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What Is Malanga and Is It Healthy? The Benefits of the Root Vegetable Explained

Nov 20, 2021 10:00AM ● By Boitumelo Masihleho
cut up malanga, a white root vegetable

Malanga is a root vegetable that it has a texture similar to potatoes and is often milled into flour that can be used for cooking. Unlike potatoes, however, malanga is 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.  

Also known as old coco yam, eddoe, dasheen, tania, or yautia, this root vegetable is grown mostly in Central and South America, Africa, Southeast Asia, the Pacific Islands, and New Zealand, and is commonly used in those regions. In the United States, malanga grows in Florida, where experts consider it an invasive species. Malanga has a hairy texture to its skin and has the shape of a longer, thinner potato.

Malanga root contains a good amount of potassium, which is important for water regulation and heart contraction. Potassium can help regulate and lower blood pressure and prevent conditions such as heart attack, stroke, kidney disorders, and muscle cramps. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020–2025 suggest that adults consume around 25 to 33 grams of fiber each day, and malanga is an excellent source. One cup of it packs around 7 grams of fiber. This boosts the metabolism, and it creates a good environment for the production of good bacteria,  improving the immune system.

Malanga contains several B vitamins, including folate and riboflavin (B-2). These help boost energy levels and immune function and can improve skin, hair, and nail health, as well as protect the heart and eyes. Folate helps the body convert carbohydrates into energy, and can help protect the heart, hearing, and eyes. 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.

People with allergies or sensitivity to gluten can eat malanga. The root veggie is gluten-free and can be a wonderful alternative to wheat flour. Plus, it also doesn’t appear to cause other allergic reactions outside of gluten. There are almost no known risks of consuming malanga as long as it’s cooked. Malanga is full of nutrients and is a complex carb that’s safe for both adults and children to eat.

It's also a pretty versatile veggie, as there are a number of ways you can enjoy it. To grow malanga coco at home, you need really wet moistured soil. Several West African dishes typically peel the malanga after boiling or steaming, and mashing it like mashed potato, adding spices and pepper and salt. It also serves as a thickener in soups in the form of malanga coco flour. People can also use malanga flour instead of wheat flour in baked goods. To grow malanga coco at home, you need really wet moistured soil, and to place it in full sunlight or is half-shaded. It’s important to add on some compost to the soil right at the time of planting and also after every two months. Take care of the plant and you will get good results in 10 to 12 months.



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 Boitumelo Masihleho is a South African digital content creator. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from Rhodes University in Journalism and Media Studies and Politics and International Studies. She's an experienced multimedia journalist who is committed to writing balanced, informative and interesting stories on a number of topics. Boitumelo has her own YouTube channel where she shares her love for affordable beauty and lifestyle content. 

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