There are two types of cassava, sweet and bitter. The sweet belongs to the speciesManihot utilissima, which is used as a vegetable. It has a mild flavor when boiled, and is tastier and sweeter when fried. Bitter is considered toxic (or at least more than sweet) if not treated properly. It belongs to the speciesManhiot esculenta, which is from which the starch or tapioca is extracted.
Its nutritional value lies in the contribution of carbohydrates from the root, specifically 38%. Although it has a comparatively low content of vitamins and minerals, it should not be forgotten that for certain world populations cassava is the main source of some minerals such as potassium and calcium, in addition to vitamins such as C, B1, B2 and B5. In addition, it has a high water content.
In contrast, cassava is poor in protein and fat, although it must be said that its protein has an interesting biological value despite the fact that methionine and cysteine are its limiting amino acids.
When its nutritional value is compared with that of other staple foods in the world, it is observed that cassava is a good source of energy, but has a very low density of essential nutrients and proteins, as happens to the potato, for example.
Advantages and disadvantages of cassava consumption
Cassava is an appropriate food for all ages. Thanks to its energy contribution, it is especially suitable for people who carry out an activity that causes great physical wear and tear, such as athletes.
Another of its benefits is that, as it does not contain gluten, celiacs can eat it without problem.
Tapioca, which is the starch extracted from cassava, is very digestive and is also rich in carbohydrates and energy, so its consumption is recommended in children and the elderly, and also for those with gastrointestinal disorders such as heartburn, gastritis or colitis.
However, it is also important to note that, like other foods, cassava or cassava has a series of antinutrients and toxic components that can be worrisome if the food is not treated properly. The next section explains why it can be toxic, and what measures must be taken before consumption.