Cassava or yuca is a nutty flavoured, starchy tuber of South-American origin. The sweet crunchy underground tuber has been a popular edible root for centuries in many parts of Africa, Asia and South American indigenous people. Together with other tropical roots and starch-rich foods like yam, taro, plantains, potato, etc., it too is an indispensable part of carbohydrate diet of millions of inhabitants living in these regions.
Health benefits of Cassava
- Cassava has nearly twice the calories than potatoes, perhaps highest for any tropical starch rich tubers and roots. 100 g root provides 160 calories. Their calorie mainly comes from sucrose forming the bulk of the sugars in tubers, accounting for more than 69% of the total sugars. Complex sugar amylose is another major carbohydrate source (16-17%).
- Cassava is very low in fats and protein than in cereals and pulses. Nonetheless, it has more protein than that of other tropical food sources like yam, potato, plantains, etc.
- As in other roots and tubers, cassava too is free from gluten. Gluten-free starch is used in special food preparations for celiac disease patients.
- Young tender cassava (yuca) leaves are a good source of dietary proteins and vitamin K. Vitamin-K has a potential role in bone mass building by promoting osteotrophic activity in the bones. It also has established role in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease patients by limiting neuronal damage in the brain.
- Cassava is a moderate source of some of the valuable B-complex group of vitamins such as folates, thiamin, pyridoxine (vitamin B-6), riboflavin, and pantothenic acid.
- The root is the chief source of some important minerals like zinc, magnesium, copper, iron, and manganese for many inhabitants in the tropical belts. In addition, it has adequate amounts of potassium (271 mg per 100g or 6% of RDA). Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids that help regulate heart rate and blood pressure.
See also : Cassava Culinary Uses