Benefits & Side Effects Of Cassava You May Not Ignore

This post was most recently updated on July 25th, 2023


Tapioca, also known as cassava, is a humble root for US people. This root is associated with the lives of many people.

Cassava contains ingredients that have many health benefits. However, this root can also have adverse side effects on our health, especially when eaten raw or eaten in large quantities.

In this article, Health My Lives will help you learn about cassava tubers, the benefits, side effects as well as how to prepare cassava to limit the unwanted effects of this food.

What is a cassava tuber?

Cassava is native to South America. The most used part of cassava is its root because of its many benefits. Cassava roots accumulate starch and grow to form tubers.

Cassava is grown in tropical regions because of its ability to withstand extreme weather conditions. In the United States, people call cassava tubers as yuca, manioc, or arrowroot Brazil.

Cassava tubers are a rich source of calories and carbohydrates, often used in the meals of people in developing countries. We can eat the whole cassava tubers by boiling, cooking with tea, or can also be pulverized to make bread. Few people know that their tubers are the primary raw material in the production of tapioca starch in cuisine.

Nutrition facts in cassava tubers

Nutrition Facts of Cassava

Cassava is a root that is rich in carbohydrates. The 100g boiled cassava contains 112 calories. 98% of these calories come from carbs, and the rest is from small amounts of protein and fat. Cassava also provides our bodies with the right amount of fiber, minerals, and some other vitamins.

Nutrients found in 100g of boiled cassava:

  • Calories: 112
  • Carbohydrates: 27gm
  • Fiber: 1gm
  • Vitamin B1: 20% of the RDI
  • Phosphorus: 5% of the RDI
  • Calcium: 2% of the RDI
  • Vitamin B2: 2% of the RDI

RDI is the recommended daily intake.

Boiled cassava also contains small amounts of iron, vitamin C and Vitamin B3. In general, the nutritional content of cassava tubers is negligible. This bulb contains some vitamins and minerals but in shallow content.

Benefits of Cassava Tubers

Cassava has many benefits for us, especially those who are often allergic to cereals and nuts.

High-calorie intake

One hundred grams of cassava contains about 112 calories, quite high compared to other vegetables. Approximately the same amount of sweet potatoes provides only 76 calories, of which beets only provide 44 calories.

Thanks to its ability to provide more calories than other vegetables, cassava has become an essential crop for poor and developing countries.

However, the high-calorie content of cassava roots can also have a significant effect on consumers’ health. People who eat high-calorie foods regularly can lead to weight gain and obesity. Besides, it can increase the risk of diseases such as heart disease, blood pressure, diabetes, and osteoarthritis.

So, you need to eat cassava tubers in a moderate amount and divide it into suitable portions. A standard serving should only be at 73gm to 113gm of cassava.

Rich in resistant starch

Cassava is high in resistant starch, a type of carbohydrate that is not digested when it passes through the small intestine and has properties similar to soluble fiber. Eating these starchy foods can improve insulin sensitivity.

Resistant starch increases the number of beneficial bacteria in the intestines, which can help reduce inflammation and enhance digestion. In addition to that, it reduces obesity, lowers blood sugar level (Type 2 diabetes). Moreover, cassava plays an essential role in supporting weight loss and reduce appetite.

Although resistant starch offers many promising benefits, many processing methods can reduce the resistant starch content in cassava tubers. Tapioca products, such as tapioca flour, usually have lower amounts of resistant starch than boiled cassava alone.

Cassava Side Effects

Although having the benefits of cassava, there are some side effects, too. The different parts and form of cassava like flour, root, etc. can cause the serious side effects if not well cooked and taken properly.

The following are the possible side effects of cassava if you eat too much or failed to eat properly.

  • It lowers the iodine level.
  • May cause birth abnormality to pregnant women.
  • Increase the risk of thyroid disease.
  • May create allergies to latex.
  • Starch molecules in cassava may increase the risk of poisoning.
  • Nausea.
  • Weakness.
  • Headache.

Improper processing of cassava reduces its nutritional value

Many people do not know that the wrong processing can reduce the nutritional value of cassava tubers. If you peel, cut and cook, the nutritional value of potatoes will be significantly reduced. This is because many of the vitamins and minerals in cassava will be destroyed when you make the wrong way. Not only that, but the fiber and starch resistant also encountered the same situation. Therefore, foods made from cassava, such as tapioca and garri, have low nutritional value. About 30gm of pearl provides nothing but calories and a minimal amount of minerals.

Boiling has proven to be the best processing method, retaining most of the nutrients in cassava, except vitamin C because vitamin C is sensitive to heat and very soluble in water. Although cassava contains specific nutrients, processing methods can significantly reduce the value of these substances.

Can cassava tubers affect health?

Side effects of Cassava

Cassava is quite tasty and nutritious, but this root can be dangerous to the health of people who directly eat it without cooking. Raw cassava may contain toxins if consumed in large quantities and can cause poisoning.

The tubers of raw cassava contain relatively large amounts of cyanogen glycoside, which, when released into the body, releases harmful cyanide. Eating raw cassava regularly increases the risk of cyanide poisoning, and also reduces thyroid and nerve function. Furthermore, cyanide poisoning can cause paralysis, organ damage, and more cruel death.

People who have metabolic problems or have difficulty in absorbing protein are at a higher risk of cyanide poisoning because protein helps remove cyanide from the body. This is also why cassava cyanide poisoning is more common in developing countries than in developed countries because people in these countries often suffer from protein deficiency and regularly consume cassava as a significant source of calories.

Furthermore, in some areas of the world, cassava has been shown to absorb toxic chemicals from the soil, such as arsenic and cadmium. This may increase the risk of cancer in people who eat a lot of cassava.

Cassava also contains anti-nutrients

Cassava contains not only cyanogen glycoside, which can cause poisoning, but it also contains many anti-nutritional compounds.

Anti-nutrients are natural compounds that can be found in many foods, especially plants. Anti-nutrients interfere with digestion while inhibiting the absorption of vitamins and minerals in the body.

Anti-nutrients are natural compounds that can be found in many foods, especially plants. Anti-nutrients interfere with digestion while inhibiting the absorption of vitamins and minerals in the body.

While it may not affect most healthy people, these compounds can affect people with health problems.

Anti-nutrients can prevent the absorption process and increase the risk of malnutrition.

Here are some anti-nutrients found in cassava:

  • Saponin: An anti-nutritional substance that can reduce the absorption of some vitamins and minerals.
  • Phytate: This anti-nutrient may interfere with the absorption of magnesium, calcium, iron, and zinc.
  • Tannin: Reduces protein metabolism and disrupts the absorption of iron, zinc, copper, and vitamin B1.

The effects of these anti-nutrients are even more pronounced when we consume foods high in these compounds. Therefore, you should balance the amount of cassava in your diet to limit the impact of the anti-nutrients on health.

In fact, in some cases, antinutrients like tannins and saponins may have some health benefits.

How to prepare cassava to ensure safety for health?

Recipe for Cassava

In general, cassava is safe for health if properly prepared and eaten in moderation. Here are the processing steps to help ensure your health when eating cassava:


Cassava tubers contain most of the cyanide compounds. Therefore, you should clean it before processing cassava to avoid the risk of cyanide poisoning.


To reduce the amount of toxic substances in cassava tubers, you should soak the tapioca in water for 48 to 60 hours before processing.


Because of the toxins found in raw cassava, it is essential to cook cassava by boiling, steaming, or baking. This is considered the most crucial step to help eliminate the toxins in cassava tubers, helping to safeguard your health.

Eating with protein

You should eat cassava with foods high in protein such as eggs, milk, nuts because protein helps to remove cyanide toxins from the body.

Keep a balanced diet

You can prevent side effects from cassava by setting up a menu that includes a wide variety of foods and limiting your intake of cassava too often.

Cassava root products such as tapioca flour and tapioca flour contain very few compounds that make cyanide and are safer for our health.

Cassava Uses

Cassava is a food that is widely used in cuisine because it provides abundant calories for the body. The way to make cassava is often similar to the method of making tubers such as sweet potatoes, potatoes to create delicious and nutritious dishes.

You can make cassava as main dishes and snacks for the whole family. The most familiar dish for us in the USA is boiled cassava, steamed cassava with coconut milk, baked bread, silkworm bread.

Besides, you can use cassava tubers for cooking soup as an ingredient for some cakes. Also, cassava is used to make tapioca, a flour used to enhance the consistency of dishes such as soups, cakes, and teas.

Hopefully, with the information that Health My Lives shared above, you got to know a lot of useful information about this type of root, knew how to prepare to receive benefits, and minimize side effects.

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Written by Dr. Ganga Sapkota
Updated on July 25, 2023

A graduated medical physician with years of experience in the medical field. Working as a full-time physician in Puspanjali Hospital, Chitwan, Nepal.