Healthy eating is a key factor in reducing the occurrences of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as diabetes, hypertension and cancer.
This habit also contributes to increasing your overall quality of life. While many people struggle with finding healthy alternatives to problematic foods in their diets, one humble root has been rising in popularity with health gurus and culinary experts alike: dasheen.
Dasheen is an excellent source of many minerals including iron, magnesium, potassium, zinc, manganese, copper and phosphorus. It also contains healthy doses of vitamins A, C, E and B6, and contains significant amounts of healthy dietary fibre. While most people in Trinidad and Tobago eat them boiled as a side dish, dasheen is incredibly versatile and presents a gluten free and fibre rich alternative to many dishes. The best part is dasheen is tasty, affordable, and can be grown in your own backyard.
Here are some proven health benefits of dasheen root, and some ideas for you to incorporate this delicious root vegetable into your diet and live a healthy, nutritious life free of NCDs.
Blood sugar management
An important benefit of dietary fibre is its ability to regulate blood sugar levels and control insulin release. This is especially important in people with diabetes or those at risk of developing type 2 diabetes. A 100 gram serving of dasheen contains around 27 per cent of your recommended daily requirement of fibre.
Try it: Dasheen has about 30 percent less fat and more fibre than its cousin, the potato. Try substituting potato for dasheen in dishes like scalloped potato pie or Shepherds’ pie to cut down on fat, but not flavour.
Researchers believe that our risk of developing serious illnesses like cancer can be greatly reduced by eating a healthy diet, ensuring that sufficient natural antioxidants are put into our system to protect our cells from damage.
Dasheen contains antioxidants in the form of vitamin A and C, as well as polyphenols. These can neutralise the damaging effect that free radicals have on our cells that may lead to mutations into cancer.
Try it: There are many creative ways to include dasheen in your diet, not just in foods, but also in drinks! Boiled dasheen makes a creamy, delicious punch, or even an exotic blended cocktail.
Improved heart health
A strong, healthy heart is key to avoiding instances of hypertension, heart attack and stroke. Dasheen is high in potassium which helps control the heart beat and also relieves stress and pressure on blood vessels and arteries. Potassium is also necessary for keeping blood pressure in check and reduces the effect of sodium on the body.
Try it: Obesity is a huge factor in decreased heart health. Try replacing refined carbohydrates such as white flour with healthy alternatives such as dasheen flour to help manage your weight and have a healthier heart. Dasheen flour tastes delicious in breads, biscuits, and even cakes!
Discover more about dasheen, from its health benefits to its preparation, at the Dasheen Information Booth found at the Tobago Blue Food Festival.
On October 15 from 10 am at the Bloody Bay Recreational Grounds, you can see, taste and explore the magic of this “blue food”.