Yuca: Benefits and Dangers



Cassava is a root vegetable widely consumed in developing countries. It provides some important nutrients and resistant starch, which can have health benefits.


On the other hand, cassava can have dangerous effects, especially if it is eaten raw and in large quantities.


This article will explore the unique properties of cassava to determine if it is a healthy and safe food to include in your diet.


What is yucca?


Cassava is a walnut-flavored starchy root vegetable or tuber. Originally from South America, it is an important source of calories and carbohydrates for people in developing countries.


It is grown in tropical regions of the world due to its ability to withstand difficult growing conditions; in fact, it is one of the most drought tolerant crops (1).


In the United States, cassava is often called cassava and may also be called Brazilian manioc or arrowroot.


The most consumed part of yucca is the root, which is very versatile. It can be eaten whole, grated or ground into flour to make bread and cookies.


In addition, cassava root is well known as the raw material used to produce tapioca and garri, a product similar to tapioca.


People with food allergies often benefit from the use of cassava root for cooking and baking because it contains no gluten, has no grain and has no nuts.


An important note is that the cassava root should be cooked before eating it. Raw cassava can be poisonous, which will be discussed in a later chapter.


Summary: Cassava is a versatile root vegetable that is consumed in various parts of the world. It must be cooked before eating.


It contains some key nutrients


A 3.5-ounce serving (100 grams) of boiled cassava root contains 112 calories. 98% of these are carbohydrates and the rest of a small amount of proteins and fats.


This portion also provides fiber, as well as some vitamins and minerals (2).


The following nutrients are found in 3.5 ounces (100 grams) of boiled cassava (2):




  • Calories: 112


  • Carbohydrates: 27 grams


  • Fiber: 1 gram


  • Thiamin 20% of the RDI


  • Match: 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 (2).


In general, the nutritional profile of cassava is nothing special. While it provides some vitamins and minerals, the amounts are minimal.


There are many other root vegetables that you can eat that will provide significantly more nutrients: beets and sweet potatoes, to name two.


Summary: Cassava is an important source of carbohydrates and also provides a small amount of fiber, vitamins and minerals.


Yucca processing reduces its nutritional value


Yucca processing, peeling, cutting and cooking significantly reduces the nutritional value (2).


This is because many of the vitamins and minerals are destroyed by processing, as well as most of the fiber and resistant starch (2).


Therefore, the most popular and processed cassava forms, such as tapioca and garri, have a very limited nutritional value.


For example, 1 ounce (28 grams) of tapioca pearls provide only calories and a small amount of a few minerals (3).


The boiling of cassava root is a cooking method that has been shown to retain most of the nutrients, with the exception of vitamin C, which is sensitive to heat and easily filtered in water (2).


Summary: While cassava contains several nutrients, processing methods significantly decrease its nutritional value by destroying vitamins and minerals.


It is high in calories


Cassava contains 112 calories per 3.5-ounce serving (100 grams), which is quite high compared to other root vegetables (2).


For example, the same serving of sweet potatoes provides 76 calories, and the same amount of beet provides only 44 (4, 5).


This is what makes cassava such an important crop for developing countries, since it is an important source of calories (2).


However, their high calorie count can do more harm than good for the general population.


Regular consumption of high-calorie foods is associated with weight gain and obesity, therefore, consume cassava sparingly and in reasonable portions (6, 7). An appropriate portion size is approximately 1 / 3-1 / 2 cup (73-113 grams).


Summary: Cassava contains a significant amount of calories, so you should consume it in moderation and in appropriate portions.


High in resistant starch


Cassava has a high content of resistant starch, a type of starch that prevents digestion and has properties similar to soluble fiber.


The consumption of foods with a high content of resistant starch can have several benefits for general health (8).


First, the resistant starch feeds the beneficial bacteria in the intestine, which can help reduce inflammation and promote digestive health (8, 9).


Resistant starch has also been studied for its ability to help improve 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 (10, 11, 12, 13).


The benefits of resistant starch are promising, but it is important to bear in mind that many processing methods can reduce the resistant starch content of cassava (14, 15).


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 entire form (14, 15).


Summary: Cassava in all its form is high in resistant starch, which is known for its role in the prevention of certain metabolic conditions and the promotion of intestinal health.


Contains Antinutrients


One of the main disadvantages of cassava is its anti-nutrient content.


Antinutrients are compounds of plants that can interfere with digestion and inhibit the absorption of vitamins and minerals in the body.


These are not a concern for most healthy people, but it is important to consider their effects.


They are more likely to affect populations at risk of malnutrition. Interestingly, this includes populations that depend on cassava as a staple food.


Here are the most important antinutrients found in cassava:




  • Saponins: Antioxidants that may have drawbacks, such as the reduced absorption of some vitamins and minerals (16).


  • Fitato This antinutrient can interfere with the absorption of magnesium, calcium, iron and zinc (2, 17).


  • Tannins: Known for reducing the digestibility of proteins and interfering with the absorption of iron, zinc, copper and thiamine (2).


The effects of antinutrients are more prominent when consumed frequently and as part of a nutritionally inadequate diet.


While you only use cassava on occasion, antinutrients should not be a major cause of concern.


In fact, in some circumstances, antinutrients such as tannins and saponins can have beneficial effects on health (18, 19, 20).


Summary: Antinutrients in cassava can interfere with the absorption of some vitamins and minerals and can cause digestive discomfort. This is mainly a concern for the populations that depend on cassava as a staple food.


It can have dangerous effects in some circumstances


Cassava can be dangerous if it is eaten raw, in large quantities or when improperly prepared.


This is because raw cassava contains chemicals called cyanogenic glycosides, which can release cyanide in the body when consumed (21).


When eaten frequently, they increase the risk of cyanide poisoning, which can affect thyroid and nervous function. It is associated with paralysis and organ damage, and it can be fatal (21, 22).


Those who have a deficient state of nutrition in general and a low protein consumption are more likely to experience these effects, since proteins help to eliminate cyanide from the body (21).


This is why cassava cyanide poisoning is a major concern for those living in developing countries. Many people in these countries suffer from protein deficiencies and depend on cassava as the main source of calories (21).


In addition, 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 (23).


Summary: Frequent cassava consumption is associated with cyanide poisoning, especially if it is consumed raw and improperly prepared.


How to make cassava safer for consumption


Cassava is generally safe when properly prepared and eaten occasionally in moderate amounts. A reasonable serving size is approximately 1 / 3-1 / 2 cup.


Here are some ways you can make cassava safer for consumption (21, 24):




  • Peel it: The cassava root husk contains most of the compounds that produce cyanide.


  • Soak: Soaking cassava by submerging it in water for 48 to 60 hours before cooking and eating it can reduce the amount of harmful chemicals it contains.


  • Cook it: Since harmful chemicals are found in raw cassava, it is essential to cook them thoroughly, for example, when boiling, roasting or baking them.


  • Combine it with the protein: Eating some protein along with cassava can be beneficial, since proteins help to rid the body of toxic cyanide (21).


  • Maintain a balanced diet: You can prevent the adverse effects of cassava by including a variety of foods in your diet and not rely on it as your only source of nutrition.


It is important to keep in mind that products made from cassava root, such as cassava flour and tapioca, contain very few cyanide-inducing compounds or are safe for human consumption.


Summary: It can make cassava safer for consumption with several strategies, including the use of certain preparation methods and their consumption in reasonable portions.


How to use cassava


There are many ways in which you can incorporate cassava into your diet.


You can prepare several sandwiches and dishes with the root on its own. It is usually cut and then baked or roasted, similar to how a potato would be prepared.


In addition, cassava root can be crushed or mixed with stir-fries, tortillas and soups. It is also sometimes milled in flour and used in bread and cookies.


You can also enjoy it in the form of tapioca, which is a starch that is extracted from the yucca root through a washing and pulping process.


Tapioca is commonly used as a thickener for puddings, cakes and soups.


Summary: Cassava is typically used in the same way that it would use potatoes and is an excellent addition to almost any dish. You can also grind it in flour or enjoy it in the form of tapioca.


The bottom line


Cassava contains some healthful properties, but its negative effects seem to outweigh the benefits.


Not only is it high in calories and anti-nutrients, but it can also cause cyanide poisoning when improperly prepared or consumed in large quantities.


While this is primarily a concern for those who depend on cassava as a staple food, it is still important to consider it.


In addition, cassava-based products such as tapioca and garri have been processed enough to eliminate toxic chemicals and are not dangerous to consume.


In general, cassava is not a food that needs to be a regular part of your diet. If you eat it, prepare it properly and eat it in reasonable portions.



Reference: https: //www.healthline.com/nutrition/cassava






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