Health News of Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Source: Teacher Baffour

The Health Benefits of Cassava

Cassava, also known as yucca or manioc, is the third largest source of carbohydrates in the world and is a staple food for more than 500 million people. Among crop plants, the cassava plant provides the highest yield of food energy per cultivated area per day, next to sugarcane.

Lesser known foods such as cassava are not so much considered for snacks but there are more reasons why you should think otherwise. Cassava root is very rich in starch and contains significant amounts of calcium, dietary fibre, iron, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, vitamin b6 and vitamin C.

Dietary fibre has been associated with lowering the risk of cardiovascular diseases, colon cancer, and helping control diabetes.

A recent study conducted in the Philippines (one of the countries where cassava is an important crop) looked into the effects of root crops and legumes in lowering cholesterol levels among humans with moderately-raised cholesterol levels. The study showed that cassava significantly decreased total cholesterol levels, decreased low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol (considered as “bad” cholesterol), and may help lower triglyceride levels due to its high total dietary fibre content.

Cassava Flour

Other studies show that cassava may help support the nervous system and help alleviate stress, anxiety and irritable bowel syndrome.

Cassava flour does not contain gluten, an allergenic protein found in wheat, barley, oats and rye. Also known as tapioca flour, it can be used by gluten intolerant people to replace wheat flour. In the U.S., cassava flour is often used to thicken gravy but it has long been used in Asia to make savoury dishes and desserts, like cassava cake.

Cassava can be used for French fries instead of potatoes. In Central America, specifically Costa Rica and Nicaragua, boiled yucca is an ingredient in salads and other dishes, while cassava flour has been used for making lasagna noodles.

Compilation by Teacher Baffour