Malanga is a root vegetable that’s commonly used in South America, Africa, and some tropical regions. 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.
Malanga is also similar to taro, another root vegetable. Despite the fact that some stores sell them under the other’s name, the two are not the same They are from the same family (Arceae), but they belong to different genus groups. Malanga has a hairy texture to its skin and has the shape of a longer, thinner potato. Taro has a lighter skin than malanga and is more bulb-shaped.
Read on for the benefits of eating malanga as well as risks and recipes.
1. Is an allergy-friendly food
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 insensitivities 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.
2. Contains B vitamins
Malanga contains a number of different B vitamins, including riboflavin and folate.
Riboflavin, also known as vitamin B-2, can improve energy levels, boost immune function, and improve the health of your skin, hair, and nails. Riboflavin may also protect against migraines and cancer, according to the National Institutes of Health.
Folate helps the body convert carbohydrates into energy, and can help protect the heart, hearing, and eyes.
3. Regulates blood pressure
Malanga is an incredible source of potassium, a nutrient that’s important for overall health. Potassium can help regulate and lower blood pressure. It can also prevent against conditions such as heart attack, stroke, kidney disorders, and muscle cramps.
4. Source of complex carbs
Contrary to what plenty of dieting sites say, we actually need carbs. Carbohydrates are essential for our bodies to create energy. Choosing nutrient-dense, complex carbohydrates can provide more sustainable energy, be more satiating, and have a lower impact on blood sugar. Malanga is a great source of complex carbs. Eating it helps maintain blood sugar and provides a consistent stream of energy instead of a crash soon after your meal.
5. Low on the glycemic index
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, though the higher carb count should still be taken into account.
Serving size and nutritional information
Malanga is nutrient-dense, low in fat, and contains fiber. One serving of cooked malanga equals one cup, without anything else added in. A serving contains approximately:
- 132 calories, which is slightly high compared to other vegetables
- .5 grams of fat
- 32 grams of carbohydrates
- 9 grams of fiber
- 3 grams of protein
Malanga also provides vitamin C, riboflavin, thiamine, and iron.
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 high in fiber. It’s safe for both adults and children to eat. You can even mash it for young children who are expanding their diet.
The only exception is for people who need to lower the potassium in their diet. These people have what’s known as hyperkalemia, or too much potassium in the blood. Symptoms can include a slowed heart rate, weakness, and an abnormal heart rhythm. Malanga may not be a good option for these people.
While malanga is an extremely healthy food, moderation is key. You should never rely on malanga for all your dietary needs. Instead, incorporate it into a well-balanced diet.
How to cook malanga
Malanga should only be eaten cooked, but how you cook it is up to you. It can be roasted, steamed, baked, and even mashed like mashed potatoes. It’s often used as a potato substitute. Malanga flour can be used in place of regular all-purpose flour.
If you’re ready to incorporate malanga into your diet, you get started by trying these recipes: