Cassava Health Benefits, Nutritional Value, Side Effects, and Applications

Cassava Health Benefits
Cassava Health Benefits, Nutritional Value, Side Effects , and Applications

Cassava is a drought-resistant crop that is crucial in tropical diets and indigenous Caribbean cuisine. Furthermore, farmers all across the world regard this tuberous vegetable as a blessing in disguise during times of food scarcity. Cassava’s contribution to food security makes it a highly sought-after food that may also be used for a variety of other purposes.

Cassava may be used for almost anything. Cassava is commonly used as a substitute for potatoes due to its comparable taste and texture. However, when served as a side dish or snack, the results are outstanding.

Today, fortified cassava has been offered by technology to compete as a more nutritious option. Cassava has been farmed for hundreds of years before Christopher Columbus’ journey, and it is currently a staple for 500 million people.

Indeed, enhanced cassava varieties aid in the alleviation of malnutrition while also being commercially attractive for starch-based products. Despite being a key carbohydrate source, cassava roots give comparatively little nutritional benefits.[1]

Furthermore, you should consume cassava in moderation because it contains antinutrients that may cause negative health effects. Nonetheless, cassava leaves and roots remain an important source of food for underdeveloped countries.

What exactly is cassava?

Cassava, also known as Manihot esculenta, is a starchy root vegetable in the Euphorbiaceae plant family. Cassava is a perennial plant native to South America with many regional names including Brazilian arrowroot, manioc, and yuca. It is grown primarily in Nigeria, Thailand, Brazil, and Indonesia. Cassava is grown throughout most of Tanzania, and it is harvested throughout the dry season.

Although sweet cassava is more commonly consumed, bitter versions are also available on the market. They can normally be stored in either shredded or unshredded state.

You can use either fresh or frozen cassava. The mature cassava plant has vast roots, but the addition of leaves to the basic diet is limited.

The nutritional makeup of cassava roots and leaves varies according to harvest season, plant age, and geographic location. Furthermore, the proximate mineral composition of cassava roots differs greatly from that of the leaves. For example, 100 grammes of roots have 176 mg of calcium, while 100 grammes of leaves contain 708 mg.

Brazil’s south zone is home to both wild subspecies and domesticated cassava. People use them in a variety of cultural and national dishes to demonstrate diversity and versatility. Cassava was introduced to Africa by Portuguese traders in the sixteenth century to replace traditional African crops.

Cassava farming was also promoted in portions of Kerala, a South Indian state, to replace rice. However, it has grown in popularity significantly in Vietnam, Thailand, and Tanzania.

Cassava Comparative Analysis

Tapioca and cassava

Cassava starch is used to make tapioca. Tapioca lags below cassava in terms of nutritional value. It is gluten-free and low in minerals, vitamins, fatty acids, and proteins. The only thing these two have in common is a high carbohydrate ratio.

Tapioca is extracted from the cassava plant through a variety of washing and pulping procedures. The residues are starchy liquids obtained by squeezing the extracted wet cassava pulp. Tapioca flour remains after the water in the starchy liquid evaporates.

Sweet potato and cassava

Cassava and sweet potato are both tuberous root vegetables, although they do not share common characteristics and are not related. As a result, they are marketed as separate tubers. Sweet potatoes come in a variety of textures, from hard with golden skin to soft and copper-colored.

The introduction of cassava, which includes niacin, riboflavin, thiamine, and vitamin C, primarily replaces the use of sweet potatoes. Cassava, on the other hand, provides more food energy in kilocalories than sweet potatoes.

Cassava has an 86 percent higher calorific content per 100gram serving than sweet potatoes. It also has a higher fat content. Sweet potatoes, on the other hand, have more water, protein, dietary fibre, calcium, iron, potassium, and magnesium. As a result, sweet potatoes are a more nutritional option than cassava.

Potatoes and cassava

Cassava is well-known as a healthy alternative to potatoes. Both are starchy staple crops with comparable flavours. They do, however, differ greatly in appearance and nutritional value.

Cassava and potatoes have similar water densities, magnesium, and copper values. Nonetheless, cassava has five times the folate, vitamin B2, and vitamin A content of rice. It also has eighteen times the amount of vitamin E. Furthermore, cassava chips contain less fat than potato chips. It aids in the reduction of cholesterol levels.

Cassava roots provide more carbs, protein, and calories than potatoes. Aside from these factors, cassava and potatoes have relatively similar nutritional profiles. These parallels can be found in the glycemic index, minerals, fibre, and macronutrients.

Cassava Nutritional Properties

Cassava has a variety of health and nutritional benefits. It is a nutrient-dense substitute in both Western and Asian snack aisles.

Nutritional Values of Cassava

100 grammes of cooked cassava has the following nutrients:

  • 191 calories
  • 2 gramme fibre
  • Carbohydrates (40 g):
  • 3 gramme of fat
  • 1.5 gramme protein
  • 0.908 grammes monounsaturated fat
  • Sodium content: 205 milligrammes
  • 1.67 gramme sugars
  • 1.8 grammes of dietary fibre

Cassava roots are extremely vitamin-rich. Cassava contains essential vitamins and minerals.

Cassava Nutritional Information

The Glycemic Index

Cassava has a high glycemic index rating. In cooked cassava, the GI is calculated to be 94. As a result, it is treated to lower the overall glycemic index in order to meet the needs of diabetic patients.

Commercial cassava derivatives, for example, have a lower GI value of 46. Cassava, on the other hand, has a high glycemic index in its natural state. The high glycemic index of raw cassava is attributed to its high starch content.

Calories

When compared to other tuber vegetables, cassava provides roughly twice the calories per 100 grammes. It is the greatest calorific value tropical root crop.

Acidity

Cassava has a lower pH and is more acidic. It has a pH of 4.8 and keeps its acidity in raw, semi-processed, and processed forms.

Uric Acid

Cassava leaves contain uric acid. The moderate quantity of purine in the leaves is metabolised. The final result of this metabolic pathway is uric acid. As a result, the cassava extraction contains uric acid.

Carbohydrates

Cassava contains more carbs. Cassava’s high carbohydrate content makes it a dependable energy source. Cassava roots, when peeled and boiled, contain about 30 grammes of carbohydrates per 100 grammes.

Cassava Health Benefits

Vitamin C-rich

Cassava has a lot of vitamin C. Cassava has 20.6 milligrammes of vitamin C per 100 grammes. It accounts for 20% of the Daily Value (DV). According to research, vitamin C helps immune cells by avoiding oxidative stress. It’s well-known for being a wonderful element in skincare products.

Vitamin C, for example, has been shown to aid in collagen formation. As we become older, our skin loses firmness and youthfulness. We begin to develop wrinkles, fine lines, and dullness. It is caused by a reduction in collagen production. Vitamin C is an essential component in collagen formation, which aids in the slowing of the ageing process.

Cassava contains vitamin C, which aids in the fight against free radicals. According to research, vitamin C has antioxidant capabilities that aid in the healing of damaged cells and stimulate skin regeneration. To maximise the effects of vitamin C, people might combine cassava roots and leaves.

Starch That Is Resistant

Cassava is a good source of resistant starch, which resembles the qualities of soluble fibre. Consuming enough resistant starch helps blood sugar regulation and promotes intestinal health. Furthermore, research suggests that the resistant starch found in cassava feeds good intestinal microorganisms.

During digestion, cassava starch transforms to butyrate fatty acid, which reduces colon inflammation and strengthens its defence systems. Colorectal cancer risk is reduced by having a healthy stomach and colon.

Acts as an energy source

Cassava has a high glucose content. As a result, it is an excellent fuel source for athletes that demand a high carbohydrate intake. Cooked cassava can be carb-loaded and used to replenish lost energy after exercise.

As a result, it is a superior option for folks searching for a recovery meal following high-intensity activity. The complex glucose chain also assures a steady source of energy.

Immunity Against Liver Cancer

Cassava contains a good amount of magnesium. According to one study, increasing your magnesium intake lowers your risk of developing liver cancer.

Furthermore, magnesium supplementation may help to reduce the advancement of steatosis and steatohepatitis. These two diseases are known to be progenitors of liver cancer. Thus, include cassava in the diet ensures a sufficient quantity of magnesium.

Sugar-free

Cassava has a low sugar content. A 100 gramme serving of raw cassava contains just about 1.7 grammes of sugar. Boiled cassava has a similar sugar content. 100 grammes of boiled cassava root contains only 1.3 grammes of sugar.

However, there is no specific scientific evidence to recommend its usage in a diabetic diet. According to some, the low sugar content of cassava does not induce a surge in blood sugar levels.

Cassava, when combined with the properties of low sugar and resistant starch, can be a suitable root vegetable for blood sugar management. Nonetheless, there is still a disagreement on this claim.

Restores Kidney Function

Creatinine levels that are too high might lead to renal damage and failure. Cassava leaf extract lowers creatinine levels in the blood.

It also decreases toxicity in renal nephrons, as the high quantities of carotenoids in cassava aid in kidney function restoration. A cassava-based diet, on the other hand, may not be suitable for renal failure.

Cassava includes cyanide-based chemicals, which may cause an increase in urea levels in the body. As a result, it is not appropriate for persons who have renal problems.

Cassava Applications

Methods for Preparing Cassava

Because it contains hydrocyanic acid, cyanogenic glycosides, and other cyanide components, raw cassava is poisonous. However, you may remove these toxic substances from cassava roots by peeling and boiling them. Cassava serving suggestions include:

  • Peel off the skin with a paring knife until the white flesh is revealed. Remove any leftover skins or strings and quickly submerge them in lukewarm water to avoid reddish discoloration.
  • To make the cassava safe for human eating, boil the chopped pieces. Boiling the roots in salted water for roughly 10-15 minutes softens and protects them.
  • Cassava roots can be waxed to extend their shelf life and remove toxicity from their skin.
  • Cassava is traditionally prepared by baking or boiling. After thorough cleaning and boiling to remove natural poisons, it can be fried.

Cassava-Based Recipes

Cassava Cake (Cassava Cake)

Time to prepare: 2 hours
24 equal square pieces are served.

Ingredients

14 oz. cassava (grated)
12 oz. sweetened condensed milk
1 can evaporated milk
1 can coconut milk
3 cups sugar
3 eggs (full)
1 egg white
1 cup grated coconut
3 egg yolks (for garnish)

Directions

  • Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • In a large mixing basin, combine all of the ingredients. Combine thoroughly.
  • Pour the batter into a large oiled rectangle baking dish.
  • Bake for 30 minutes, or until the top layer is no longer liquid.
  • Combine the topping ingredients and distribute them evenly over the cake. Bake for another 20 to 30 minutes after that.
  • After the cakes have completely cooled, cut them into equal squares.

Crispy Cassava Chips

Time to prepare: 35-40 minutes
4 servings

Ingredients

1 kilogramme cassava (sliced thinly in circles)
Season with salt to taste.
250 mL vegetable oil

Directions

  • Fill one-third of the deep fryer with vegetable oil and heat to 200°C.
  • In batches, deep fried the cut cassava chips. Remove from the heat when it has a golden hue and a crisp texture.
  • On a paper towel, blot off any extra oil.
  • Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Cassava: Potential Side Effects and Reminders

Toxicity Possibility

Cassava roots contain hazardous cyanogenic glycoside chemicals such as methyl-linamarin and linamarin. Linamarin oxidises to toxic hydrocyanic acid. As a result, consuming raw or undercooked cassava may result in cyanide poisoning.

It causes headaches, stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, and, in extreme cases, death. Furthermore, the significantly increased cyanide content in cassava’s skin and outer peels is a potentially fatal drawback.

Ataxic Neuropathy in the Tropics

A monotonous cassava diet causes tropical ataxic neuropathy, a chronic condition. It refers to a group of disorders that cause disability and spinal ataxia. Furthermore, poorly prepared and processed cassava retains its intrinsic poisons and causes chronic illnesses.

More Calories

Cassava’s high calorific value contributes to undesirable weight gain and has an impact on cardiovascular health. Cassava contains more calories than other root vegetables (nearly 191 calories per 100 grams). Insulin resistance, heart problems, obesity, and hyperglycemia are all caused by long-term use of calorie-rich cassava.

In conclusion

Cassava is a tuberous vegetable that is commonly grown in Tanzania and Asia. Despite its high calorific value, cassava is a well-known potato alternative. Cassava, on the other hand, may be a healthier option due to its relatively high nutrient content.

Although the roots and leaves are edible, ingesting raw cassava causes cyanide poisoning. Cassava’s inherent toxin levels can be reduced by peeling and boiling the skin.

Despite this, it is high in vitamin C, carbs, and resistant starch. Cassava is also simple to cook and promotes healthy intestinal health. Furthermore, cassava’s drought resilience makes it essential during times of food scarcity.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQS)

Q. What are the advantages of consuming cassava?

A. Cassava has a lot of vitamin C and resistant starch. It aids in the maintenance of a healthy gut, the growth of beneficial gut flora, the creation of collagen, and the enhancement of immunity. Cassava leaf extracts can also be consumed to treat renal disease.

Q. Are cassava and tapioca the same thing?

A. Tapioca is derived from cassava tuber starch by washing and pulping. When compared to cassava, it has less nutritional value but equivalent carbohydrate amounts. You can, however, utilise both interchangeably depending on your needs.

Q. Is cassava a poisonous plant?

A. Only raw cassava is toxic. Natural poisons such as methyl-linamarin, linamarin, and other hazardous cyanogenic glycoside chemicals are found in it. Cassava that has been cooked or boiled is free of these poisons and does not affect the body.

Q. What are the disadvantages of cassava?

A. Cassava can produce cyanide poisoning due to the presence of natural poisons. Headache, nausea, vomiting, tiredness, and nerve damage are all possible adverse effects. Because of its higher calorific value, it can also cause weight gain and heart problems.

Q. Is cassava better for you than potatoes?

A. Cassava is a healthier alternative to potatoes due to its lower fat content. It’s also high in vitamin A, B2, folate, and E. Both, however, are nutritionally extremely similar. As a result, consumers prefer cassava chips to potato chips.

Q. Does cassava have an acidic or alkaline pH?

A. Cassava is acidic in its normal condition, having a pH of 4.8. However, even after food processing procedures, it tends to keep its acidity.

Q. Is cassava healthy for the kidneys?

A. Yes, cassava is beneficial to the kidneys since it heals renal disease and failure. Furthermore, clinical studies demonstrate that ingesting cassava lowers kidney-harming creatinine levels.

However, because cassava increases urea content, it may not be an acceptable diet option for people with renal disease.

Q. Is cassava poisonous?

A. Cassava that has been boiled or cooked is not poisonous. Raw cassava, on the other hand, should be avoided since it contains cyanogenic glycosides. These are natural toxins found in it that can result in lethal cyanide poisoning.

Q. Is cassava good for lowering cholesterol?

A. Cassava has a lot of calories and carbs. As a result, it is not a good option for persons who have high cholesterol. Furthermore, the high calorific value causes extra fat formation in the body. It will raise cholesterol levels.

Q. Does cassava contain a lot of uric acid?

A. As a metabolic end product, purine in cassava leaves produces uric acid. As a result, the uric acid content would be greatly increased.

Q: Is cassava or sweet potato healthier?

A. Cassava contains more calories and less nutrients than sweet potatoes. Sweet potatoes, on the other hand, are higher in proteins, fibre, calcium, water content, iron, and magnesium. Thus, when it comes to nutritional value, sweet potatoes outperform cassava.

Q. Is cassava a type of carbohydrate?

A. Cassava is a tuberous root vegetable, not a fruit. It is, nevertheless, a good source of carbs. Cassava provides an adequate amount of a complex carbohydrate chain as an energy fuel.

Q. Is cassava safe for infants?

A. Yes, cassava is safe for infants. However, before feeding them to babies, you should boil them to remove the inherent poisons.

Q. How do you get the poison out of cassava?

A. Cassava’s inherent toxin levels can be reduced by peeling and boiling the skin. Boiling the roots in salted water for roughly 10-15 minutes softens and protects them.

Q. What happens if raw cassava is consumed?

A. Consumption of raw cassava results in cyanide poisoning. It causes nausea, headaches, stomach pain, vomiting, and, in extreme cases, death. Even improperly handled cassava roots are toxic to the human body.

Q. Does cassava contain a lot of sugar?

A. Cassava roots contain 1.7 grammes of sugar per 100 gramme serving. As a result, cassava contains far less naturally occurring sugar. However, although having minimal sugar, it is not ideal for diabetic individuals due to the high carbohydrates.

Q: Does cassava flour cause blood sugar spikes?

A. Cassava flour has a high carbohydrate content. As a result, it may produce an insulin spike and elevate blood sugar even further. This is due to the fact that carbohydrates are broken down into simple sugars during digestion. As a result, after consuming cassava flour, blood sugar levels progressively rise.