cell metabolism and boost blood oxygen through its high levels of vitamin B6.
From studies, aroids have also been shown to be a good healthy resource for improving brain function, a great antioxidant, a detoxifying agent with its high water and potassium content, and stable food to eat during pregnancy.
The high levels of proteins in aroids act as an excellent source of carotene, potassium, calcium, phosphorous, iron, riboflavin, thiamine, niacin, vitamin A, vitamin-C and dietary fibre.
The leaves of aroids, nutritionists say, are rich in protein, and that the high protein content of the leaves favourably complements the high carbohydrate content of the tubers, making it an important food for people to consume for their wellbeing.
The leaves have been reported to be rich in nutrients, including minerals such as calcium, phosphorus, iron, and vitamins like vitamin C, thiamine, riboflavin, and niacin.
According to Tabaro, it’s also evident that high levels of dietary fibre in aroids are also advantageous for their active role in the regulation of intestinal transit, increasing dietary bulk and faeces consistency due to their ability to absorb water.
“It has three times the dietary fibre content for good digestion as the common potato,” he says.
It also improves cell metabolism and boosts blood oxygen through its high levels of vitamin B6.
It is also a good healthy resource for improving brain function, a great antioxidant, a detoxifying agent with its high water and potassium content, and stable food to eat during pregnancy.