Cassava plant | Tapioca Plant is grown all over the world for it’s root and it’s the staple diet for millions of people. It is also called as Brazilian Arrow Root | Manioc plant | Yuca plant (not to be confused with the the ornamental yucca plant). It’s botanical name is Manihot Esculenta. The starch got from the roots is popularly called tapioca and it is also used extensively all over the world. Here in India, the cassava plant itself is referred mostly as tapioca plant. The roots are popularly called Maravalli kilangu in Tamil, Kappa in Malayalam, Karrapendalam in Telugu, Mara Ganesu Chintu in Kannda and Tapioca in Hindi (tapioca pearls are called sabudana in Hindi). Cassava is a rich source of carbohydrates and it also provides us essential vitamins, minerals and fiber. We can consume cassava roots as such after boiling it or in the from of tapioca starch or in the form of tapioca pearls (sabudana). At home, we have the roots boiled with salt and we also make a tasty cassava dosa | pancakes. It tastes delicious with a simple coconut chutney or tomato chutney. We also use sabudana a lot at home for making many dishes. Tapioca chips are also very very famous here and I like it much better than potato chips as it usually not very greasy like potato chips. Though even cassava leaves are also consumed in many communities we have never cooked it at home. The problem with easily and cheaply available foods like cassava is we tend to overlook it’s goodness and rarely use it. If we get to know the full health benefits and medicinal uses, it will always act as a reminder to include them more in our diet. There are two types of cassava, one is sweeter and the other is bitter. Raw tubers contains toxins that will cause great harm if we eat it without cooking it properly and bitter varieties contains more of the toxins than the sweet variety. Even if it is not cooked properly, it will have small amounts of toxins which will cause harm so always make sure to consume only properly cooked cassava root. Cassava is significantly rich in calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, manganese, beta carotene, vitamin C and vitamin A. Also the cassava flour and tapioca flour, though derived from the plant are different. The main difference being that tapioca is the starch got from the root which is got from grinding the roots to obtain the starch which is then dried. Cassava flour is simply the dried and powdered whole root. One significant benefit of using cassava flour is it is gluten free so people who are taking gluten free diet can substitute regular flour with cassava flour. Cassava flour is also excellent as a laundry starch and it is also used for making alcohol. Cassava Side Effects: Cassava (both leaves & root) when not cooked well before eating will lead to poisoning as raw cassava has cyanide. Especially the bitter variety will lead to goiter, nervous damage and paralysis and in sever cases it will result in death as it has more amount of cyanide than sweeter variety. Always eat only cooked root and never eat the raw root. Eating cassava is popularly believed to increase the chances of conceiving twins but I couldn’t find any research supporting this claim. Pregnant women should not consume too much of cassava…
5 Top Benefits, Uses & Side Effects of Cassava | Manioc | Yuca For Hair, Skin & Health:
1. Cassava Flour For Gluten Free Diet:
For people who are taking gluten free diet, especially people who are suffering from celiac disease will find cassava flour very useful. You can substitute wheat flour in any recipe with cassava flour. Even when eating out, you can opt for cassava based dishes but make sure to find out whether there are any other additions that contain gluten apart from cassava in the dish served…
2. Cassava For Constipation:
Since cassava is rich in fiber, it is a great food to include in the diet of people who are suffering from constipation. We make cassava dosas at home, for making it soak 1 cup of hand pounded parboiled rice in water. Wash 2 cassava roots well in water, peel the skin and cut roughly into cubes. Grind the cassava root along with rice and salt to a smooth paste. This batter should not get sour like our regular dosa batter, you can make dosas immediately, best had immediately served along with a spicy chutney.….
3. Cassava For Weight Loss:
Cassava is very very filling and nutritious, whenever we make cassava dosas at home, I will feel full very fast and I will not be hungry again for a long time. Foods like this which are nutritious and filling should be included in our diet than diet drinks and foods that leave us hungry and craving for food all the time. Cassava roots can be made into adai (thick pancakes), can be added to gravies, stir fried and made into nutritious snacks…
4. Cassava For Diabetes:
Cooked cassava has a low glycemic index of 46 which makes it very suitable for including the diet of diabetic patients. It is a good idea for diabetic patients to substitute white flour with cassava flour as it does not rise the blood sugar levels rapidly. The way cassava is prepared also makes a difference, I would suggest having it in the form of pancakes or boiled with salt and stir fried.
5. Cassava For Hair & Skin:
Cassava when consumed internally is great for hair and skin as it has all the important nutrients. Tapioca starch can be used as a thickener in homemade lotions and also can be used for making homemade bronzer. For making the bronzer, mix tapioca starch with organic cocoa powder and few drops of pure vanilla. The ratio can be varied depending on the skin type, an effective, allergy free, cheap bronzer that can be made in a matter of minutes!