Amazing Benefits of Eating Cassava and Uses. Cassava is a vegetable that is a staple ingredient of many diets worldwide. It is a good source of nutrients, but people should avoid eating it raw.
Raw cassava contains cyanide, which is toxic to ingest, so it is vital to prepare it correctly. In the United States, people grind cassava down to make tapioca, which they eat as a pudding or use as a thickening agent.
In this article, we provide an overview of this vegetable and explain its benefits, risks, and how to prepare it.
What is Cassava?
Cassava is a root vegetable. It is the underground part of the cassava shrub, which has the Latin name Manihot esculenta. Like potatoes and yams, it is a tuber crop. Cassava roots have a similar shape to sweet potatoes.
People can also eat the leaves of the cassava plant. Humans living along the banks of the Amazon River in South America grew and consumed cassava hundreds of years before Christopher Columbus first voyaged there.
What is Cassava Used for?
Cassava is a rich, affordable source of carbohydrates. It can provide more calories per acre of the crop than other cereals, which makes it a very useful crop in the developing world.
People prepare and eat cassava in various ways in different parts of the world, with baking and boiling being the most common methods. In some places, people ferment cassava before using it.
It is essential to peel cassava and never eat it raw. It contains dangerous levels of cyanide unless a person cooks it thoroughly before eating it.
Dishes that people can make using cassava include:
- bread, which can contain cassava flour only, or both cassava and wheat flour
- French fries
- mashed cassava
- cassava chips
- cassava bread soaked in coconut milk
- cassava cake
- cassava in coconut sauce
- yuca con mojo, a Cuban dish that combines cassava with a sauce comprising citrus juices, garlic, onion, cilantro, cumin, and oregano
In addition to eating cassava, people also use it for:
- making tapioca, which is a common dessert food
- making starch and flour products, which people can use to make gluten-free bread
- feeding animals
- making medications, fabrics, paper, and building materials, such as plywood
Scientists may eventually be able to replace high-fructose corn syrup with cassava starch. Researchers are also hoping that cassava could be a source of the alcohol that manufacturers use to make polystyrene, PVC, and other industrial products.
Benefits and Nutritional of Cassava
Cassava is a calorie-rich vegetable that contains plenty of carbohydrate and key vitamins and minerals.
Cassava is a good source of vitamin C, thiamine, riboflavin, and niacin. The leaves, which are also edible if a person cooks them or dries them in the sun, can contain up to 25 percent protein.
However, the cassava root does not deliver the same nutritional value as other tuber vegetables.
Tapioca starch is gaining attention as a source of gluten-free flour to make bread and other baked products that are suitable for people with an intolerance to gluten.
Cassava is a source of resistant starch, which scientists suggest can boost a person’s gut health by helping nurture beneficial gut bacteria. Resistant starches remain relatively unchanged as they pass through the digestive tract.
The nutritional profile of 1 cup of raw cassava Trusted Source is as follows:
- calories: 330
- protein: 2.8 grams (g)
- carbohydrate: 78.4 g
- fiber: 3.7 g
- calcium: 33.0 milligrams (mg)
- magnesium: 43.0 mg
- potassium: 558.0 mg
- vitamin C: 42.4 mg
- thiamine, riboflavin, and niacin
Cassava contains only small amounts of proteins and fats. As a result, people who use cassava as a primary dietary staple may need to eat extra protein or take protein supplements to avoid becoming malnourished.
Since cassava leaves are a source of protein, people in some parts of the world emphasize combining the roots and leaves of the plant to address this concern.