RICH IN MINERALS

Health benefits of nutritious cassava

It is good for pregnant women and keeps hunger at bay for long

In Summary

• It enhances vision,  lowers blood pressure, boosts immunity and improves digestion

Cassava
Cassava
Image: COURTESY

The scientific name of cassava is manihot esculenta. There are many benefits associated with cassava. Here are a few of them.

In some parts of the country, the tender, dark-green cassava leaves are considered precious vegetables. They contain folic acid, which is vital before and during pregnancy for it contributes to proper organ formation of a developing baby. Neural tube defects, such as spina bifida, could be avoided. 

Preparation of the leaves is an art that requires patience. It may take hours pounding them using a pestle and mortar before boiling.

Eating cassava enhances vision due to the presence of vitamin A. The crop is also a source of potassium, which is known to lower blood pressure. It can be used to counteract the effects of sodium, which raises blood pressure.

Other minerals found in cassava are vitamin C, thiamin, riboflavin, manganese and calcium. Vitamin C boosts immune health. Deficiencies associated with the lack of these minerals are substantially cut.

Even though the tubers are low in protein, they are rich in dietary fiber. The insoluble fiber helps  improve the condition of the digestive system. It reduces constipation.

Cassava is also rich in carbohydrates and can supply a considerable daily calorie amount. Its carbohydrate content is third after rice and maize. As an energy-supplying food, it’s ideal for people who engage in hard labour and it improves the functioning of the brain.

Cassava is bulky and can make one remain full for a long period of time. This may cut down the frequency of snacking and, therefore, could control weight gain.

Liquid from boiled cassava is thought to manage diarrhoea, just like water drained from boiled rice. 

Cassava starch is an important ingredient in sauces, gravies, baby foods, thickening agents, confectionery and other food products.

From planting to harvesting, cassava is relatively labour-free once new crops have taken root and formed sufficient canopy. The tuberous crop can be harvested during drought or rainy seasons.

In as much as cassava can be part of a nutritious diet, caution is needed. It poses health risks, especially if eaten raw or undercooked. Cyanide is a poisonous chemical found in minute quantities in cassava. Thorough processing is the remedy to reducing the cyanide content to a safe level.