Why eat pa‘i ‘ai?

This “super food” of the Pacific is one of the most nutritious complex carbohydrates in the region. It’s hypoallergenic, low-glycemic and has been effective in feeding cancer patients and infants. The bacteriocin-producing bacteria, which creates the souring element in poi, has been recognized as a food preservation element. They are also a source of healthy probiotics in the same manner as active bacteria yogurts, miso, tempeh, shoyu, tofu and natto—foods that have been shown to aid in digestion, reduce cholesterol and the chances of heart disease. These qualities, not to mention its taste and value-added production, make pa‘i ‘ai a potent tool for connecting taro farming with mainstream audiences.

Kalo is gluten free and, as a low glycemic index food, also helps control hunger. In combination with its slow digesting carbohydrates, kalo’s high fiber content helps helps ensure a gradual rise in blood suger, making it an excellent food for controlling diabetes. Its high concentration of potassium, manganese and vitamins C, E, and B-6 supports the immune system and protects against cardiovascular disease.

Kalo leaves also have significant levels of vitamin A, plus phenolic flavonoid pigment antioxidants such as beta carotenes and cryptoxanthin. Just 100 g of taro leaves provides 4825 IU or 161% DV of vitamin A. These compounds allow the body to maintain healthy mucus membranes, skin and vision and help protect against lung and oral cancers.

As is evident from the nutritional superiority of kalo as a dietary staple, increasing the availability of taro, as well as expanding community education for making pa‘i ‘ai, are fundamental steps to increase the health and well being of Hawaiian families and our ‘āina.

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Based on serving size of 1 cup of sliced taro (132g)

187 calories

46 g carbohydrates (complex amylose and amylopectin carbohydrates)

0.1 g fat (0.1g polyunsaturated fat, 18.5mg omega-3 fatty acids, 42.2mg omega-6 fatty acids)

7 g fiber (27% DV )

1 g sugar

1 g protein

0 mg cholestoral

20 mg sodium

Thiamin (9% DV)

Niacin (3% DV)

Vitamin B-6 (22% DV)

Folate (6% DV)

Pantothenic Acid (4% DV)

Vitamin A (2% DV)

Calcium (2% DV)

Iron (5% DV)

Vitamin C (11% DV)

Vitamin E (19% DV)

Vitamin K (2% DV)

Magnesium (10 % DV)

Phosphorus (10% DV)

Copper (13% DV)

Potassium (18% DV)

Manganese (30% DV)

Zinc (2% DV)

Selenium (2% DV)