What to do with Cassava

    Cassava nutrition facts

    Cassava (yuca or manioc) is a nutty flavored, starchy tuber in the spurge family (Euphorbiaceae) of plants?from the South-American region. Its sweet crunchy underground tuber is a popular edible root since centuries for indigenous people of many parts of Africa, Asia and South American continents. Together with other tropical roots and starch-rich foods like yam, taro, plantains, potato, etc, it too is an indispensable part of carbohydrate diet?for millions of inhabitants living in these regions.
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    Some of the common names include manioc, or mandioca in Brazil, manihot, tapioca and yuca. Scientific name: Manihot esculenta (Crantz).
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    The cassava is a perennial plant that grows best under tropical, moist, fertile, well-drained soils. Completely grown plant reaches to a height of about 2-4 m. Under the cultivation fields, its cut-stem sections are planted just as in sugarcanes. After about 8-10 months of plantation, long, globular roots or tubers grom in radial pattern downwards deep into the soil from the bottom end of stem upto a depth of 2-4 feet.
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    Each tuber weighs one to several pounds depending up on the cultivar type and feature gray-brown, rough woody textured skin outside. Its interior flesh features white, starch rich sweet-flavored meat, that should be eaten only after cooking.

    Health benefits of Cassava

    • Cassava has nearly twice the?calories than potatoes, perhaps one of the highest for any tropical starch rich tubers and roots. 100 g root provides 160 calories. Their calorie mainly comes from sucrose, forming the bulk in these tubers accounting for more than 69% of total sugars. Complex sugar amylose is another major carbohydrate source (16-17%).

    • Cassava is very low in?fats and protein than in cereals and pulses. Nonetheless, it has more protein than that of other tropical food sources like yam, potato, plantains, etc.

    • As in?other roots and tubers, cassava too is free from gluten. Gluten-free starch is used in special food preparations for celiac disease patients.

    • Young tender cassava (yuca) leaves are a good source of dietary proteins and vitamin K. Vitamin-K has a potential role in bone mass building by promoting osteotrophic activity in the bones. It also has established role in the treatment of Alzheimer's disease patients by limiting neuronal damage in the brain.

    • Cassava is 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.

    • The root is one of the chief sources of?some important minerals like zinc, magnesium, copper, iron, and manganese for many inhabitants in the tropical belts. In addition, it has adequate amounts of potassium (271 mg per 100g or 6% of RDA). Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids that help regulate heart rate and blood pressure.

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