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Cassava

27th January 2008;

These are some of the 258 girls we support in Secondary school.
As part of our Saturday and week-end classed we introduce them to new methods of food production in our gardens around our Centre for Learning.
Malawians are totally focused on Maize for their food. If the maize fails, as it often does, they just go hungry or even starve.

Cassava can help in the hungry season. It grows from cuttings and requites no fertilizer in contrast to the nutrient hungry maize.

Cassava has nearly twice the calories than that of potatoes and perhaps one of the highest value calorie food for any tropical starch-rich tubers and roots. 100 g root provides 160 calories. Their calorie value mainly comes from sucrose which accounts for more than 69% of total sugars. Amylose (16-17%) is another major source of complex carbohydrates.
Cassava is very low in fats and protein than in cereals and pulses. Nonetheless, it has more protein than that of other tropical food sources like yampotato, plantains, etc.

As in other roots and tubers, cassava also free from gluten. The gluten-free starch used in special food preparations for celiac disease patients.

Young tender cassava (yuca) leaves are a good source of dietary proteins and vitamin-K. Vitamin-K has a potential role in the bone strengthening by stimulating osteoblastic cells activity in the bones. It also has an established role in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease patients by limiting neuronal damage in the brain.

Cassava carries some of the valuable B-complex group of vitamins such as folates, thiamin, pyridoxine (vitamin B-6), riboflavin, and pantothenic acid.

It is one of the chief sources of some essential minerals like zinc, magnesium, copper, iron, and manganese for many inhabitants in the tropical belts. Also, it has adequate amounts of potassium (271 mg per 100g or 6% of RDA). Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids that help regulate heart rate and blood pressure.

Care must be taken in preparing and cooking.

In this area of Malawi it grows more slowly, but it can certainly stave off starvation.

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