If you love potatoes and their versatility, you don’t want to miss out on yautia, a tropical vegetable with many health benefits that will cut out the mediocrity in your kitchen.
To help you learn more about yautias and decide whether they should be a part of your diet, we've put together everything you need to know about this vegetable.
The yautia plant is a specialty vegetable cultivated for its root, which makes for a staple ingredient in many kitchens. Moreover, there are different varieties of this starchy vegetable: yautia blanca (white), lila, and amarilla.
Yautia is native to tropical South America and the West Indies, in countries like Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Dominican Republic, according to the USDA.
Yautia root is shaped like a thick parsnip and has a hairy texture, especially at the top of the root. Its varieties differ by the colors of the flesh. On the inside, yautia blanca is white, the lila has a violet tinge, and the amarilla is orangish, comparable to cheddar cheese.
You can see the three yautia varieties in this Human Ecology journal article.
Yautia is often linked to having a nutty taste that also has hints of potato.
In comparison to the blanca type, yautia lila has a “funkier” taste, according to PT Stacey Venancio.
You should cook yautia in the first 1-2 days after you bought it, or peel and freeze it.
Stacey Venancio, ACE-certified health coach and personal trainer, freezes her yautia by putting it in the fridge wrapped in a paper towel, according to one of her YouTube videos. So, yes, you can also freeze yautias.
If you’re wondering whether yautia is good for you, know that this healthy root vegetable is packed with many benefits for your body, mainly because it's filled with potassium, rich in fibers, and loaded with calories.
Shortly said, if you add yautia to your diet, it might:
Yautias may help lower blood pressure and therefore decrease the risk of heart disease because of their increased potassium levels. The Institute of Medicine associated higher potassium intakes with decreased blood pressure and a lower risk of hypertension.
And that isn't the only source backing up yautia's effects on cardiovascular health.
The FDA says that "diets containing foods that are good sources of potassium and low in sodium may reduce the risk of high blood pressure and stroke.”
Due to their heightened potassium levels, yautias help you stay away from developing kidney stones. These can increase the risk of you developing chronic kidney disease.
The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality found an association between higher potassium intakes and a lower risk of kidney stones. They did so after an extensive review of the effects of sodium and potassium intake.
The consumption of fruits and vegetables with potassium has been linked to increased bone mineral density in many scientific studies. Therefore, yautias, which are rich-in-potassium vegetables, can improve your bone health as well.
Some scientific evidence linked a lower intake of potassium to a higher risk of insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. Therefore, yautias may help you prevent diabetes, given they are a small treasure of potassium.
The NIH Office for Dietary Supplements calls these findings “promising”. However, they demand more research, especially through clinical trials, before they can confirm the facts.
Packing 141 calories per 100 g, yautias help you gain weight by making it significantly easier to reach your daily calorie goals.
Vegetables rarely have this ability. After all, greens are generally known for their low-calorie content and are used in weight-loss diets.
Yautia is one of the most nutritious veggies that joined our ranking of surprisingly high-calorie vegetables. So, if you are looking to build muscle and size, start replacing your usual potatoes with some exotic yautia, which has almost double the calories.
If you need more help in gaining weight, you can easily boost the number of calories in your diet by picking anything from our lists of bulking foods, high-calorie snacks, weight gain drinks, and energy-dense smoothies.
However, in case you're looking to lose weight, and yautia has too many calories, check out our lists of low-calorie foods and high-volume edibles. These lists also include vegetables featuring as low as 3 calories/100 g.
Given yautias' medium fiber content, they help you meet the recommended daily intake of fiber easier. This is especially important since only 5% of Americans meet the recommended daily fiber intake, according to an American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine study.
If you eat more dietary fiber, you can increase your metabolic and colonic health, lower the risk of cardiovascular disease, have smoother digestion, and prolong your life span among others, according to a recent Nutrients journal study.
Also, because of the fibers in their composition, yautias joined our list of easy-to-digest foods, which can help you avoid an upset stomach.
Yautias are mainly carbs, which is not surprising since we are talking about a starchy vegetable. Yautia also has a decent amount of fiber: 14% of the daily need for a person following a 2000-calorie diet.
In terms of vitamins and minerals, this root vegetable has plenty of potassium while featuring some magnesium and phosphorus as well.
In USDA’s food database, yautia is written down under one of its synonyms, tannier.
Find below the nutrition facts for 100 g of cooked yautia:
One can see yautias as being healthier than potatoes because they don’t raise blood sugar as much as potatoes do. This is because yautias have more fiber than potatoes.
For example, 100 g of boiled potatoes have 2 g of fiber while the same quantity of cooked yautia has 4 g of fiber, which is double the amount.
Yet, a potential downside is that cooked yautias have 1.4 times more carbohydrates than boiled potatoes. So they will keep your blood sugar level raised for longer, although they won’t spike it as much as potatoes.
Moreover, keep in mind that potatoes may be healthier for your budget than yautias, given that the russet baking potatoes are one of the cheapest high-calorie vegetables.
First of all, you must always cook yautia before eating it.
If you eat it raw, you will get poisoned, which means you can experience any of the following symptoms, according to USDA:
Fortunately, you can cook yautias in many delicious ways, which can involve boiling and adding them into a salad, frying, or baking them.
Are you wondering what can you make with yautias?
You can use them in the kitchen pretty much in the same way you would use sweet potatoes.
One of the simplest ways to consume yautia is to boil it, add some herbs over, and eat it as a garnish. Alternatively, you can mash them and even make a puree.
However, if you want something fancier, try any of the two recipes below, both of them having yautia as one of the main ingredients.
These coconut yautia bars will provide you energy especially due to yautia’s carb-filled content. While coconut milk has the job of keeping the bar together and giving an even more exotic flavor to the bar, seasonings add a little more taste.
If you are on a high-calorie diet or bulking up to increase your body size, then you can cut the baked mix into 2 or 3 servings instead of 6. Check out our list of high-calorie bars to find more bar recipes for healthy weight gain and the best pre-made bars on the market.
If you want a snack that’s richer in protein, then these meat bars made of yautia and beef are your go-to solution.
If you prefer to have the previous two bar recipes above in video format, here is coach Stacey Venancio in action.
However, if you feel like going for a more exotic dish, know that you can use yautias to make dishes like sancocho (a kind of broth), mondongo soup, pasteles (similar to tamales), and alcapurrias (a popular fritter dish).
If you’re looking to buy yautias, we advise you to go to a local grocery store or a specialty products store instead of trying to find them online.
The naming used online can be misleading, given that there is a lot of confusion involved around setting yautias apart from taro roots, eddoes, yucas, and malangas.
Scientific facts about yautias
Below we explain the main differences between yautia and other similar specialty root vegetables.
Taro root image (left) credits: Arbyreed from Flickr (license: Creative Commons)
Even though many classify yautia and taro root as being the same, including the USDA, they clearly have it wrong. It is enough to look at these veggies' scientific names to set them apart. While yautia is called Xanthosoma sagittifolium, taro root is named Colocasia esculenta.
Secondly, if we compare the shapes of the two root vegetables, we will see that taro is rounder, like a potato, while yautia is elongated, like a carrot or a parsnip.
In English-speaking countries, people often talk about yautia using the term “malanga”, which doesn't mean the same thing. To explain, malanga is widely used as an umbrella term for different kinds of exotic root vegetables.
Therefore, when shopping for yautia, make sure it has a label stating its name. The label on the yautias should look similar to the one in the following picture:
Image credits: Stacey Venancio / YouTube
Yautia can also be confused with yuca, also known as cassava, which is another type of root vegetable. Yet, these two are again two different vegetables.
First of all, the scientific name of yuca (cassava) is Manihot esculenta, which is clearly different from their counterpart's Xanthosoma sagittifolium.
Secondly, the surface of the yuca is waxy while yautia’s skin is hairy. Moreover, yuca has a stem while yautia doesn’t.
Eddoes image (left) credits: Ringer from Wikimedia (license: Creative Commons)
Eddoes are yet another vegetable that often gets mixed up with yautia, which is a mistake. By their scientific name, you can call eddoes Colocasia antiquorum. Looking at their shape, these root veggies look like smaller and hairier taro roots.
Although they are consumed in similar ways, the yam and the yautia are not the same vegetable. Scientifically, you can label yams as Dioscorea and yautias as X. sagittifolium.
As a takeaway, there is no wonder why yautia is a staple food in some parts of the world.
Yautias have a nutty taste, can last in the freezer, give you significant energy without spiking your blood sugar, and have multiple healthy effects on the body, including:
In addition, yautias contain plenty of fibers that bring health benefits as well.
And in terms of cooking this vegetable, it is as versatile as potatoes are. Therefore, whether you wish to prepare some high-calorie bars, meatloaf, traditional tropical dishes, or you just want to give yautias a boil, you are set for a tasty and healthy treat.
However, remember to never eat yautias raw and make sure you don’t confuse them with other root vegetables when shopping.
Enjoy your yautias!