Cassava Medical Health Benefits & Dangers

Generally, the cassava root vegetable is affiliated to several medical and health benefits.

Not to mention, cassava is widely being consumed in developing countries. It provides some important nutrients and resistant starch, which may have beneficial effects on the body.

On one hand, it is grown in tropical regions of the world because of its ability to withstand difficult growing conditions. In fact, it’s one of the most drought-tolerant crops.

On the other hand, cassava can have dangerous effects, especially if it is eaten raw and in large amounts. To enumerate, raw cassava contains cyanide, which is toxic to ingest, so it is vital to prepare it correctly.

However, it’s naturally gluten-free, so it can serve as a wheat substitute in cooking and baking for people who are on a gluten-free diet.

In the United States, people grind cassava down to make tapioca, which they eat as a pudding or use as a thickening agent.

Understanding the general benefits and dangers affiliated to Cassava.

Below the Roots and the Leaves

As an example, Cassava is a root vegetable. It is the underground part of the cassava shrub, which has the Latin name Manihot esculenta. Like potatoes and yams, it is a tuber crop. Cassava roots have a similar shape to sweet potatoes.

Inasmuch as cassava is a vegetable that is a staple ingredient of many diets worldwide, people should avoid eating it raw.

The most commonly consumed part of cassava is the root, which is very versatile. Whereby, it can be eaten whole, grated or ground into flour to make bread and crackers. Not forgetting, it is a good source of nutrients.

People can also eat the leaves of the cassava plant. Humans living along the banks of the Amazon River in South America grew and consumed cassava hundreds of years before Christopher Columbus first voyaged there.

Today, more than 80 countries throughout the tropics grow cassava, and it is a primary component of the diet of more than 800 million people around the world.

Not to mention, it is popular because it is a hardy crop that is resistant to drought and does not require much fertilizer, although it is vulnerable to bacterial and viral diseases.

Additionally, cassava root is well known as the raw material that’s used to produce tapioca and garri, a product similar to tapioca.

How Cassava is Used Today

Cassava is a rich, affordable source of carbohydrates. It can provide more calories per acre of the crop than other cereals, which makes it a very useful crop in the developing world.

People prepare and eat cassava in various ways in different parts of the world. With baking and boiling being among the most common methods. In some places, people ferment cassava before using it.

Is Cassava Toxic

Of course, Yes! But, only if consumed in its purest and raw form. Also, not to mention, it is essential to peel it and never eat it raw. For one thing, it contains dangerous levels of cyanide unless a person cooks it thoroughly before eating it.

Eating raw or incorrectly prepared cassava can lead to severe side effects.

Even in places where cassava is a well-known part of the diet, reports have identified several hazards of eating it and taking in too much active cyanide, including:

  • paralyzed legs in children
  • low levels of iodine
  • increased risk of goiter
  • tropical ataxic neuropathy (TAN), a condition that is more common in older people and causes a loss of feeling in the hands, poor vision, weakness, walking problems, and the sensation of something being on the feet
  • intoxication and eventual death

In addition to containing naturally occurring cyanide, cassava can also absorb pollutants from the area in which it grows, which can be close to roads and factories.

The pollutants that cassava plants may take up and pass along to humans include:

  • trace metal elements
  • pesticides
  • herbicides


Scientists may eventually be able to replace high-fructose corn syrup with cassava starch.

Researchers are also hoping that cassava could be a source of the alcohol that manufacturers use to make polystyrene, PVC, and other industrial products.

Cassava Benefits
What to know about cassava: Nutrition and toxicity.

A 1 cup of Raw Cassava Nutritional Elements

Cassava contains only small amounts of proteins and fats. As a result, people who use it as a primary dietary staple may need to eat extra protein. Or even, take protein supplements to avoid becoming malnourished.

Since its leaves are a source of protein, people in some parts of the world emphasize combining the roots and leaves of the plant to address this concern.

Below is more Nutritional Elements:

  • calories: 330
  • protein: 2.8 grams (g)
  • carbohydrate: 78.4 g
  • fiber: 3.7 g
  • calcium: 33.0 milligrams (mg)
  • magnesium: 43.0 mg
  • potassium: 558.0 mg
  • vitamin C: 42.4 mg
  • thiamine, riboflavin, and niacin

Some health-food stores and supermarkets in Kenya stock cassava products and foodstuffs. And, of course, people can also find a wide variety of cassava products online.

Health and Nutritional Benefits of Cassava

In the first place, it is a calorie-rich vegetable that contains plenty of carbohydrate and key vitamins and minerals.

Secondly, it’s a good source of vitamin C, thiamine, riboflavin, and niacin. The leaves, which are also edible if a person cooks them or dries them in the sun, can contain up to 25 percent protein.

However, the root does not deliver the same nutritional value as other tuber vegetables.

Then again, Tapioca starch is gaining attention as a source of gluten-free flour to make bread and other baked products that are suitable for people with an intolerance to gluten.

Equally, it is a source of resistant starch, which scientists suggest can boost a person’s gut health. Especially, by helping nurture beneficial gut bacteria.

Resistant starches remain relatively unchanged as they pass through the digestive tract.

Creating Tapioca or Garri from Cassava Root


According to Wikipedia, the word Garri originates from the Igbo language in Nigeria. It is used to describe any powdery material. Especially, foodstuff, such as flour grains, e.g.,

It can also be used for ground substances, as in Garin Magani (powdery medicine).

For your information, types of flour foodstuffs mixed with water used to be a major part of the diet in the Hausa lands. And almost all parts of NigeriaGhanaCameroon, and Liberia mainly Nigeria for many centuries.

In addition, they were used by travelers in particular, who were often unable to carry cooked meals. Traveling on horseback or donkeys and trekking took a very long time and so required readily-available fast food.

For example, while now it might take 75 minutes to go to Zaria from Kano, 120 years ago it was a 5-day journey, and so one needed to take a large amount of garri.

On the following link, please learn more about Garri.


In general, Tapioca is almost pure starch extracted from the root, a tuber native to South America. It consists of almost pure carbs and contains very little protein, fiber or nutrients.

Tapioca has become popular recently as a gluten-free alternative to wheat and other grains. Above all, the root is relatively easy to grow. And a dietary staple in several countries in Africa, Asia, and South America too.

Learn more about:  What Is Tapioca and What Is It Good For?

Resourceful References;

  1. Health & Physical Fitness Guides
  2. What to know about cassava: Nutrition and toxicity
  3. African Kitchen: Order Garri/Eba Online

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