Updated: Mar 30, 2019
Cassava, also known as manioc or yucca, is a starchy rhizome that is mostly cultivated in the hot climates of Africa, Asia and South America. Cassava shouldn’t be eaten raw. This is because it contains toxic amounts of cyanogenic glycosides, which can be reduced to innocuous levels by cooking it. Other than sugarcane, cassava is one of the richest sources of carbohydrates, according to the Food Safety Network.
Rich in Minerals
Cassava is a good source of minerals such as calcium, phosphorus, manganese, iron and potassium. These minerals are necessary for proper development, growth and function of your body’s tissues. For example, calcium is necessary for strong bones and teeth; iron helps in the formation of two proteins -- hemoglobin and myoglobin -- which carry oxygen to your body tissues; and manganese helps in the formation of bones, connective tissue and sex hormones. Potassium is necessary for synthesis of proteins and helps in the breakdown of carbohydrates. According to the Department of Agriculture, Agriculture and Fisheries Information Service, a 100-gram serving of cassava root contains 16 milligrams of calcium, 21 milligrams of magnesium, 271 milligrams of potassium, 27 milligrams of phosphorus and 0.4 milligrams of manganese. It also has 14 milligrams of sodium, 0.3 milligrams of zinc and 0.3 milligrams of iron.
Rich in Fibre
Cassava contains high amounts of dietary fibre, which can help prevent constipation. According to the Mayo Clinic website, fibre also helps you lose weight as it promotes lasting satiety. It may also help reduce your unhealthy cholesterol levels, which lowers the risk of cardiovascular diseases. If you are suffering from diabetes, eating fibre-rich cassava may help lower your blood sugar levels. This is because fibre slows the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream.
Rich in Carbohydrates
Cassava contains 38 grams of carbohydrates per 100-gram serving. This makes it a good energy source for individuals who engage in strenuous physical activities. Such activities deplete glycogen, which is the form in which glucose is stored in the muscles. When you eat cassava, the carbohydrates present in it are converted to glucose in your body, which is then converted to glycogen and stored in the muscles.
Absence of the allergenic protein -- gluten -- makes cassava flour a good substitute for rye, oats, barley and wheat. Persons diagnosed with celiac disease and other gluten-based allergies can find relief in consuming foods made using tapioca or cassava flour. Although baking cakes, bread and other foods requires gluten to enable them to swell in size, it can be substituted with guar and xanthan gum.
Rich in Saponins
Cassava is a good source of saponins. These phytochemical may help lower unhealthy cholesterol levels in your bloodstream. They do so by binding to the bile acids and cholesterol, thus preventing them from being absorbed through the small intestines. The antioxidant effects of saponins may help protect your cells from damage by free radicals. A study by scientists at Tianjin University published in the October 2010 issue of “Fitoterapia” also found that saponins may help prevent cancer.