Nature is filled with a treasure of beneficial plants, herbs, fruits, seeds, and flowers! All we need to know is how to make the most of these naturally available therapeutics. Cassava is one such root vegetable that can be poisonous or beneficial based on how we consume it. When taken in the right amount and in proper preparation, cassava benefits our skin, hair, and overall health in several important ways (1). However, just like excess of anything is bad, you must be aware of how much cassava is good enough for you to avoid its possible risks and complications! Read on to delve further and know more details about this starchy root vegetable.
Cassava – A Brief
Cassava is a tropical root vegetable that can be used along with potatoes, carrots, radishes and other tubers. Cassava is also used in flour, which is a kind of starch required in kitchens around the globe (2). Dry cassava flour can also be bought from grocery stores. Finding fresh roots of cassava plants is almost impossible because they tend to rot very quickly.
The leaves of this veggie can be used to prepare food as well (3). Compared to other green vegetables, the nutritional value of cassava is a little low. The leaves of this plant have higher protein content when compared to the nutrients found in the roots of cassava.
Cassava needs a comfortable environment to grow well. The best part of this plant is that it can survive for very long in soil that is poor in quality.
There are two kinds of cassava plants: sweet and bitter. Bitter cassava plants have a higher level of cyanide, and they have to be washed and crushed well before they are cooked (4). This will remove all harmful toxins. Once that has been done, you can grind the roots of cassava plants into flour to prepare different kinds of dishes.
Sweet cassavas, on the other hand, contain lower levels of cyanide, and you may eat them as traditional root veggies.Cassava is known for its amazing benefits. Let’s go through a few of them!
Skin Benefits Of Cassava
1. Smoothens And Brightens Your Complexion
The peel of cassava plants can be used as a skin exfoliator. You can split the peels, make a fresh paste out of it and use it as a scrub. Brush the face well for a few minutes and wash it off with cold water. Do this thrice a week to get good results. Make sure the raw cassava doesn’t get into your mouth.
2. Great Face Mask
Cassava plants also act as great face masks. Before you prepare your face mask, make sure you have washed your face with warm water. This will help in opening up the pores. The cassava mask will easily get absorbed and improve the texture and condition of your skin. Once you have washed your face, wait for it to dry completely. You may now rinse with cold water so that the pores close. Use your fingers to dry them. Doing this thrice a week will prevent and eliminate scars and impart a healthy glow in return.
3. Hydrates The Skin
Cassava can also hydrate your skin tone and make it smooth and soft. You will have to prepare a mask for this one at home. Take cassava plant roots with some honey or olive oil. You can combine it with a fruit too. A few drops of lemon will also do.
4. Removes Scars And Spots
Cassava starch water can help in healing scars if you apply gently all over the affected area around twice a day.
Hair Benefits Of Cassava
It is not only your health and skin that will be on the receiving end of benefits when it comes to cassava! Using cassava roots and leaves will also help you see changes in the quality of your hair.
5. Helps Your Hair Grow Faster
If you are tired with the condition of your hair, especially because of its slow growth, I would definitely recommend Cassava. Its roots and leaves can be used to make a fresh paste that can be applied on oiled hair an hour before you rinse it. Doing this twice a week will help you see changes.
6. Controls Hair Fall
Women have often complained about hair fall. They are tired of talking about it, and we are tired of hearing about it! A simple, quick and effective solution to this problem is cassava. This will nourish your hair from the roots to the tips, hydrate it and control hair fall, if the root cause of hair fall isn’t hormonal.
7. Provides Nourishment
Cassava plants are a powerhouse of nourishment. If you have hair that is dry or damaged, consider this plant and let it help repair all the damage.
Health Benefits Of Cassava
The tubes and roots of the cassava plant contain calories, proteins, fat, carbohydrates, iron, Vitamin B and C and also starch. The leaves contain calcium, iron, fats and protein too. No wonder they have been proven to be beneficial for your health, body and mind. With that said, let’s go through some of the major cassava health benefits.
8. Helps You Lose Weight
Cassava is very important for all those who are trying to shed those excess pounds that have accumulated over the years. It is found in rice and bread and is low in calories too (5). The high fiber content in cassava helps you stay full for a longer period and prevents binge eating.
9. Good For Your Digestive System
Cassava contains fibers, which are not soluble in water (5). It helps in the absorption of toxins that enter your intestines. In that way, it improves your digestive health and keeps it chugging along nicely.
10. Helps In Overcoming Headaches
Most of us suffer from headaches, and for some, it can become unbearable. But you can treat it with the help of cassava! All you have to do for this is take 60 grams of cassava roots or leaves and soak it in water for a couple of hours. Make fresh juice using a blender and then drink it down twice a day. And banish those killer headaches!
Note: Soaking it is very important, as raw cassava contains naturally occurring forms of cyanide, which are toxic to ingest. Soaking and cooking cassava makes these compounds harmless. Eating raw or incorrectly prepared cassava can lead to severe side effects.
11. Prevents Cancer
Here comes an amazing benefit of Cassava. Cassava helps in preventing life-threatening diseases such as cancer (6). The B17 content in these leaves helps in stimulating the content of red blood cells, the loss of which often leads to cancer.
12. Treats Diarrhea
Cassava addresses conditions such as diarrhea too. You may take several pieces of cassava and boil it in water. Wait for it to come to room temperature. Drink this liquid twice a day to feel the difference.
13. Good For The Eyes
Cassava is rich in Vitamin A and compounds such as bakarotennya that improve the health of your eyes and in the future prevents blindness or poor eyesight (5).
14. Cure Fever
Cassava leaves are also effective in treating fever. To get the best results, use the stem as well as the leaves of cassava to make a decoction. In order to make this, you have to boil the root and the leaves instead of steeping them in warm water. Simply take 400 grams of cassava leaves and 80 grams of the stem and boil them uncovered in a liter of water. When the volume of water is reduced by half, take it off the heat and cool.
15. Help Treat Rheumatic Diseases
Rheumatic diseases refer to diseases pertaining to the muscles and joints. Osteoporosis, arthritis, spondylitis and lupus are some examples. Cassava leaves are rich in magnesium. In fact, a diet high in magnesium leads to lowered blood pressure levels that reduces the chances of rheumatic diseases throughout life (1).
Cassava supplies more than a third of your daily magnesium requirement per serving. To make an all-natural rheumatic medication, take 150 grams of cassava leaves, some lemongrass and salt along with 15 grams of ginger root. Boil these ingredients in a liter of water until the volume has reduced to about 400ccs. Drink this potion every morning to keep rheumatic diseases at bay.
16. Heal Wounds
Cassava leaves are great for healing minor injuries and wounds.. It has plenty of nutrients that can help in quickly healing such injuries. Crush cassava leaves in a little amount of Aloe Vera gel and make a smooth paste. Smear this paste on the wound. You can also use the stem of cassava in healing wounds. From the smooth paste made from the leaves and the gel, grate some of the cassava root. If the wound is from a burn, squeeze the pulp out of cassava rhizomes and apply it daily to the wound.
17. Clear Up Worms
This benefit of cassava leaves is sourced from some solid research. It has been found that cassava leaves reduce nematode infection in the GI tract. An experiment was done on young goats that were fed a steady diet of fermentative additives of rice and cassava leaves. It was found that the supplementation drastically reduced the symptoms of nematodic infestation.
To take cassava to eliminate worms, you can buy cassava supplements found in pharmacies. You can also make a paste of cassava leaves and eat that as a whole.
18. Develops Appetite
Cassava is full of benefits, among which appetite restoration is one. If you are feeling averse towards food, cassava leaves will restore your appetite. To do this, make a concoction of cassava leaves with ginger and drink it every morning right after waking up.
19. Beneficial For Pregnant Women
Pregnant women need lots of vitamin C and folate(2). In fact, these two supplements are prescribed right from the beginning of the gestation period. Now, these two are also found aplenty in cassava leaves. A cup of cassava contains 15 percent of your daily folate requirement and 47 percent of the daily calcium requirement. Cassava leaves have a bland taste, so chop the leaves and cook them with meat and vegetables in a stew. This way, you will make a great meal out of the healthy leaf.
20. Help Fight Kwashiorkor
Cassava leaves are full of lysine protein (7). This makes the leaves perfect for fighting against protein deficiency conditions like Kwashiorkor. However, depending on cassava as the sole source of protein can be harmful if the leaves are not cooked properly. There is evidence suggesting cassava containing cyanogenic glucosides. This can lead to loss of eyesight and cyanide poisoning. So the tuber and leaves must be washed properly, and cooked well before eating.
21. Strengthens Immunity
Folate and vitamin C, both found in plenty in cassava leaves, are very good for the body’s immune system. Vitamin C helps the immune system by attacking the nucleus of virus and bacteria, rendering them dead. It also maintains bone health. It is also a good antioxidant that eliminates free radicals in the body. Free radicals are known to have links with cancer. Folate helps in the production of cells in our body, thereby helping in making the genetic material for life and preventing DNA mutations.
22. Boosts Energy And Improves Brain Function
Since cassava flour is high in carbohydrates, it helps in boosting energy. Not only that, your brain will begin to work more efficiently when you add cassava flour to your meals. Every serving contains 80% of carbohydrates, which is more than enough for your daily consumption.
23. Beneficial For Nerve Health
Some experts believe that cassava flour is essential for a balanced nervous system. Not only does it fight stress and anxiety, but also provides support to your overall health.
24. Maintains Healthy Muscles
If you are health conscious, cassava flour will definitely help you build strong and lean muscles. It contains protein that maintains your muscle health and nourishes the tissues. One serving contains 2 grams of protein, which is enough to meet your daily requirements.
25. Lowers Blood Pressure
Another amazing benefit of cassava flour is that it significantly lowers blood pressure. This is again because it is high in dietary fiber. Every cup of cassava flour increases your fiber intake by 4 grams. This significantly contributes towards the ideal fiber intake recommended for women on a regular basis.
26. Makes You Less Prone To Diseases
With cassava flour, you can lower the chances of diseases such as osteoporosis. This is because it contains essential minerals such as copper and magnesium that promote a healthy lifestyle. One cup of cassava contains only 206 grams of copper, which covers around 24% of your daily requirement.
Nutritional Value Of Cassava
The table below will give you a clear idea on the nutritional value of cassava (5).
One cup of raw cassava contains:
Total fat: One gram
Cholesterol: Zero percent
Sodium: 29 grams
Carbohydrates: 78 grams
Dietary fiber: 4 grams
Sugars: 4 grams
Protein: 3 grams
Uses Of Cassava
Cassava plants can also be put to several uses. You can prepare soups and stews by using this as the core ingredient. This will fill up your stomach and help you stay full for a longer period. Since it is a starchy vegetable, it contains an element of thickness that stimulates the appetite and also lasts for a long time. However, be careful while you are using this plant. Excessive consumption brings you one step closer to nutritional deficiencies and diseases.
Word Of Caution
This popular tuber also has some side effects that you should be aware of. Here are a few of them:
Cassava contains a toxin called linamarin. When eaten raw, the human digestive system converts this toxin into cyanide, which can prove to be fatal (8).
The cassava root rots quickly, which leads to depletion in its nutritional value. It can also cause fungal and bacterial infections.
The toxic substances in cassava are known to affect the pituitary gland and impact the functioning of liver and kidneys.
Now, don’t let these side effects scare you away! If you peel, clean, and cook cassava well, there is no reason why you cannot enjoy its goodness without worrying about toxins! Cleaning and cooking flush out all the toxins from cassava and make it completely eatable.
Cassava is a root vegetable with many therapeutic properties. The wide variety of vitamins and minerals, starch, and higher protein content in cassava benefit your skin, hair, and health. The root may smoothen and brighten skin complexion, improve texture, condition the skin, and help in hair growth. It also aids in weight loss, improves digestion, reduces cancer risk, and treats diarrhea. You can easily add cassava to your favorite soups and stews. However, eating raw cassava can prove fatal, as it contains linamarin (a toxin) that may cause fungal and bacterial infections. Raw cassava may also impact kidney and liver functioning.