What is a Cassava?
Manihot esculenta, commonly called cassava, manioc, yuca, mandioca and Brazilian arrowroot,is a woody shrub native to South America of the spurge family, Euphorbiaceae. It is extensively cultivated as an annual crop in tropical and subtropical regions for its edible starchy tuberous root, a major source of carbohydrates. Though it is often called yuca in Spanish and in the United States, it differs from yucca, an unrelated fruit-bearing shrub in the family Asparagaceae. Cassava, when dried to a powdery (or pearly) extract, is called tapioca; its fried, granular form is named garri.
Cassava is the third-largest source of food carbohydrates in the tropics, after rice and maize.Cassava is a major staple food in the developing world, providing a basic diet for over half a billion people. It is one of the most drought-tolerant crops, capable of growing on marginal soils. Nigeria is the world’s largest producer of cassava, while Thailand is the largest exporter of dried cassava.
Cassava is classified as either sweet or bitter. Like other roots and tubers, both bitter and sweet varieties of cassava contain anti-nutritional factors and toxins, with the bitter varieties containing much larger amounts. It must be properly prepared before consumption, as improper preparation of cassava can leave enough residual cyanide to cause acute cyanide intoxication, goiters, and even ataxia, partial paralysis, or death. The more toxic varieties of cassava are a fall-back resource (a “food security crop”) in times of famine or food insecurity in some places. Farmers often prefer the bitter varieties because they deter pests, animals, and thieves
Cassava contain calories, proteins, fat, carbohydrates, iron, Vitamin B and C and also starch. The leaves contain calcium, iron, fats and protein too. They have many health benefits which includes heart health, aids in digestion, prevents cancer risk, brain health among others.
History Of Cassava
Wild populations of M. esculenta subspecies flabellifolia, shown to be the progenitor of domesticated cassava, are centered in west-central Brazil, where it was likely first domesticated no more than 10,000 years BP. Forms of the modern domesticated species can also be found growing in the wild in the south of Brazil. By 4,600 BC, manioc (cassava) pollen appears in the Gulf of Mexico lowlands, at the San Andrés archaeological site. The oldest direct evidence of cassava cultivation comes from a 1,400-year-old Maya site, Joya de Cerén, in El Salvador. With its high food potential, it had become a staple food of the native populations of northern South America, southern Mesoamerica, and the Caribbean by the time of European contact in 1492. Cassava was a staple food of pre-Columbian peoples in the Americas and is often portrayed in indigenous art. The Moche people often depicted yuca in their ceramics.
Spaniards in their early occupation of Caribbean islands did not want to eat cassava or maize, which they considered insubstantial, dangerous, and not nutritious. They much preferred foods from Spain, specifically wheat bread, olive oil, red wine, and meat, and considered maize and cassava damaging to Europeans. For these Christians in the New World, cassava was not suitable for communion since it could not undergo transubstantiation and become the body of Christ. “Wheat flour was the symbol of Christianity itself” and colonial-era catechisms stated explicitly that only wheat flour could be used.
The cultivation and consumption of cassava was nonetheless continued in both Portuguese and Spanish America. Mass production of cassava bread became the first Cuban industry established by the Spanish, Ships departing to Europe from Cuban ports such as Havana, Santiago, Bayamo, and Baracoa carried goods to Spain, but sailors needed to be provisioned for the voyage. The Spanish also needed to replenish their boats with dried meat, water, fruit, and large amounts of cassava bread. Sailors complained that it caused them digestive problems. Tropical Cuban weather was not suitable for wheat planting and cassava would not go stale as quickly as regular bread.
Cassava was introduced to Africa by Portuguese traders from Brazil in the 16th century. Around the same period, it was also introduced to Asia through Columbian Exchange by Portuguese and Spanish traders, planted in their colonies in Goa, Malacca, Eastern Indonesia, Timor and the Philippines. Maize and cassava are now important staple foods, replacing native African crops. Cassava has also become an important staple in Asia, extensively cultivated in Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam. Cassava is sometimes described as the “bread of the tropics” but should not be confused with the tropical and equatorial bread tree (Encephalartos), the breadfruit (Artocarpus altilis) or the African breadfruit (Treculia africana).
Uses Of Cassava
Main article: Alcoholic beverage & Beverages by type
Alcoholic beverages made from cassava include cauim and tiquira (Brazil), kasiri (Guyana, Suriname), impala (Mozambique), masato (Peruvian Amazonia chicha), parakari or kari (Guyana), nihamanchi (South America) also known as nijimanche (Ecuador and Peru), ö döi (chicha de yuca, Ngäbe-Bugle, Panama), sakurá (Brazil, Suriname), tarul ko jaarh (Darjeeling, Sikkim, India).
Main article: Cassava-based dishes
Cassava-based dishes are widely consumed wherever the plant is cultivated; some have regional, national, or ethnic importance. Cassava must be cooked properly to detoxify it before it is eaten. Cassava can be cooked in many ways. The root of the sweet variety has a delicate flavor and can replace potatoes. It is used in cholent in some households. It can be made into a flour that is used in breads, cakes and cookies. In Brazil, detoxified manioc is ground and cooked to a dry, often hard or crunchy meal known as farofa used as a condiment, toasted in butter, or eaten alone as a side dish.
Cassava, like other foods, also has antinutritional and toxic factors. Of particular concern are the cyanogenic glucosides of cassava (linamarin and lotaustralin). On hydrolysis, these release hydrocyanic acid (HCN). The presence of cyanide in cassava is of concern for human and for animal consumption. The concentration of these antinutritional and unsafe glycosides varies considerably between varieties and also with climatic and cultural conditions. Selection of cassava species to be grown, therefore, is quite important. Once harvested, bitter cassava must be treated and prepared properly prior to human or animal consumption, while sweet cassava can be used after simply boiling.
Comparison with other major staple foods
A comparative table shows that cassava is a good energy source. In its prepared forms in which its toxic or unpleasant components have been reduced to acceptable levels, it contains an extremely high proportion of starch. Compared to most staples however, cassava accordingly is a poorer dietary source of protein and most other essential nutrients. Though an important staple, its main value is as a component of a balanced diet.
Comparisons between the nutrient content of cassava and other major staple foods when raw, as shown in the table, must be interpreted with caution because most staples are not edible in such forms and many are indigestible, even dangerously poisonous or otherwise harmful. For consumption, each must be prepared and cooked as appropriate. Suitably cooked or otherwise prepared, the nutritional and antinutritional contents of each of these staples is widely different from that of raw form and depends on the methods of preparation such as soaking, fermentation, sprouting, boiling, or baking.
In many countries, significant research has begun to evaluate the use of cassava as an ethanol biofuel feedstock. Under the Development Plan for Renewable Energy in the Eleventh Five-Year Plan in the People’s Republic of China, the target is to increase the production of ethanol fuel from nongrain feedstock to two million tonnes, and that of biodiesel to 200 thousand tonnes by 2010. This is equivalent to the replacement of 10 million tonnes of petroleum. As a result, cassava (tapioca) chips have gradually become a major source of ethanol production. On 22 December 2007, the largest cassava ethanol fuel production facility was completed in Beihai, with annual output of 200 thousand tons, which would need an average of 1.5 million tons of cassava. In November 2008, China-based Hainan Yedao Group reportedly invested US$51.5m (£31.8m) in a new biofuel facility that is expected to produce 33 million US gallons (120,000 m3) a year of bioethanol from cassava plants.
Cassava tubers and hay are used worldwide as animal feed. Cassava hay is harvested at a young growth stage (three to four months) when it reaches about 30 to 45 cm (12 to 18 in) above ground; it is then sun-dried for one to two days until its final dry matter content approaches 85 percent. Cassava hay contains high protein (20–27 percent crude protein) and condensed tannins (1.5–4 percent CP). It is valued as a good roughage source for ruminants such as cattle.
Manioc is also used in a number of commercially available laundry products, especially as starch for shirts and other garments. Using manioc starch diluted in water and spraying it over fabrics before ironing helps stiffen collars.
According to the American Cancer Society, cassava is ineffective as an anti-cancer agent: “there is no convincing scientific evidence that cassava or tapioca is effective in preventing or treating cancer”.
Cassava plant is an herbaceous and perennial plant growing upto 3-5 m in height. It bears dark green leaves which measure a foot in across and possess small sized greenish-yellow flowers. It grows best in tropical climate and thrives in moist, fertile and well-drained soils. The plant possesses the fibrous and reddish brown bark with the smooth erect stem. The plant yields the light yellow, white and dark brown fruit of subglobose ellipsoid shape with 1 cm (1/2 inch) as a diameter. The Cassava plant lives upto one year.
Roots are edible, globular and bulky. The root is long and tapered having 1-4 inches as diameter and 8-15 inches in length with fibrous skin whose color ranges in brown. The root weighs about 40 kg. The flesh is firm and homogeneous which ranges from chalk-white to yellowish in color. Cassava tubers can grow upto 8-15 inches in length and 1-4 inches in width. The tubers most often weigh from 1 to 7 pounds. The rough and woody textured skin of tuber varies in color from gray to brown. Cassava possess the nutty flavor.
Cassava Nutrition Value
Cassava is native to Brazil and Paraguay and is a staple food throughout Indonesia and Thailand, as well as parts of Africa. Its roots serve as an excellent source of starch and, at 330 calories per cup, cassava provides energy you need to fuel your active lifestyle. Adding cassava to your diet offers health benefits because of its vitamin, mineral and fiber content, but you must only eat cassava after it has been cooked to avoid exposure to toxins.
The nutrient composition found in Cassava differs according to soil conditions, variety, environmental factors and climate. 100 gm of Cassava provides 1.8 gm dietary fiber, 1.36 gm protein, 16 mg calcium, 27 mg phosphorus, 20.6 mg Vitamin C and others.
Calories 160 Kcal.Calories from Fat 2.52 Kcal.
|Total Fat (lipid)||0.28 g||0.80%|
|Total dietary Fiber||1.8 g||4.74%|
|Total Sugars||1.7 g||N/D|
|Calcium, Ca||16 mg||1.60%|
|Iron, Fe||0.27 mg||3.38%|
|Magnesium, Mg||21 mg||5.00%|
|Phosphorus, P||27 mg||3.86%|
|Potassium, K||271 mg||5.77%|
|Sodium, Na||14 mg||0.93%|
|Zinc, Zn||0.34 mg||3.09%|
|Copper, Cu||0.1 mg||11.11%|
|Manganese, Mn||0.384 mg||16.70%|
|Selenium, Se||0.7 µg||1.27%|
|Vitamin C (Ascorbic acid)||20.6 mg||22.89%|
|Vitamin B1 (Thiamin)||0.087 mg||7.25%|
|Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)||0.048 mg||3.69%|
|Vitamin B3 (Niacin)||0.854 mg||5.34%|
|Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic acid)||0.107 mg||2.14%|
|Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine)||0.088 mg||6.77%|
|Vitamin B9 (Folate, Folic acid)||27 µg||6.75%|
|Vitamin A||1 µg||0.14%|
|Vitamin A, IU||13 IU||N/D|
|Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol)||0.19 mg||1.27%|
|Vitamin K (phylloquinone)||1.9 µg||1.58%|
|Fatty acids, total saturated||0.074 g||0.11%|
|Lauric acid (dodecanoic acid) 12:00||0.001 g||N/D|
|Palmitic acid 16:00 (Hexadecanoic acid)||0.069 g||N/D|
|Stearic acid 18:00 (Octadecanoic acid)||0.005 g||N/D|
|Fatty acids, total monounsaturated|
|Oleic acid 18:1 (octadecenoic acid)||0.075 g||N/D|
|Fatty acids, total polyunsaturated||0.048 g||0.28%|
|Linoleic acid 18:2 (octadecadienoic acid)||0.032 g||N/D|
|Linolenic acid 18:3 (Octadecatrienoic acid)||0.017 g||N/D|
|Amino Acids||Amount||% DV|
|Aspartic acid||0.079 g||N/D|
|Glutamic acid||0.206 g||N/D|
Amount Per 100 grams
- Calories 159
- Fat 0.3 g
- Cholesterol 0 mg
- Sodium 14 mg
- Potassium 271 mg – 7% RDA
- Carbohydrate 38 g – 12% RDA
- Dietary fiber 1.8 g – 7% RDA
- Sugar 1.7 g
- Protein 1.4 g – 2% RDA
- Vitamin C 34% RDA
- Calcium 1% RDA
- Iron 1% RDA
- Vitamin B-6 5% RDA
- Magnesium 5% RDA
Contains a Few Key Nutrients
A 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving of boiled cassava root contains 112 calories. 98% of these are from carbs and the rest are from a small amount of protein and fat. This serving also provides fiber, as well as a few vitamins and minerals. The following nutrients are found in 3.5 ounces (100 grams) of boiled cassava:
Carbs: 27 grams
Fiber: 1 gram
Thiamine: 20% of the RDI
Phosphorus: 5% of the RDI
Calcium: 2% of the RDI
Riboflavin: 2% of the RDI
Boiled cassava root also contains small amounts of iron, vitamin C and niacin. Overall, the nutrition profile of cassava is unremarkable. While it does provide some vitamins and minerals, the amounts are minimal. There are many other root vegetables you can eat that will provide significantly more nutrients — beets and sweet potatoes, to name two.
It’s High in Calories
Cassava contains 112 calories per 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving, which is quite high compared to other root vegetables. For example, the same serving of sweet potatoes provides 76 calories, and the same amount of beets provides only 44. This is what makes cassava such an important crop for developing countries, since it is a significant source of calories.
However, its high calorie count may do more harm than good for the general population. Consuming high-calorie foods on a regular basis is associated with weight gain and obesity, so consume cassava in moderation and in reasonable portions. An appropriate serving size is about 1/3–1/2 cup (73–113 grams).
High in Resistant Starch
Cassava is high in resistant starch, a type of starch that bypasses digestion and has properties similar to soluble fiber. Consuming foods that are high in resistant starch may have several benefits for overall health. First of all, resistant starch feeds the beneficial bacteria in your gut, which may help reduce inflammation and promote digestive health.
Resistant starch has also been studied for its ability to contribute to better metabolic health and reduce the risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes. This is due to its potential to improve blood sugar control, in addition to its role in promoting fullness and reducing appetite. The benefits of resistant starch are promising, but it is important to note that many processing methods may lower cassava’s resistant starch content. Products made from cassava, such as flour, tend to be lower in resistant starch than cassava root that has been cooked and then cooled in its whole form.
One of cassava’s major downfalls is its content of anti-nutrients. Anti-nutrients are plant compounds that may interfere with digestion and inhibit the absorption of vitamins and minerals in the body. These aren’t a concern for most healthy people, but their effects are important to keep in mind. They are more likely to impact populations at risk of malnutrition. Interestingly, this includes populations that rely on cassava as a staple food.
Here are the most important antinutrients found in cassava:
- Saponins: Antioxidants that may have drawbacks, such as reduced absorption of some vitamins and minerals.
- Phytate: This antinutrient may interfere with the absorption of magnesium, calcium, iron and zinc.
- Tannins: Known for reducing protein’s digestibility and interfering with the absorption of iron, zinc, copper and thiamine.
The effects of antinutrients are more prominent when they are consumed frequently and as part of a nutritionally inadequate diet. As long as you only consume cassava on occasion, the antinutrients shouldn’t be a major cause for concern. In fact, under some circumstances, antinutrients such as tannins and saponins may actually have beneficial health effects.
Cassava comes loaded with carbohydrates, including the especially beneficial carbohydrate dietary fiber. Consuming fiber is linked to a number of health benefits, including lower blood pressure, reduced cholesterol levels, better control over your blood sugar levels and a lower risk of obesity. Each cup of cassava — approximately half of a root — boosts your fiber intake by 3.7 grams. This contributes 10 percent toward the fiber intake recommended for men and 14 percent toward the fiber intake recommended for women by the Institute of Medicine.
Magnesium and Copper
Nutrition Health Benefits of Cassava
Cassava also helps you consume more magnesium and copper. A diet rich in magnesium promotes life-long health, lowering your blood pressure and reducing your risk of osteoporosis, while a diet rich in copper helps support healthy nerve function. A cup of cassava contains 206 micrograms of copper, or 23 percent of the copper you need each day, determined by the Institute of Medicine. Cassava also increases your manganese intake by 0.8 milligram per serving — more than one-third of the daily requirement for men and 44 percent for women.
Vitamin C and Folate
The vitamin C and folate abundant in cassava also offer health benefits. Each cup of cassava contains 56 micrograms of folate, or 14 percent of your daily folate intake requirements, as well as 42 milligrams of vitamin E. This amount contributes 56 and 47 percent towards the daily vitamin C intake recommendations for women and men, set by the Institute of Medicine. Including more folate in your diet protects against colon cancer and reduces the risk of complications during pregnancy and a diet high in vitamin C offers protection against coronary heart disease and several types of cancer.
Amazing Health Benefits of Cassava
1. Heart Health
Cassava help lower low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol which are considered as “bad” cholesterol, and may help to lower the triglyceride levels due to its high dietary fibre content. Cassava are a good source of saponins which help lower unhealthy cholesterol levels in the bloodstream by binding the bile acids and cholesterol thus preventing it from being absorbed by small intestines.
2. Strengthens Bones and Teeth
Cassava contains calcium which is necessary for keeping strong bones and teeth. The Vitamin-K which found in Cassava leaves also has a potential role in bone mass building by promoting osteotrophic activity in the bones and preventing losing minerals especially calcium.
3. Regulates Blood Pressure
Potassium in cassava play as important component of cell and body fluids that help regulate heart rate and blood pressure. Potassium is also a vasodilator which help widen the blood vessels thereby reducing blood pressure.
4. Aids in Weight loss
Cassava contains amylose which is a major complex carbohydrate sources which slowly break down by the body and promotes satiety. Fiber also helps individuals to lose weight by maintaining long last satiety.
5. Lowers Blood Sugar
The fiber in cassava make the process absorption of sugar into the bloodstream slower.
6. Reduces Cancer Risk
Cassava contains some antioxidant which play important role from preventing free radicals to enter the body and promoting cancer. The powerful antioxidant including Vitamin C, beta carotene and Saponins. Those antioxidant are known to help the body protect your cells from damage by free radicals and repair broken DNA. A study of Fitoterapia by scientists from Tianjin University found that saponins which contained by plants may help prevent cancer. This study published in the October 2010
7. Help alleviate stress and anxiety
The vitamins and minerals in cassava roots and leaves also known to help the body in alleviate stress and anxiety by promoting good mood. Magnesium which contained by cassava is well know as stress reliever and play role in calming the nervous system.
8. Prevent Anemia
Iron present in cassava helps the body to form two important proteins hemoglobin (protein molecule in red blood cell ) and myoglobin (protein found in heart and muscle) which help to carry oxygen to the whole body tissue. This help to prevent the body from iron deficiency which leads to anemia and help the process of in renewing red blood cells.
9. Brain Health
Vitamin K which found young tender cassava leaves also has been proven which has established role in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease patients by limiting neuronal damage in the brain. The adequate intake of amount Vitamin K also protecting brain from losing cell function.
10. Promote Pro-biotics growing and boost immune system
Fiber in cassava especially the leaves can promotes the growth of probiotics or good bacteria in guts and probiotics itself is famous known as part of immune system. The growth of good bacteria in human guts can boosts immunity by limiting the number of pathogenic microorganism in the body.
11. Helps Smoothen and Brighten your Skin
The peel of the Cassava is an excellent remedy for any skin problems. You do not have to worry about those scars anymore as you can get rid of them with a simple solution. Cut the peels of Cassava and mix them into a paste. Spread that paste over your face or other affected areas for an hour and simply wash it to get the maximum result. You can also use it as a scrub to get rid of the extra oil in your face and shut the pores. This will help rejuvenate your skin and give you that necessary glow.
12. Helps Hair Grow Faster
Many people get bald well before their time, and this is attributed to the atmospheric conditions as well the nutrition you receive daily. One of the ways to eliminate this problem is to mix Cassava into a paste form and apply it to the hair for an hour or two. Carefully wash your hair afterward to see the effects of the root. Repeat this process twice a week to make the results more prominent. A month into the remedy and you will find your hair growing way faster than before.
13. Helps with Hair Fall
One of the biggest concerns of a female is hair fall. It could be because of a poor diet or a bad environment. Women often try several ways to stop hair fall but only succeed a few times. This can, however, change through the use of the Cassava root. It help nourish the tips of your hair and also help revitalize the rear ends. This eventually leads to a reduction in the hair fall rate.
14. Amazing for Digestive System
The fiber present in it plays a dual role when assisting your body. It also helps improve your digestive system by absorbing all the toxins from your intestines and allowing a reduction in inflammation. This, therefore, keeps you healthy and away from any gastrointestinal problems.
15. Helps you Overcome Headaches
Migraines and headaches can sometimes overwhelm a person’s reasoning as well as emotions. They are extremely painful, and unless you take proper treatment, they will not go away anytime soon. This is where the Cassava roots and leaves are praised for their medicinal purposes. You can not only consume them in such situations but also wash and blend them up into juice. Drinking Cassava juice twice a day will prevent any future headaches from occurring.
16. Treats Diarrhea
As we move towards the medical implications of the Cassava root, it is worth mentioning how it has antioxidants present that help with diarrhea situations. Boiling the vegetable in water for an hour and then consuming it can help clean your stomach of all bacteria that plague it. This leads to a reduction in Diarrheic symptoms and gradually an improvement in performance.
17. It’s good for your Eyes
The importance of Cassava as both a medicinal plant as well a vegetable is important to distinguish between. If consumed, Cassavas provide some vitamins and minerals to the body that we require daily. One of the vitamins that help in eyesight improvement is Vitamin A, and fortunately, Cassava is full of it.
18. Helps Cure Fever
A well-known benefit of Cassava is how it helps in curing fever. Cassava leaves can be used to make a decoction that can help relieve you of feverish conditions. They can also help with the weakness and the pains you feel while your body is fighting off the bacteria inside your body. The Cassava leaf can also be eaten after boiling it for an hour, and this helps in improving your health.
19. Heals Wounds
It’s leaves are known to work like Aloe Vera if applied to a wound. Either it is fresh or an old one; the Cassava leaf will work its magic because it is full of nutrients that help prevent infection as well as speed up the healing process. Squeezing the pulp out of the Cassava leaf and applying it to a burned area can also provide relief in many ways.
20. Clears up Worms
Nematode infestation has to do with the worms that form inside your intestine and stomach. To prevent this from happening, researchers started feeding Cassava roots to a few patients, and after a month or so, the results found that the worms were eliminated from the systems of the people.
21. Cassava Helps in Regaining Appetite
Waking up early in the morning, you might not feel the need to eat. There are other such instances in your daily life where you start avoiding eating whether it is because of depression or anxiety. The Cassava root can help change that and restore your appetite, so you do not have to worry too much about losing too many important nutrients.
23. Beneficial for Pregnant Women
The major needs of women during their pregnancy are folate, and Vitamin C. The Cassava plant has plenty of both, and therefore you will get your requirement of nutrients. Although they have a bland taste, you can always chop the leaves and add them to salads or other meat dishes.
24. Great Face Mask
Cassava plants also act as great face masks. Before you prepare your face mask, make sure you have washed your face with warm water. This will help in opening up the pores. The cassava mask will easily get absorbed and improve the texture and condition of your skin. Once you have washed your face, wait for it to dry completely. You may now rinse with cold water so that the pores close. Use your fingers to dry them. Doing this thrice a week will prevent and eliminate scars and impart a healthy glow in return.
25. Hydrates The Skin
Cassava can also hydrate your skin tone and make it smooth and soft. You will have to prepare a mask for this one at home. Take cassava plant roots with some honey or olive oil. You can combine it with a fruit too. A few drops of lemon will also do.
26. Removes Scars And Spots
Cassava starch water can help in healing wounds and scars if you apply gently all over the affected area around twice a day.
27. Provides Nourishment Of The Hair
Cassava plants are a powerhouse of nourishment. If you have hair that is dry or damaged, consider this plant and let it help repair all the damage.
28. Help Treat Rheumatic Diseases
Rheumatic diseases refer to diseases pertaining to the muscles and joints. Osteoporosis, arthritis, spondylitis and lupus are some examples. Cassava leaves are rich in magnesium. In fact, a diet high in magnesium leads to lowered blood pressure levels that reduces the chances of rheumatic diseases throughout life.
Cassava supplies more than a third of your daily magnesium requirement per serving. To make an all natural rheumatic medication, take 150 grams of cassava leaves, some lemongrass and salt along with 15 grams of ginger root. Boil these ingredients in a liter of water until the volume has reduced to about 400ccs. Drink this potion every morning to keep rheumatic diseases at bay.
29. Help Fight Kwashiorkor
Cassava leaves are full of lysine protein. This makes the leaves perfect for fighting against protein deficiency conditions like Kwashiorkor. However, depending on cassava as the sole source of protein can be harmful if the leaves are not cooked properly. There is evidence suggesting cassava containing cyanogenic glucosides. This can lead to loss of eyesight and cyanide poisoning. So the tuber and leaves must be washed properly, and cooked well before eating.
30. Maintains Healthy Muscles
If you are health conscious, cassava flour will definitely help you build strong and lean muscles. It contains protein that maintains your muscle health and nourishes the tissues. One serving contains 2 grams of protein, which is enough to meet your daily requirements.
31. Makes You Less Prone To Diseases
With cassava flour, you can lower the chances of diseases such as osteoporosis. This is because it contains essential minerals such as copper and magnesium that promote a healthy lifestyle. One cup of cassava contains only 206 grams of copper, which covers around 24% of your daily requirement.
How to Make Cassava Safer for Consumption
Cassava is generally safe when it is prepared properly and eaten occasionally in moderate amounts. A reasonable serving size is about 1/3–1/2 cup.
Here are some ways you can make cassava safer for consumption:
- Peel it: The peel of cassava root contains most of the cyanide-producing compounds.
- Soak it: Soaking cassava by submerging it in water for 48–60 hours before it is cooked and eaten may reduce the amount of harmful chemicals it contains.
- Cook it: Since the harmful chemicals are found in raw cassava, it’s essential to cook it thoroughly — by boiling, roasting or baking, for example.
- Pair it with protein: Eating some protein along with cassava may be beneficial, since protein helps rid the body of toxic cyanide.
- Maintain a balanced diet: You can prevent adverse effects from cassava by including a variety of foods in your diet and not relying on it as your sole source of nutrition.
It’s important to note that products made from cassava root, such as cassava flour and tapioca, contain extremely little to no cyanide-inducing compounds and are safe for human consumption.
How to Use Cassava
There are many ways you can incorporate cassava into your diet. You can prepare several snacks and dishes with the root on its own. It is commonly sliced and then baked or roasted, similar to the way you would prepare a potato. Additionally, cassava root can be mashed or mixed in with stir-fries, omelets and soups. It’s also sometimes ground into flour and used in bread and crackers. You can also enjoy it in the form of tapioca, which is a starch extracted from the cassava root through a process of washing and pulping. Tapioca is commonly used as a thickener for puddings, pies and soups.
Preparation Of Cassava
Cassava is incredibly versatile; it can be boiled, baked, steamed, grilled, fried, mashed, or added to stews. Frequently, it is served with meat sprinkled with salt, pepper, and lime juice. Many recipes call for it to be grated. When cooked, it turns yellow, slightly translucent, a little sweet, and chewy. The root can also be made into a ground meal or flour by washing, peeling, and grating it and then pressing out the juice and drying the meal. The meal can be bought already prepared and frozen. On the French-influenced islands, cassava meal is known as farine, a shortened form of farine de manioc.
Cassava can also be made into several other items. Tapioca is cassava starch used in puddings and as a thickening agent. Other preparations include dough for empanadas and tamales, chips, and fritters. Cassareep, an essential ingredient in pepperpot, is a concoction of boiled down cassava juice combined with other spices. Dominicans make a savory yuca turnover called cativías. In Jamaica, bam bam is the collective term used for food made from cassava such as bread, pancakes, and muffins. Bammy, or bammie, is thick bread made from cassava flour. It’s usually eaten with fried fish or saltfish and ackee.
When buying cassava roots look for firm roots, with no soft spots. Also, if possible, buy whole roots that have not had their ends removed.
Main Processing Methods Used Worldwide
Here is a comprehensive comparison of different processing methods published in the Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety Journal.
Boiling is not an effective method for cyanide removal (50%). The inefficiency of this processing method is due to the high temperatures. At 100 °C, linamarase, a heat-labile β-glucosidase, is denatured and linamarin cannot then be hydrolyzed into cyanohydrin.
However, using small-sized cassava pieces or increasing the volume of water in which cassava roots are boiled can increase the efficiency of the boiling method. For example by reducing cassava chip size, studies demonstrated that boiling 2- and 50-g pieces of cassava root for 30 min resulted in a 75% and 25% reduction in cyanide content, respectively.
Steaming, baking, and frying
The loss of cyanide resulting from steaming, baking, or frying is small due to processing temperatures of over 100 °C and to the stability of linamarin in neutral or weak acid conditions. These methods are only suitable for sweet cassava
Two kinds of drying are used for cassava: mechanical drying, such as in an oven, and natural drying by the sun. During oven-drying, an increase in drying temperature is accompanied by an increase in cyanide retention. Cyanide retention during sun-drying is lower than in oven-drying because the temperatures remain well below 55 °C. These temperatures are optimal for linamarase activity resulting in better cyanogen degradation. Generally, drying is not an efficient means of detoxification, especially for cassava varieties with high initial cyanogen glucoside content.
Fermentation by lactic acid bacteria is a processing method commonly used in Africa. Fermentation is done with grated or soaked cassava roots and results in a decrease in pH value. The fermentation of grated cassava roots is efficient at removing cyanogen glucosides. The process of roasting after fermentation of grated cassava, which is used for gari, is relatively efficient as free HCN and cyanohydrin are steadily removed into the atmosphere leaving little free HCN (3.4 mg/kg DW) and cyanohydrin (2.2 mg/kg DW). Cyanide content of gari further decreases during storage.
The fermentation of soaked roots in water is much more effective than that of grated roots in terms of cyanogen reduction. Indeed, more than 90% of total cyanogens were removed after 3 d of fermentation and about one-third of initial linamarin was found in the water. No significant accumulation of cyanohydrin or free cyanide was noted
Studies have showed that steam distillation of fresh cassava pulp resulted in total cyanogen removal for a minimum distillate volume of 100 mL (assumed to be normalized to 1 kg). Steam distillation of fermented pulp slowly removed cyanogens.
The process of starch extraction results in total cyanogen removal. Starch extraction involves different processing steps. First, cassava roots are grated or rasped, and then starch is extracted with a large volume of water; residues are removed by sieving. In this way, a complete hydrolysis of cyanogenic glucosides occurs, and cyanohydrins, free cyanide, and the remaining cyanogenic glucosides solubilize in the supernatant water.
Combination of several processing methods
To increase the efficiency of cyanogen removal, efficient processing techniques are usually combined with others that are less efficient.
Comparison of the different processing techniques
Methods involving grating and crushing are usually very efficient in cyanide removal because they completely rupture plant cells of cassava and allow direct contact between linamarase and linamarin. However, sun-drying and heap fermentation are less efficient because peeled roots are usually cut in half longitudinally and most of the plant cells remain intact. Hydrolysis of cyanogenic glucosides is prevented or reduced because linamarin and linamarase are located in different compartments of the plant cell. Heap fermentation retains half the cyanide of sun-drying because of the presence of microflora that can break down the linamarin during the fermentation process .
Boiling, which is relatively inefficient for removing cyanide (50%), is much more efficient than baking, steaming, or frying (15% to 20% of cyanogen removal). Even if linamarase is inactivated at high temperatures (100 °C), cyanogens are water-soluble and, therefore, they can be removed during the dewatering process.
Grated bitter yuca is used to make casabe, which is a traditional crisp, unleavened, flatbread popular in the Dominican Republic. In the United States, casabe is sold in specialty markets because bitter cassava is not available and it takes time and skill—a true Caribbean artisan bread; it’s as crisp as a cracker. The bread is sold in plastic bags or wrapped in paper and tied with a string. In the French-speaking islands, the bread is called pain de kassav and in the Spanish-speaking islands, it is called pan de casabe.
The indigenous people developed a method of extracting poisonous Prussic acid from the bitter cassava to make the bread. It involves peeling, washing, grating, and pressing using a matapie (hanging sack). The pressing removes the poisonous liquid. Once separated from the juice, the pulp is dried in the sun and then made into bread or wrapped in banana leaves for storage. The process was laborious and whole villages would take part in the preparations. The poisonous liquid was then used to spike their hunting spears and arrows.
Types Of Cassava
There are two varieties of cassava—sweet and bitter. Both contain Prussic acid (hydrocyanic acid), which can cause cyanide poisoning. Cooking or pressing the root thoroughly removes the poison. Cassava can never be eaten raw. Bitter, or wild, cassava contains enough acid so that it can be fatally poisonous if eaten raw or undercooked. To escape the Conquistadors, the oppressed natives were known to commit suicide by eating raw cassava.
Don’t be intimidated. You won’t come into contact with bitter cassava in U.S. stores. Sweet cassava is sold in American markets fresh or frozen. Bitter cassava is processed into safe edible flours and starches, which in turn are made into breads, pastries , and cakes.
How to Eat Cassava
- It can be boiled, steamed, mashed, baked, fried, grilled or added to the stews.
- The root can be made into a flour or ground meal by washing, peeling, grating, pressing the juice and then drying the meal.
- The young leaves and tubers are consumed raw, boiled or fried.
- The juice extract from the roots of cassava is flavored with cloves, cinnamon and sugar.
- It is also preserved and used as an ingredient to flavor soups and meat dishes.
- The flour of Cassava is used to make cake, bread or cookies.
Caribbean Cassava (Yuca) Fries Recipe
- 2 pounds cassava (yuca)
- salt to taste
- black pepper to taste
How to Make It
- Peel cassava (yuca) and cut into 4-inch pieces, lengthwise.
- Add cassava to a pot, cover with water and bring to a boil. When the pot comes to a boil, season with salt to taste. Let cassava cook until fork tender.
- Drain cooked cassava well and let cool to handle.
- Cut cassava pieces in half and remove the stem in the middle. Cut the halved pieces into 1/2-inch strips.
- Heat oil in a deep pan until smoking hot. Working in batches, fry cassava pieces until they are gently browned.
- Using a slotted spoon, remove cassava fries from hot oil and let drain on paper toweling. Season with black pepper and a sprinkling of salt.
- Serve just as you would French fries.
Pan de Yuca con Queso – Yuca Cheese Bread
- 1/2 cup yuca flour
- 1/2 pound shredded Hispanic fresh white cheese
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- Salt to taste
- 4 tablespoons Water to moisten the dough, if necessary
How to Make It
- Preheat the oven to 375 F. Grease a baking sheet while you’re waiting for the oven to warm up.
- Combine the yuca flour, cheese, egg, baking powder and salt in a mixing bowl.
- Knead the dough until it is completely mixed. If it’s dry and begins to crumble, add a little water, a tablespoon of water at a time, until the dough begins to hold together.
- Separate the dough into ten equal parts. Shape each part into a half moon shape or ball.
- Place the dough about 2 inches apart on the greased baking pan.
- Bake for 20 minutes. The bread should be a golden color when it’s done.
Serving Tips Of Cassava
- To make yuca safe for human consumption, boil the cut sections in salted water until tender for about 10-15 minutes. Drain and discard the water before using boiled cassava in various cooking recipes.
- Cassava tubers are familiar ingredients in fries, stew-fries, soups, and savory dishes all over the tropic regions.
- In general, cassava sections are fried in oil until brown and crisp and served with salt, and pepper seasoning in many Caribbean islands as a snack.
- Starch rich yuca (manioc) pulp is sieved to prepare white pearls (tapioca-starch), popular as sabudana in India, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. The beads employed in sweet pudding, savory fritters, sabudana-khichri, papad, etc.
- Cassava flour is also used to make bread, cake, cookies, etc. in several Caribbean islands.
- In Nigeria and Ghana, cassava flour is used along with yams to make fufu (polenta), which then savored with stews.
- Cassava chips and flakes are also widely eaten as a snack.
Negative Effects Of Cassava
Cassava may be dangerous if consumed raw, in large amounts or when it is prepared improperly. This is because raw cassava contains chemicals called cyanogenic glycosides, which can release cyanide in the body when consumed. When eaten frequently, these increase the risk of cyanide poisoning, which may impair thyroid and nerve function. It is associated with paralysis and organ damage, and can be fatal.
Those who have an overall poor nutrition status and low protein intake are more likely to experience these effects, since protein helps rid the body of cyanide. This is why cyanide poisoning from cassava is a greater concern for those who live in developing countries. Many people in these countries suffer from protein deficiencies and depend on cassava as a major source of calories. What’s more, in some areas of the world, cassava has been shown to absorb harmful chemicals from the soil, such as arsenic and cadmium. This may increase the risk of cancer in those who depend on cassava as a staple food.
Cassava root contains natural toxic cyanogenic glycoside compounds linamarin and methyl-linamarin. Injury to tuber releases linamarase enzyme from the ruptured cells, which then converts linamarin to poisonous hydrocyanic acid (HCN). Therefore, consumption of raw cassava root results in cyanide poisoning with symptoms of vomiting, nausea, dizziness, stomach pains, headache, and death. In general, cyanide content is substantially higher in its outer part and peel. While peeling lessens the cyanide content, sun drying, and soaking followed by boiling in salt-vinegar water results in evaporation of this compound and makes it safe for human consumption.
Prolong use of monotonous cassava diet may lead to chronic illness like tropical ataxic neuropathy (TAN) and Diabetes, especially among rural and tribal inhabitants who purely engaged in processing and consumption of cassava products.