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15 Health Benefits Of Cassava (No.5 Will Surprise You)

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Nowadays, rice is a common staple food in almost countries in the world and most source of carbohydrate that people love to eat especially in Asian countries. Since the alternative of staple food grows and people tend to consume other form of carbohydrate. One of the wellknown subtitutes of rice is cassava. The cassava plant ( Manihot esculenta  ) is a plant from family Euphorbiaceae that originated from South America. There are some parts in cassava that can be used for consumption. In the past, people regard cassava as “poor man” food but after studies and people found great benefits of cassava now paradigma has changed cassava into “rich man” food.

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History

It is believed tha cassava is originated from South America especially Brazil and Paraguay. People in South America has cultivated cassava since long ago before Colombus arrived in America.  There is a folklore based on mythology in Brazil that according to the story, a Tupi Woman who lived in Brazil long ago was devastated when she watched her child starved to death. Later after her child died because starvation, she buried her child under the floor of her hut. At night, a wood spirit visited her, known as “mani” and he changed the child’s body into root of plant and later it called as “mani oca” which means wood spirit root. The Amazonian Indians was known to used cassava to replace or as addition food to rice, potato or maize.

Later Europian sailor arrived on South America, they brought cassava and it was known that Portuguese explorers introduced cassava to Africa through trading with African people which lived in coast or nearby islands during 16th and 17th century. Africans later spread cassava further, and cassava is now found in almost parts of Africa especially with tropical climate.  Today Nigeria and Congo-Kinshasa are well known as the biggest producers of cassava after Brazil and Thailand.


The Main Use of Cassava

Nowadays the main use of cassava in most countries is for being consumed as food but in South Africa most cassava is used for the production of starch, which makes a good natural adhesive. The cassava starch also has large industrial application including in food prosseing, paper, wood , textile pharmaceutical chemical and none of the less the feed industries. Cassava also contain high content fermentable substances which are approriate criteria for alcohol production. The fresh cassava tubers contain about 30% starch and 5% sugars, and the dried tubers contain approximately 80% fermentable substances. This amount of  fermentable substances in cassava are equivalent to rice as a source of alcolhol.


Description of Plant

The cassava plant is a herbaceous parrenial plant which means it can grow almost whole year and can grows to a height about 2.4 m under cultivation and 3 – 5 m if they grow wild.  There are more than five thousand varieties of cassava but two common types of cassava are Bitter and Sweet cassava. The sweet type is commonly grown rather than bitter one because of its greater yields. The sweet cassava contain less linamarin or cyanogenic glucoside which known as toxic substance in cassava.

Cassava is plant which grow best in warm and humid area with a range of temperature of tropical countries which located between 15 degrees North and 15 degrees South latitudes. Tropical lowlands below an altitude of 150m where temperatures average 25 °C and 29 °C are supposed to produce the most number of cassava tubers. Some varieties also can grow at altitudes of up to 1 500 m. As a tropical crop, it makes cassava as a short-day plant and more than 12 hours of daylight can disturb or delays in tubering (starch storage) and eventually low yields,while short light periods enhance flowering. Those makes cassava cant grow in area which has temperature under 10 degrees celcius and frost area.

Cassava grows best on light, sandy loams or on loamy sands which are moist, fertile and deep, but it also does well on soils ranging in texture from sands to clays and on soils of relatively low fertility. In practice, it is grown on a wide range of soils, provided the soil texture is friable enough to allow the development of the tubers.

Roots

Cassava roots are large and long tuberous, tapered, with firm, homogeneous flesh which can reach 5kgs weight. Cassava tubers are extremely rich in starch and the most richest starch plant among any flood plant. The starch in cassava is 10 times as much starch in corn and twice as much as potatoes.

Stems

 The stem of cassava erects and radiates from the tuber and has white milky latex inside the brown skin. Usually when the plant grows high, the main stem will be divided into three branches, each of the branch then divides in the same way.

Leaves:

The leaves of cassava are large and palmate (hand –shaped) and have five to seven lobes borne on a long, slender petiole. The leaves of cassava are dark green on surface and light green under and grow only towards the end of the branches.

Flowers and fruit:

Cassava can also grows flower and fruit that uncommonly known. There are two types of flower in cassava plant, Male and Female.  Male and female flowers are found in same plant and they are arranged in loose plumes. The fruit has globose capsule shape with 1,2 cm in diameter and six winged ribs. Each of the fruit capsule contains three seeds.

Among the parts of cassava, the roots or tubers and the leaves are the most essential part of cassava that can be consumed by people.


Nutritional Value of Cassava Roots and Leaves

 Proximate composition (100 g)          Raw Cassava          Cassava roots    Cassava leaves

Food energy (kcal)                                                         160                  110 to 149                        91

Food energy (KJ)                                                           667                  526 to 611                   209 to 251

Moisture (g)                                                                 59.68               45.9 to 85.3                64.8 to 88.6

Dry weight (g)                                                             40.32               29.8 to 39.3                  19 to 28.3

Protein (g)                                                                       1.36                 0.3 to 3.5                    1.0 to 10.0

Lipid (g)                                                                          0.28                 0.03 to 0.5                  0.2 to 2.9

Carbohydrate, total (g)                                              38.06               25.3 to 35.7                    7 to 18.3

Dietary fiber (g)                                                             1.8                   0.1 to 3.7                     0.5 to 10.0

Ashe (g)                                                                         0.62                 0.4 to 1.7                        0.7 to 4.5

Vitamins

Thiamin (mg)                                                              0.087               0.03 to 0.28                0.06 to 0.31

Riboflavin (mg)                                                         0.048               0.03 to 0.06                 0.21 to 0.74

Niacin (mg)                                                                 0.854               0.6 to 1.09                      1.3 to 2.8

Ascorbic acid (mg)                                                     20.6                 14.9 to 50                      60 to 370

Vitamin A (μg)                                                            —                   5.0 to 35.0                 8300 to 11800f

Vitamin K (μg)                                                          40                    35 to 78                                 90

Minerals

Calcium (mg)                                                             16                   19 to 176                            34 to 708

Phosphorus, total (mg)                                            27                    6 to 152                            27 to 211

Ca/P                                                                             0.6                   1.6 to 5.48                            2.5

Iron (mg)                                                                  0.27                 0.3 to 14.0                          0.4 to 8.3

Potassiumg (%)                                                         —                    0.25 (0.72)                     0.35 (1.23)

Magnesium (%)                                                         —                    0.03 (0.08)                     0.12 (0.42)

Copper (ppm)                                                            —                    2.00 (6.00)                    3.00 (12.0)

Zinc (ppm)                                                                 —                    14.00 (41.00)                 71.0 (249.0)

Sodium (ppm)                                                        76.00                    (213.00)                        51.0 (177.0)

Manganese (ppm)                                                     —                    3.00 (10.00)                 72.0 (252.0)

  Values were obtained from the USDA Natl. Nutrient database for standard references (http://www.nal.usda.gov/fnic/foodcomp/search/). Nutrient values and weights are for edible portion.


Cassava or Yuca (in Spanish word) or manioc has many benefits of health. Here are some description of the health benefits of cassava roots and leaves :

1. Provide energy to support your activities

In 100 gram serving, cassava roots or yucca contains 38 grams of carbohydrates and serve about 160kcal. This makes cassava as excellent energy source for individuals body who experience strenuous physical activities. Energy from After consuming cassava, the carbohydrates which present in cassava will be broken into glucose which acts as energy source of body cell. Later, glucose will be stored and convert as glycogen in the muscle as energy reservation. While cassava leaves also contain carbohydrates which is about the same amount to beans and soy beans.

 2.Protect and repair body tissue

Cassava tuber contain protein which plays important role in protecting and repairing body tissue. The leaves contain different types of proteins such as lysine, isoleucine, leucine, valine, and lots of arginine which are not commonly found in green leafy plants. Cassava almost contains all amino acyd which can compared to  eggs and soybeans  as great source of proteins.

3. Lowering Blood Cholesterol

A study in the Philippines (one of the countries where cassava is one of important crop) conducted a research to looked into the effects of root crops especially cassava in lowering cholesterol levels among humans. The study showed that cassava has significant effect in decreasing total cholesterol levels, it also decreased thelow 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 also known as good source of saponins. These phytochemicals can help the body lower unhealthy cholesterol levels in your bloodstream. Saponins act by binding the bile acids and cholesterol, and prevent  thus from being absorbed by small intestines

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4. Reducing Risk of Heart Disease

As explained before that cassava can reduce cholesterol which are the culprit of heart disease by its fiber and maintaining the health of blood arteries and circulation.

5. Building strong 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.

6. Keeping Normal Metabolism

Cassava is a moderate source of some of the valuable B-complex group of vitamins such as folates, pyridoxine, thiamin, riboflavin, and pantothenic acid which are important to produce metabolism hormones and keeping normal metabolism occur in the body

 7. Help regulate heart rate and Blood Pressure

The adequate potassium amounts which found in cassava (271 mg per 100 g or 6% of RDA) play as important component of cell and body fluids that help regulate heart rate and blood pressure. A study showed that potassium which consumed by people with high blood pressure could help in lowering systolic blood pressure. Potassium also an important mineral which enables your heart to beat. People with heart rhythm problem are supposed to consumed potassium and cassava can be the choice.

8. Prevent Constipation and Weight Loss

Amylose (16-17%) which found in cassava is another major complex carbohydrate sources which slowly break down by the body and promotes satiety . Cassava also contains high amounts of dietary fiber, which can help prevent constipation. Fiber also helps individuals to lose weight by maintaining long last satiety according to the Mayo Clinic website. Cooked cassava leaves contains low calories, 37kcal in 100grams  that is great for weight lose and to be noted, they just about free from fat.

9. Serving Gluten-free and nutrients for Celiac Disease patients

Unlike other substances which found in other plant food, cassava is gluten free. Gluten is protein which usually found in wheat, barley, oats and rye and can cause allegy to some people. Person with celiac disease (abnormality or damage of small intestine which can not tolerate gluten) can consume starch or flour from cassava because is free from gluten. So they still can enjoy some cake made from cassava and other savoury dishes which need flour to thicken the gravy

10. Lowering Blood Level Sugar

The fiber in cassava make the process absorption of sugar into the bloodstream slower. Its a great news for people who suffering from diabetes, by eating the fiber rich cassava. They can experience satiety without worrying the blood sugar level. This is why cassava is well suggested to people with Diabetes.

11. Prevent from cancer

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

12. Promote Probiotics growing and boost immune system

Again 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.

13. Limiting neural damage in brain and Prevent Alzheimer

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.

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14. Prevent anemia and help the blood to carry Oxigen

The mineral iron which contained by cassava can helps the body to form two important proteins  hemoglobin ( protein molecule in red blood cell ) and myoglobin (protein found in heart and muscle ) – who  served to carry oxygen to whole body tissues. Consuming cassava leaves or roots can help to prevent the body from iron deficiency which leads to anemia and help the process of in renewing red blood cells.

15. 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.

Healthy way to consume cassava

 Here are some information of how people consume cassava in many countries  and also healthy tips that you can adapt while enjoy the benefits of cassava.

  • Cassava leaves and roots contain high hydrocyanic acid which is poisonous for the body , but when it cooked the acid will disappear and save to be consumed. Make sure that you cook the yucca leaves more than 10 minutes and throw away the water from boiling the leaves.
  • Unlike other green leaf plant like spinach or etc which has more taste , cassava leaves don’t have much flavor and absorb any flavoring that you add. While cooking cassava leaves you can add some spices, meats and other kind of food condiments. Cassava leaves are common ingredients that are a staple for Indonesian cooking
  •  You can easily get fresh and organic cassava leaves or root by planting the plant. Cassava plants don’t have many pestsand it can be easily grown. It can also grow in any kind of soil. Just cut the stem and stick it to the ground, it will root down and grow. You must wait 24 months until cassava roots being full of nutrition and ready to be harvest but you can harvest the leaves anytime you want.
  • Instead of having potato french fries, cassava also can be used to replace it .You can also add boiled cassava to your salad just like people In Central America, specifically Costa Rica and Nicaragua, which add cassava as their ingredients of salad while cassava flour has been used for making cake, lasagna and also noodles.
  • Some people in many regions and countries consume cassava in different way. People in the traditional areas of North and South America, grate the cassava tubers and later the sap will be extracted through squeezing or pressing. Further, this cassava will be dried over a fire to make a meal, or fermented and cooked. This type of cassava meal can then be rehydrated with water or just be added to soups or stews. As the most producers of cassava people In Africa process cassava tubers into meal in several different ways. The cassava tubers may first be fermented in water, and then later they will be either sun-dried for storage or grated and made into dough that is cooked.

After you know the benefits of cassava, will you try this food as your meal and substitute the rice with cassava.

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