7/19/2013

HEALTH BENEFITS OF TAPIOCA/CASSAVA

Cassava is widely consumed in West Africa. Cassava is cooked in various ways around Africa and the world. From research, I understand that it is also popular in the Caribbean and Asia. Research also shows that cassava is used to make desserts...I would love to try that. For us in Nigeria, the most popular food derived from cassava is eba. Eba is widely consumed in Nigeria, the next famous food, I believe, would be indomie noodles. I have always wondered if there were any health benefits from eating eba. The first thing anyone would say is that eating eba would contribute to developing a pot belly. As a result, I have seen many weight watchers eliminate eba from their diets. 

Cassava, also known as Yuca, Tapioca, Manioc or Euphorbiaceous, has several health benefits. Cassava is a healthy source of carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are highly recommended for producing energy. Cassava is considered a healthy starch because it is low in cholesterol and unhealthy fats. Research shows that cassava is free from gluten making it suitable for use for people suffering with Celiac disease. Cassava flour, which does not contain any gluten, is a healthier alternative to wheat flour.

Young tender cassava leaves are a good source of dietary proteins and vitamin K. Vitamin K plays a role in building bone mass by promoting osteotrophic activity in the bones, thereby preventing diseases like arthritis. Cassava is also a moderate source of some of the valuable B-complex group of vitamins such as folates, thiamin, pyridoxine (vitamin B-6), riboflavin, and pantothenic acid. In addition,cassava contains adequate amounts of potassium. Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids that help regulate heart rate and blood pressure.

Cassava is however said to be poisonous when eating raw. Research shows that cassava plant produces cyanide, a poison that can be deadly to humans. Some of the signs of cyanide poisoning are headache, dizziness, agitation, confusion, coma, and convulsions. it is therefore advisable to cook cassava properly before consumed. The processing method done to convert cassava to garri gets rid of the toxins...phew!!! I can enjoy my eba. Malnutrition can also occur where cassava is eaten excessively or as your main diet because the plant is low in protein and other micronutrients.

My conclusion therefore is that cassava, like most other plant is beneficial to the human body, however, too much/poor consumption could lead to negative effects. 
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