Health benefits of cassava

Monday May 10 2021
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Cassava, being a cellulose, is rich insoluble fibre, a type of dietary fibre that not only aids in digestion, but is also believed to be a prebiotic, thus promoting the growth of probiotic bacteria as it ferments in the intestines.

By Promise Twinamukye

Cassava is a nutty-flavoured root tuber which falls under the group of starchy root vegetables rich in carbohydrates and calories, thus providing various small amounts of vitamins and minerals.

It is also a staple food for many families. The tubers and leaves of this vegetable are both edible and both are a good source of different nutrients. However, improper consumption could cause problems to your health. 

Carbohydrates

Cassava roots, according to Peterson Kato Kikomeko, an assistant lecturer of human nutrition at Kyambogo University, are rich sources of carbohydrates. After the body breaks down carbohydrates into glucose, it provides the primary energy source for the brain and muscles.

According to medicalnewstoday, carbohydrates are one of three macronutrients, which are nutrients that the body needs in larger amounts. The other macronutrients are protein and fats.

Healthy gut

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According to Dr Andrew Ssekitoleko, a general physician, resistant starch in cassava feeds the beneficial bacteria in your gut, which may help reduce inflammation and promote digestive health.

Diabetes

Cassava, being a cellulose, is rich insoluble fibre, a type of dietary fibre that not only aids in digestion, but is also believed to be a prebiotic, thus promoting the growth of probiotic bacteria as it ferments in the intestines.

According to verywellhealth.com, there is some evidence that this effect can increase metabolism and the speed by which blood sugar is cleared from the blood, a process referred to as glucose tolerance. 

In addition, cassava has a glycemic index of 46, a value that is far lower than other starchy foods. (The lower on the glycemic index a food is, the slower it is digested, and the less likely it is to spike blood sugar after eating.)

A 2018 study in the Journal of Nutrition and Human Health reported that 40 adults that ate 360 grammes of cooked cassava prior to a meal experience improved glucose tolerance and glycemic control. This was especially true of cassava that had been fortified with vitamin A.

Vitamin C

Dr Kikomeko says vitamin C, which is found in cassava is an antioxidant that helps the body remove unwanted chemical substances, boosts immunity, supports absorption of iron from food, and is essential for wound healing.

Cassava is also a good source of B vitamins such as thiamine, riboflavin, and niacin. These play an essential roles in supporting metabolism, a process where the body breaks down nutrients for meeting energy needs and other purposes.

Can cassava be toxic?

Cassava may be toxic with improper consumption processing.

According to Dr Kikomeko, cassava tends to have chemical compounds known as cyanide that are believed to cause cancer. So, it is healthier to eat cassava when cooked since the cooking process removes these compounds.

According to Dr Kikomeko, since cassava is deficient of protein, it is essential that protein foods are eaten since cassava predominant diets may expose individuals to protein deficiency.


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