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.
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.
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.
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.