To understand yuca nutrition, it is important to distinguish between different types of yuca and their common use. Yuca is the root of the cassava plant. These vegetables are often cooked or fried as potatoes and consumed as a snack or side dish. Root vegetables are not to be confused with the ornamental plant “yucca”, which is often used for medicinal purposes.
What is Yucca?
Yucca is a shrub native to Central America. It is a perennial plant and has been used by Native Americans to make ropes and baskets for centuries. Yucca is different from Yuca and should not be confused with it. Yucca is a Caribbean cassava and is a completely different shrub.
Yucca root can also be consumed and is known by different names in different regions. Some of these include Guardian of the Desert, Spanish Bayonet, Needle Palm, The Joshua Tree and Soapweed, Lord’s Candle. Yucca alone has more than 40 species. The most commonly used include Yucca filamentosa used as an alternative to other species, and Yucca baccata and Yucca glauca.
If you are wondering if cassava root is too starchy to provide health benefits, you will be pleasantly surprised to learn about its nutritional value and potential.
Yuca Nutrition Facts (Cassava Root)
The following nutrition information is provided by the USDA for 1/2 cup (103 g) of raw cassava root (aka yuca).
- Calorie: 165
- Thick: 0.3 g
- Sodium: 14mg
- Carbohydrates: 39 g
- Fiber: 1.9 g
- Sugars: 1.8 g
- Protein: 1.4 g
Yuca is a starch vegetable with 39 grams of carbohydrates per half cup. Most of the carbohydrates in yucca come from starch. Less than 2 grams are made from fiber and 1.8 grams come from naturally occurring sugar.
There is very little fat (less than half a gram) in half a cup of raw yucca. Keep in mind, however, that yuca is often cooked using added fat.
Yuca provides very little protein, with 1.4 grams per half cup. There are trace amounts of 18 different amino acids in yucea.
Vitamins and minerals
Yuca provides choline, vitamin A, folate, vitamin C, magnesium and calcium. It has an extremely high potassium content.
Yuca Health Benefits
The health benefits of Yucca Root include improving digestion, treating constipation, preventing diabetes, treating inflammation, healing ulcers, boosting energy and immunity, treating headaches and relieving stress, relieving joint pain and arthritis, preventing hyperglycemia, lowering cholesterol, supporting cardiovascular health, supporting weight loss, and slowing down the aging process.
Yuca has several health benefits that it can offer as part of a plant-based diet plan. Here are some reasons to try it.
1. Protects heart health
A cup of raw yucca has 558 milligrams of potassium, which provides 16% to 21% of a sufficient level of intake for most adults. Potassium plays a vital role in regulating blood pressure, reducing the risk of stroke and heart disease.
Yuca is also a great source of vitamin C and folate, two vital nutrients for heart health. Choosing yucy and other tubers (like potatoes) instead of rice or wheat flour can increase your daily potassium intake for better cardiovascular protection (source).
2. Promotes wound healing
There is about 42 milligrams of vitamin C in a cup of cassava and one root is doubled.Vitamin C is an antioxidant and precursor of collagen, a key component of skin integrity.
Sufficient vitamin C is known to promote wound healing. Choosing yucy along with various fruits and vegetables supports your body’s recovery system after injury or infection (source).
3. Improves eye health
In an effort to improve vitamin A levels in countries that rely on cassava as a staple food, researchers have found ways to successfully produce fortified varieties high in carotenoids.
These yellow genotypes benefit public health for all ages, especially in terms of vision and prevention of age-related macular degeneration, which are well-established benefits of adequate vitamin A intake (source).
4. Prevents iron deficiency anemia
Similarly, manioc can be iron-enriched to help reduce the global prevalence of malnutrition, especially iron deficiency.The addition of iron to cassava, which already contains vitamin C, increases the absorption of plant-based iron. Iron deficiency anemia is particularly common in women of childbearing potential and children (source).
This can lead to a number of health problems, including birth defects, infant mortality, cognitive impairment and poor immunity.Nutritional enrichment of the cassava plant can turn yucca into a staple food with much more than high-energy starch (source).
5. It can help in the production of breast milk
Starchy foods such as bread, oatmeal, sweet potatoes, rice and pasta are often recommended to help increase milk intake during breastfeeding.Cassava is another complex carbohydrate option that is a rich source of starch and energy.
Cassava sauce and tubers are commonly used to increase the supply of breast milk to women in the western Sierra Leone.Although no studies definitely recommend yuca for breastfeeding, her nutritional makeup is promising for this benefit (source).
6. Improves digestion and treats constipation
Due to its enrichment with a high content of dietary fiber, yucca root provides a digestive system in digestion and facilitates bowel movements. Fiber is harmless and also prevents weight gain. The large intestine controls the excretory process and the high fiber content of yucca root proves to help a lot in the process of digestion and defecation. Lack of fiber causes stool hardness and therefore constipation. The fibers add in bulk while softening the stool, making the whole process of excretion easy and painless.
7. Prevention of Diabetes
Yucca root is incredibly low in glycemic index (GI) and people with diabetes are advised not to consume juices with high GI. By causing insulin sensitivity, yucca root also helps prevent type 2 diabetes.
8. Cures inflammation and treats ulcers
Harmful toxins and microorganisms cause inflammation in the body. The high content of saponin and antioxidants in yucca root is beneficial in reducing inflammatory factors and other harmful substances in the body. The antioxidants, fiber and other active ingredients in yucca root have anti-gastritis properties that help prevent and treat ulcers.
9. Strengthens energy and immunity
Carbohydrates are considered the main source of energy. With a high carbohydrate content in yucca root, it is one of the best natural energy boosters. It is a perfect alternative to staple foods like sweet potato, cassava and potato. Yucca root is enriched with antioxidants such as zinc, vitamin C and other nutrients. Together these nutrients strengthen the function of the immune system and help in the optimal fight against internal toxins.
10. It cures headaches and relieves stress
The constrictive blood flow causes the nerve to push too hard, causing headaches. Magnesium and manganese are great nerve stabilizers for pain. Therefore, it can be beneficial if consumed during headaches. Antioxidants and the high content of other nutrients in yucca root that have soothing properties like magnesium can help relieve stress.
11. Relieves joint pain and arthritis
Plenty of protein is found in yucca root. It is very beneficial not only for muscle growth but also for cell growth and repair. It also prevents damage to cells caused by various toxins within the body toxins. A 2006 study published in the Journal of Inflammation found that the nutrients in yucca root, the most important of which include yuccaol, saponine and resveratrol, are extremely anti-inflammatory and quite beneficial in reducing joint pain and arthritis symptoms.
12. Prevents hyperglycemia
Insulin resistance and lack of insulin cause a condition called hyperglycemia. Saponin is an active substance in yucca root and is very beneficial in stabilizing blood sugar levels, thus preventing hyperglycemia.
13. Helps lower cholesterol
Fiber not only helps to facilitate the defecation process and relieves constipation, but also has binding properties. Fiber binds cholesterol and removes it from the body through excretion, ultimately lowering cholesterol levels and improving cardiovascular health.
14. Weight loss support
Any wound received from either a cut or an insect bite can be treated by applying yucca root extract to the skin. The high protein content of yucca root is ideal for cell growth and cell repair, thus increasing the rate at which cell formation takes place. The presence of high dietary fiber in yucca root not only benefits digestion and the intestinal process, but its consumption also makes you feel full for a longer period of time and helps to avoid eating for longer hours. Other nutrient-dense properties of yucca help the body hydrate and prevent the body from gaining excess water weight.
15. Help Strengthens the skin
Due to the cleansing properties of saponin in yucca root, the blood remains clean and the body as a whole eliminates harmful toxins. This helps maintain healthy skin. It also makes it look cleaner, younger and fairer. The properties of yucca root help to keep the skin tight and firm. The antioxidants in yucca root free the skin from free radicals and help keep skin fresh and youthful for longer.
16. Cures Atherosclerosis
Free radicals in the body cause a condition in which the body is destroyed because of them and is known as oxidative stress. The yucca’s rich antioxidant properties help prevent oxidative stress and protect the body’s cells from being damaged by free radicals.
Obesity and the accumulation of cholesterol cause serious problems in the walls of the arteries, a condition called atherosclerosis. Accumulated cholesterol makes the heart prone to heart failure and other types of dysfunction. Antioxidants and the presence of fiber in yucca lower cholesterol levels and prevent its accumulation in the walls of arteries.
In addition, as an added benefit, saponin is not only a wonderful cleanser in yucca root, it also supports hair growth. Many prominent companies in America include yucca root as an ingredient in their natural shampoos to promote hair care – making hair voluminous, shiny and healthy and an overall treatment for baldness
In addition to being consumed as food, manioc root is commonly used to make starch (replacing potato or corn starch) and to make pharmaceutical tablets. It is a common ingredient in baby food processing because it is generally believed that it is not allergenic.
However, isolated cases of allergic reactions have been reported, including subjects in 2003 in Mozambique, 2004 in Brazil and 2007 in Spain.Cassava allergy has been shown to induce anaphylaxis and is believed to be associated with latex allergies, but more extensive studies are needed to confirm this association (source).
If you suspect a yucu allergy, see an allergist for further testing and evaluation.
Yuca Side Effects
Side effects on yucu are unlikely if it is not eaten raw and the right preparation methods are not used. Like many plant foods, cassava contains naturally occurring cyanide. This can lead to neurotoxicity at high levels.
To release cyanogenic compounds, the cassava must be soaked and dried in the sun, grated and baked, boiled or fermented.After processing, yuca is safe to eat (source).
Various varieties of yuca have been produced to support certain beneficial properties, including nutritional (such as vitamin fortification or taste) and agricultural (higher yield or disease resistance). In general, there are two basic types: sweet and bitter (source).
A study in Uganda found that most local farmers grow one to four different varieties on their farms, while others can grow up to 14 varieties at a time.The names of the different varieties vary according to the locality and may be based on the area where it is grown, the taste, the cooking characteristics, the ripening times or a number of other descriptors.
When it’s best
Some – but not all – grocery stores sell yucu in the production part of the market. Yuca can be found near other root vegetables such as potatoes, turnips or pits all year round (source).
Look for reddish-brown club-shaped vegetables that are firm and firm and have a few blemishes.Keep in mind that bark-like bark is removed before cooking, so dirt or slight blemishes are not a problem.
Yuca storage and safety
Yuca should be stored in a cool, dry, dark place for about a week. Before preparing yucy, wash thoroughly under running water. After peeling, you can store the yucu in a refrigerator immersed in water for several days. Peeled yucu can also be tightly wrapped and frozen for several months.
How to consume Yuca
Yuca has a starchy taste and a potato-like texture, but is slightly sweeter and more nutty than potatoes. The most common way to prepare yucca is to fry it. You can also prepare baked yuca fries, which provide a healthier alternative to French fried potatoes. You can also mash or bake cassava root (source).
Yuca can be ground and used to make baked goods, such as bread and fries, or cooked to make tapioca. Traditional African dishes using yuca include Fu Fu (manioc flour dough and served in soup) and Chikwangue (crushed cassava cooked in banana leaves).
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