Cassava is scientifically known as Manihot esculenta and it is cultivated throughout the tropical world for its tuberous roots, from which cassava flour, breads, tapioca, a laundry starch, and an alcoholic beverage are derived. Today, more than 80 countries throughout the tropics grow cassava, and it is a prime constituent of the diet of more than 800 million people around the world. It is prevalent because it is a crop that is resistant to drought and does not require much fertilizer according to Jamie Smith in an article titled Nutrition.
In Ghana and the West African sub-region, especially, cassava is used for a variety of food and food products such as gari, agbeli kaklo (fried cassava balls), cassava dough, akple or pounded as fufu; dried cassava chips, can also be processed into flour for the popular fast cooking meal called kokonte. Tapioca is another derivative of cassava that is processed into granules from cassava starch. Cassava is also used in producing alcoholic beverages including cassava beer and when distilled, ethanol is produced for industrial use – in the manufacture of cosmetics, plastics, lacquers, polishes, plasticizers, fabrics, and paper, building materials like plywood; for medical purposes – in medicine as a topical anti-infective, and as an antidote for ethylene glycol or methanol overdose.
Aside of the edible cassava, the peels are a valuable source of animal feed for ruminants, especially goats, sheep and cattle. .
The consumption of cassava is highly beneficial to the human body as it has valuable nutrients and vitamins. Cassava is useful in managing migraines, fever, treatment of diarrhoea, healing wounds, improving digestive health, and vision improvement; it also helps in weight loss, gaining appetite, control of intestinal worms including nematode lies, among others. Any wrong processing, however, destroys the nutritional value of cassava. It is best boiled to preserve its medical and health values.
According to online magazine, Heathline, cassava is high in resistant starch. High resistant starch has properties similar to soluble fibre. Consuming foods that are high in resistant starch may have several benefits for overall health. First of all, resistant starch feeds the beneficial bacteria in your gut, which may help decrease inflammation and promote digestion.
Resistant starch has also been known to aid better metabolic health and decrease the danger of obesity and type 2 diabetes. It has an ability to improve blood sugar control, in addition to its role in promoting fullness and reducing appetite. However, consuming high-calorie foods on a regularly is related with weight gain and obesity. Consume cassava in moderation and in reasonable portions as its high calorie count may do more harm than good for the general population.