What is Cassava: Health Benefits, Side Effects & Uses

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Cassava smoothens and hydrates your skin and acts as a great face mask, It helps reduce hair fall and promotes hair growth, lose weight, digestive system and headaches are some of the health benefits.

Cassava or Manihot esculenta is a woody shrub that is native to South America. It is extensively cultivated in the tropical and subtropical regions for its edible starchy tuberous root, which serves as a major source of carbohydrates. It is the third-largest source of carbohydrates in the tropical region, after rice and maize.

It is known to be ‘nutty flavoured’ i.e. sweet and bitter. A cup of raw cassava contains almost 330 calories, which makes it a great energy booster. The most commonly consumed part of cassava is the cassava root which can be eaten whole, grated or can even be ground to make flour and bread. Baking and boiling are the two most common methods used to cook cassava. Cassava should not be consumed raw, because it contains certain poisonous constituents, which we have discussed later in the article.

Common food items consumed that are made from cassava include cassava bread, cassava flour, cassava chips, mashed cassava, French fries, cassava cake, cassava in coconut sauce etc. Cassava is also used to prepare tapioca which is a common dessert item. It is used to prepare gluten-free bread, medications, fabric, paper and building materials.

All You Need to Know about Cassava

cassava

What are the health benefits of cassava?

It smoothens and hydrates your skin and acts as a great face mask.

The peel of cassava plant can be made into a paste and used as a skin exfoliator. Cassava hydrates and brightens the skin and using it on your skin for three weeks can give great results. It can also be used to remove wound and scar marks from your face.

It helps reduce hair fall and promotes hair growth.

One of the most effective methods to reduce hair fall is to apply a cassava paste on your hair for an hour or two. It helps rejuvenate the hair cells and nourish the tips of your hair. It is especially beneficial for those with rough and damaged hair. It has also been observed that cassava significantly reduces hair fall.

It helps you lose weight.

Cassava contains a significant amount of fibers, which is exactly what you should look for if you want to shed your extra pounds. Cassava makes you feel full which prevents you from eating more. Thus, it is beneficial to have cassava in your diet if you want to lose weight.

It is good for the digestive system.

The fibers present in cassava absorbs all the toxins from your intestines and saves you from all sorts of gastrointestinal problems.

It helps overcome headaches.

Most of us suffer from headaches and some of us suffer from severe migraine. Consuming cassava juice can be extremely beneficial in such cases. Drinking cassava juice twice a day can help prevent future headaches from occurring. All you have to do for this is take 60 grams of cassava roots or leaves and soak it in water for a couple of hours before drinking it.

It is rich in vitamins and minerals.

Cassava is rich in vitamin A and compounds such as bakarotennya which improves your eyesight. It is also rich in vitamin C which makes it beneficial for pregnant women. Vitamin C helps the immune system by attacking virus and bacteria, rendering them dead. It also maintains bone health. It is also a good antioxidant that removes free radicals in the body. Cassava leaves are rich in magnesium. In fact, a diet high in magnesium leads to lowered blood pressure levels that reduce the chances of rheumatic diseases throughout life.

Cassava leaves are also rich in lysine proteins, which make it suitable for fighting protein deficiency diseases like Kwashiorkor.

It is an energy booster and improves nerve health.

Being a rich source of carbohydrates, cassava is a great energy booster. Adding cassava flour to your diet can improve your energy levels and also your brain functioning. Cassava not only helps fight stress and anxiety, but also improves your overall health.

What are the side effects of consuming cassava?

While cassava has some great health benefits, there are certain precautions you should take while taking cassava.

Firstly, cassava should never be consumed raw. It contains the toxin linamarin, which when consumed gets converted into cyanide inside our body. This can prove fatal for human beings.

Consuming high quantities of cassava can also have a negative impact. There have been reports of cassava leading to paralysed legs in children, increased risk of goitre and even conditions like TAN and intoxication.

However, cleaning and cooking it flushes out all the toxins from cassava and makes it perfectly healthy for consumption.

What are the uses of cassava?

Apart from food items, here are some more uses of cassava:

  • Cassava is used to prepare industrial products such as High Quality Cassava Flour (H.Q.C.F) which is used in composite flour for pastries, and also in baking for cassava bread. Also cassava starch produced from cassava tubers is used in almost all industrial food products as stabilizers and also in paper making.
  • Cassava is used as animal feed worldwide. Cassava hay is produced at a young growth stage at three to four months and sun-dried for one to two days until it has final dry matter of at least 85%. The cassava hay contains high protein content (20-27% crude protein) and condensed tannins (1.5-4% CP). It is used as a good roughage source for dairy or beef cattle, buffalo, goats, and sheep.
  • Research is being conducted in several countries to use cassava as a significant ethanol biofuel feedstock. In November 2008, China-based Hainan Yedao Group reportedly invested $51.5m (£31.8m) in a new biofuel facility that is expected to produce 33 million gallons a year of bio-ethanol from cassava plants.

In conclusion, cassava root or cassava leaf is a great source of vitamins and minerals as well as antinutrients. It is rich in calories and has many health benefits. However, it should not be consumed in large quantities as it has potential side effects and can adversely affect our health. But if you consume it in proper limited quantities, you can always enjoy its benefits without having to worry about the side effects!

References

https://www.naturalfoodseries.com/13-health-benefits-cassava/

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/323756.php

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