This is an annual tropical root crop that is the staple crop of Africa. It is annual but could be described as a perennial.
The crop could stay in the ground unharnessed for up to 2 years without adverse effect on the nutritional value of the roots. It is a shrub that belongs to the family Euphobaceae.
The wild cassava also belongs to this family. It is propagated through the use of stem cuttings. The stem which grows up to 3 meters or more, depending on the varieties, could be erect or with branching stems. The parts that are of use are the roots and the leaves.
NUTRITIONAL/ MEDICINAL PROPERTIES
The root is almost wholly carbohydrates with negligible amount of proteins, fats and vitamins. The tuber is 70% water. Depending on the varieties, bitter or sweet, the tuber contains cyanogenic glycoside which produces hydrogen cyanide (HCN) a lethal acid
Thermobility of Hydrogen Cyanide
Hydrogen Cyaanide- HCN is thermobile i.e. it is destroyed by cooking or heat. Besides, during fermentation, the acid is also destroyed. The seed varieties have no cyanide and the tuber can be eaten raw.
The leaves on the other hand have very high content of vitamins including vitamin B complex, vitamins A and K. The mineral content of the leaves, including essential trace minerals like cobalt, manganese, copper, and iron, is very high. The potassium and magnesium contents are high also. In Congo and Uganda, some farmers grow cassava for their leaves as vegetables for thickening soup. The protein content is very high and up to 25%-40%
Cassava have many health benefits
Tapioca is made from cassava tubers.
- De skin the cassava.
- Ferment for at least 72 hours.
It has been proved that the consumption of tapioca is very soothing and curative for gastro-intestinal ulcers. The mechanism or biochemistry of this action is still been investigated.
Cure for Diarrhea and Gastroenteritis
Basically, it is for stomach infection and disorders. Consumption of tapioca has been found to be extremely helpful for these conditions
They are underground tuberous roots that are very high in starch content and medicinal substances
It is a vine that creeps on the soil with broad leaves which are also medicinal. There are two broad varieties of those with white skin and those with red skins. There are also those with yellow flesh (have beta carotene) and those with white flesh
NUTRITIONAL BIOCHEMICAL PROPERTIES
It has high mineral content potassium. It is also very rich in vitamin C while those with orange yellow flesh are very high in beta carotene, a precursor of vitamin A-They get converted to vitamin A on consumption. The starch in sweet potato provides slow releasing energy thereby avoiding the upsurge of glucose in the blood at any point in time. This is why it can be consumed by diabetics despite its sweetness.
At times, science defiles common sense. Whereas the common logic is that diabetics should avoid eating sweet food items, they are on the other hand advised to eat sweet potatoes for its blood sugar regulating capacity and tendency.
This is achieved through the nature of the starch in sweet potatoes. It provides slow- release energy. This ensures that that there is no influx or upsurge of glucose in the blood, thereby making the blood sugar stable. There are some other foods that are not sweet but the digestion of the starch or carbohydrates releases energy into the blood stream so fast that the blood glucose level quickly exceeds 90-120mg/dL. Polished rice is one of such foods; white bread is another such food. They have high glycemic index
Antioxidant activities and general good health
The high vitamin C and the beta carotene of sweet potatoe make them have excellent antioxidants activities that help to mop up free radicals. This has been found to be preventive of cancers and other diseases, including some forms of viral infections, like flu and colds.
The consumption of sweet potatoes also facilitates accelerated healing of wounds because of the vitamin C content. Also, the consumption of sweet potatoes confers some immunity on the individuals because of the rich vitamin and mineral content