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Is Cassava Ok on The Candida Diet?

Cassava (Manihot esculenta), similar in shape to sweet potatoes, is a root vegetable. It is also known as aipim, bread of the tropics, mandioca, manioc, garri, yuca, and tapioca plant. It is a nutty-flavored tuber that is grown widely in developing countries because of its high caloric and carbohydrate content. (1)

Cassava is used for both medicinal and culinary purposes. It was first cultivated and consumed by the people living in eastern Bolivia and southern Brazil thousands of years ago. Nowadays, it is used as a food in tropical regions around the world. Being a drought-tolerant crop, it can withstand harsh environmental conditions and is cultivated in tropical regions. Raw cassava may cause cyanide poisoning that’s why it is suggested to cook properly before eating. Moreover, overcooked cassava may lack essential nutrients so cook properly. (1)


Nutrient Profile of Cassava

One ounce of cassava (28.34 grams) contains 54 calories. (2) Cassava is a rich source of carbohydrates, sugar, and dietary fibers. It contains minerals and vitamins necessary to support the body’s daily functioning. Small amounts of proteins are also present in cassava.


Carbohydrates

One ounce of cassava (28.34 grams) contains 11 grams of carbohydrates, including 0.5 grams of sugar. (2) Cassava is a low glycemic plant with a glycemic index of 44. So, they are also suitable for diabetic people.


Fibers

One ounce of cassava (28.34 grams) contains 0.5 grams of dietary fiber, 2% of an adult’s required daily intake (RDI) of dietary fibers. (2) Insoluble fiber can help promote regular bowel movements and prevents constipation.


Protein

One ounce of cassava (28.34 grams) contains 0.4 grams of protein. (2) This is a very negligible amount of protein.


Fats

One ounce of cassava (28.34 grams) contains 0.9 grams of fat. This is a minute amount of fats per serving. (2) It is very low in saturated fats containing 0.2 grams of saturated fatty acids. Consuming foods high in unsaturated fatty acids can improve blood cholesterol levels, which leads to a lower risk of diabetes and heart disease.


Vitamins & Minerals

Cassava contains vitamins and trace minerals. One ounce of cassava (28.34 grams) contains 5.2 milligrams of vitamin C. Vitamin C is necessary for skin health and immunity. One ounce also contains 6.8 micrograms of vitamin B9 (folate), which is necessary for normal cellular function. (2)

One ounce of cassava (28.34 grams) contains 79.95 milligrams of potassium. Potassium improves the flow of blood to the brain and regulates blood pressure. One ounce of cassava (28.34 grams) contains 6.24 milligrams of magnesium. Magnesium is a trace element, necessary for many body processes and functions. Cassava is also a good source of sodium, copper, iron, selenium, phosphorus, vitamin A, K, B6, and E. (2)


Antioxidants in Cassava

The body contains free radicals that are unstable molecules disturbing the body's normal functioning when accumulated at high concentrations. These accumulated free radicals must be removed; antioxidants are the compounds that help to remove them. Antioxidants come from mostly plant-based foods.

Cassava contains a variety of antioxidants. It has specific compounds with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity. Phenolic compounds, saponins, alkaloids, and anthraquinones are the antioxidants in cassava, responsible for antioxidant activity. These antioxidants capture the body’s free radicals and convert them into compounds useful for the body. (3)

A combination of carotenoids (beta-carotene) with vitamin A helps keep the eye healthy and prevent other complications. Moreover, these antioxidants reduce the risk of cancer and heart disorders. They have an anti-inflammatory role that helps to reduce and prevent inflammation. Phenolic compounds act as antiaging agents. They help in maintaining blood sugar and cholesterol levels. They regulate the normal functioning of the nervous system and immune system. (4)


Health Benefits of Cassava

Cassava is an excellent source of vitamin A and carotenoids including provitamin A carotenoids that help increase the absorption of Vitamin A. Vitamin A plays a significant role in improving vision and maintaining healthy eyesight. Moreover, consumption of cassava reduces the risk associated with the deficiency of Vitamin A such as poor eyesight and blindness. (5)

Cassava is high in dietary fiber, which is beneficial for promoting gut health. It is a good source of resistant starch – a type of starch with characteristics of both soluble and insoluble fibers. Resistant starch acts as a prebiotic. It promotes the growth of your gut flora thus improves digestive health. Cassava reduces inflammation by eliminating all toxic substances from the intestines. (6)

Consumption of dietary fibers reduces blood cholesterol levels, improves blood sugar levels, and improves overall digestive system health. (7)

Cassava is a good choice for diarrhea treatment. The antioxidants of cassava roots help in relieving the symptoms of diarrhea. (8)

Cassava being high in dietary fibers helps you lose weight. This high dietary content will help you feel full for a longer period, reducing excessive eating, and promotes weight loss. In addition, resistant starch plays a significant role in reducing appetite and promoting fullness. (9)

One of the amazing health benefits of cassava is cancer prevention. Cassava, a medicinal plant, is popular nowadays as a treatment for cancer. But more scientific research and evidence are required to support this anti-cancer benefit. (10)

Cassava leaves are a good source of magnesium. Consumption of an adequate amount of magnesium helps in lowering high blood pressure and minimizing the risk for rheumatic diseases including arthritis, lupus, osteoporosis, and spondylitis. Thus, the magnesium content and antioxidants of Cassava helps in the treatment and prevention of rheumatic diseases. (4)

Cassava is rich in insoluble fibers and resistant starch which contribute to improving metabolism, reducing type 2 diabetes, and diabetes-associated obesity. Insoluble fibers of cassava maintain blood glucose levels by increasing metabolism. Its consumption improves glucose tolerance thus prevents the onset of type 2 diabetes. (11)

Consumption of cassava strengthens immunity and is good for your overall health. Vitamin C is necessary for improving the defense system and boosting immunity. Cassava is an excellent source of Vitamin C and folate, boosting immune health. Vitamins kill microbes and strengthen the immune system by attacking their nucleus. (12)

Cassava is a nutrient-rich plant and crushed cassava leaves are great for wound healing. It has antioxidants and nutrients that help in promoting healing and prevent wounds from becoming infected.


Negative Health Effects of Cassava

Cyanide poisoning is the most common negative health effect of cassava observed in many individuals. Cassava contains certain sugar molecules which are known as cyanogenic glycosides. When cyanogenic glycosides are consumed, they release cyanides into your digestive tract. Cassava is harmful when taken raw or not cooked properly. In addition, excessive intake of cassava is also dangerous as it may cause cyanide accumulation leading to poisoning. Moreover, the consumption of cassava with a low-protein diet is not safe for your health. It may cause certain complications in nutrient-deficient people. Protein helps to eliminate cyanides. (13)

Raw cassava contains a high amount of naturally occurring forms of cyanide that are toxic to digest and may cause cyanide poisoning. Properly cooked cassava reduces the naturally occurring cyanide content and makes it safe for eating. Cyanide poisoning may cause serious health complications including increased risk of impaired thyroid function, organ damage, paralysis in children, tropical ataxic neuropathy in adults, and eventually death. Symptoms of cyanide poisoning are headache, nausea, confusion, restlessness, and weakness. (13)


Cassava on The Candida Diet

The following nutrition information is provided by the USDA for 1 cup (103g) of raw cassava.

Calories: 165

Fat: 0.3g

Sodium: 14.4mg

Carbohydrates: 39g

Fiber: 1.9g

Sugars: 1.8g

Protein: 1.4g

You can't cut off all carbs on the Candida Diet because your red and white blood cells need some carbs daily to function. We suggest 50 to 60 grams of carbohydrates a day to satisfy that need. Therefore, consuming 1 cup of cassava with 39grams of carbs at one time is not a good idea. That only leaves you 21 grams of leeway the rest of the day. We suggest spreading out that 60 grams between meals, so 20 grams of carbs per meal.

Now if you ate ½ cup the carb amount would be 20 grams, which is acceptable. Make sure you cook it correctly so you don't get cyanide poisoning.


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Medical References

1.     Hirst KK. The History and Domestication of Cassava. 2019. p. 4–7.
2.     Cassava, cooked nutrition facts and analysis.
3.     erson AS o, Miacute rian AIS, Rodrigo MF, Mariana AB, Tamara RM, Mariene HD, et al. Antioxidants and chlorophyll in cassava leaves at three plant ages. African J Agric Res. 2013;8(28):3724–30.
4.     Yi B, Hu L, Mei W, Zhou K, Wang H, Luo Y, et al. Antioxidant Phenolic Compounds of Cassava (Manihot esculenta) from Hainan. Molecules [Internet]. 2011;16(12):10157–67.
5.     Agbaje GO, Tayo O, Chioma GO, Ajomale KO, Plantation M, Remo I. Evaluation of Yellow-Rooted Cassava Varieties for Differences in ß-Carotene and Gross Energy. 2007;3(10):946–8.
6.     Keenan MJ, Zhou J, Hegsted M, Pelkman C, Durham HA, Coulon DB, et al. Role of resistant starch in improving gut health, adiposity, and insulin resistance. Adv Nutr. 2015 Mar;6(2):198–205.
7.     Birt DF, Boylston T, Hendrich S, Jane J-L, Hollis J, Li L, et al. Resistant starch: promise for improving human health. Adv Nutr. 2013 Nov;4(6):587–601.
8.     Prasetia KD, Kesetyaningsih TW. Effectiveness of growol to prevent diarrhea infected by enteropathogenic escherichia coli. Int J ChemTech Res. 2015;7(6):2601–11.
9.     Aller EEJG, Abete I, Astrup A, Martinez JA, van Baak MA. Starches, sugars and obesity. Nutrients [Internet]. 2011/03/14. 2011 Mar;3(3):341–69.
10.     Abeygunasekera AM, Palliyaguruge KH. Does cassava help to control prostate cancer? A case report. J Pharm Technol Drug Res. 2013;2(1):3.
11.     OC O, EO F, RT I, KO O, DO S, TM O, et al. Blood glucose response on consumption of cassava varieties (Garri) in healthy Nigerian subjects. J Nutr Hum Heal. 2018;02(01).
12.     Mensah JK, Okoli RI, Ohaju-Obodo JO, Eifediyi K. Phytochemical, nutritional and medical properties of some leafy vegetables consumed by Edo people of Nigeria. African J Biotechnol. 2008;7(14):2304–9.
13.     Teles FFF. Chronic poisoning by hydrogen cyanide in cassava and its prevention in Africa and  Latin America. Food Nutr Bull. 2002 Dec;23(4):407–12.



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