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Variation in oxalate content among corm parts, harvest time, and cultivars of taro (Colocasia esculenta (L.) Schott)

Kristl J., Sem V., Mergedus A., Zavi¿ek M., Ivancic A., Lebot V.. 2021. Journal of Food Composition and Analysis, 102 : 8 p..

DOI: 10.1016/j.jfca.2021.104001

Taro (Colocasia esculenta L. Schott) is considered a dietary staple food crop for millions of people throughout tropical and subtropical regions. Depending on the cultivar, taro may contain oxalic acid deposited in plant tissues as calcium oxalate crystals, causing a very unpleasant burning sensation in the mouth. In the present study, oxalate content was quantified in four different parts of the taro corm, as well as variation in dry matter, Ca, and the oxalate content of corms harvested at different developmental stages, from 5 months after planting (MAP) to 13 MAP. The results revealed that the level of oxalates varies according to corm part and cultivar. The cultivars with the lowest and highest water-soluble and total oxalate content in the central part, which is critical for human nutrition, were VU268 (87 and 134 mg 100 g-1 DW) and VU384 (182 and 230 mg 100 g-1 DW, respectively). Water-soluble oxalates accumulate mainly in the central and lower parts, while insoluble oxalates are concentrated in the marginal part of the corm. Their content can be almost halved by removing a 1 cm thick marginal layer (peeling). The oxalate/Ca molar ratio ranged from 0.78 in the upper to 1.31 in the central part, suggesting that the bioavailability of Ca in corms could be low. The dry matter content and Ca, insoluble and total oxalate levels vary according to the harvest time. The lowest total oxalate content was determined at 8 MAP (the usual time for taro harvest), while water-soluble oxalates increased with growing period. The proper assessment of corm maturity before harvest is, therefore, a critical step in controlling corm quality. Taro breeding programs aimed at reducing corm acridity need to take into consideration these results when designing protocols for optimum nutritional quality improvement of new cultivars.

Mots-clés : oxalate; colocasia esculenta; composition des aliments; cormus; variété; bulbe; choix des espèces

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