Taro – A Forgotten Vegetable

By Guest Author Liz Tomsyck

Liz, a native Hawaiian before moving to the continental USA, wrote this article as part of the college nutrition course that I taught. We very much enjoyed her presentation on taro and poi, especially due to her experience of eating it. Her parents planted taro in their garden in Hawaii.


Taro triumphs over food allergies

Green leaves of Taro plant

Native Hawaiians love taro, a root vegetable, also known as colocasia esculenta. They primarily consume its starch filled corm.. Originating in Asia it made its way to the South Pacific and became rapidly popular.

Specifically, the Native Hawaiian Islanders grew extremely fond of this root vegetable because of its versatility, as well as, the internal nutritional value. Part of the attraction to taro was the ability to make it into what is known as poi. In the Hawaiian culture this is the main staple, and is made by cooking the taro root first, then adding water to it and pounding it using a poi pounder.

Poi was also used for external medicinal uses. For example on burns it acted as a healing agent, much like aloe.


Taro corm has a higher caloric value than potatoes. The majority of calories come from the complex carbohydrates like, amylose and amylopectin. Free of gluten this root vegetable is a great attraction to those who cannot consume gluten.

It is also high in phyto-nutrients such as dietary fiber and antioxidants. Taro contains 4.1 grams of fiber per 100 grams of taro. The fiver content slows digestion causing glucose to drip slowly into the bloodstream thus stabilizing blod sugar levels.

The leaves of taro as well as the “yellow- fleshed” roots, are packed full of “phenolic flavonoid pigment antioxidants like B-carotenes and cryptoxanthin along with vitamin A”. Eating 100g of fresh taro leaves gives 4825 IU of vitamin A. This is good for a person’s skin, mucus membranes and vision. Filling your body with this type of vitamin helps one fight against lung and oral cavity cancer.

You can also find vitamin b-6, folates, riboflavin, pantothenic acid, and thiamin. Also the taro corm has these wonderful minerals that tarry inside, they are: zinc, magnesium, copper, iron, and manganese. Lastly, taro is full of potassium, which helps keep the heart rate and blood pressure at peace.


Dr. Weston Price, DDS has an amazing story about his time spent in Hawaii, and how learning about the nutrient richness of poi was able to help his daughter fight the onslaught of a whacked out GI Tract, which could have led to death. This is Dr. Price’s story:

Little did I know when my interest in poi emerged that poi would become the sole reason my daughter would survive a life-threatening digestive illness! This occurred a few years after temporarily moving from Hawaii to California where I relocated for a time to further my studies in alternative medicine and healing.

My second daughter was born at home in an easy and quick delivery. She was exclusively breast fed and seemed to thrive for three days. But on the third day she quit breathing and turned blue for no apparent reason. A successive array of pediatricians gave a grave prognosis –spinal meningitis. The doctors wanted her hospitalized immediately. One pediatrician however, after examining her thoroughly, told me that her strength and alertness did not indicate spinal meningitis but possibly a digestive disorder that was creating excessive mucus and blocking her airway after nursing.

I tried many kinds of foods–raw goat and cow milk, rice milk, nut milk, squash milk and many more, yet after ingestion of each of these foods my baby would quit breathing. She was soon diagnosed as failure-to-thrive. She cried constantly and rarely slept. Finally, after going from 8 pounds at birth to 5 pounds in three weeks, I remembered poi and the claim that it is a nutritious, life-giving and hypoallergenic food.

I had poi air-shipped from Hawaii to California, thinned it with pure water and put it in a baby bottle for her to drink. She finished one bottle and cried for more. After three bottles of poi she fell into a sound sleep. She never stopped breathing again and began to steadily gain weight and to thrive. I was also amazed that as long as my baby had poi before or after breastfeeding, that she would have little problem with mucus or distress.

As she got older and required other foods, I began to mix poi with fruits and vegetables to create “poi pudding blends.” Even after several years, if my child would ingest food without poi included in the mix, she would have severe reactions such as fever, excessive mucus and would even go unconscious at times.

My daughter lived on poi blends exclusively for four years and has needed poi on a daily basis to remain healthy and symptom-free for eleven years since. She is now a healthy and vibrant fifteen-year-old, free from all digestive disorders and associated problems.


The Native Hawaiian’s have been eating poi for a long time, and they used to be considered one of the healthiest people in the world.

Once poi is made, it ferments over time and is turned into what is called sour poi. This fermentation is much like kombucha, in that it has probiotics or live cultures, which promote good bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract.

Most Hawaiian’s feed their babies poi not only because of the nutrients but also because it requires virtually no chewing, and is easy to digest.

It has been suggested that poi can help fight against these horrific diseases: Diarrhea, Gastroenteritis, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Inflammatory Bowel Disease, and Cancer.







About Dr. Jo

Dr. JoDr. Jo delights in sharing the message of health. She believes disease is optional if you know how to take care of yourself. And she’s a great coach to help you reverse or prevent disease.

So she writes this blog to keep you up to date with information that may undermine your health if you are not aware of it. She also provides tips on healthy living, how to reverse degenerative diseases, delicious recipes, and ways to enjoyably change your habits to healthy ones.

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