Monday, April 19, 2010

A Curious Case of Cassava

I decided to find out more on ubi kayu (tapioca, cassava or manioc) after my sister told me about its goodness to children development after she came back from Institut Nury since my Second Angel has to undergo strict diet to 'get his brain circuit functioning well'.

Back in old days, we had fried ubi kayu, ketuk-ketuk (boiled ubi kayu mixed with sugar and kelapa parut then deep friend in gold-ball size), boiled ubi kayu and sambal tumis ikan bilis, ikan masin goreng and kelapa parut for breakfast. For tea, we had bingka ubi and air gula ubi. These dishes seem unhealthy but they sound fitting to shore up depleted energy after we have to do some serious 'tug-of-war' pulling them out the grounds!

However, if we wondered a little bit on how our forefathers and mothers could survive on ubi kayu during "Zaman Penjajahan", living life unmechanically improvised, we would realise that this plain, starchy ubi kayu is their real deal energy bar!

Thanks to Dr. Joseph Mercola, who unveils his new Energy Bar called Organic Cocoa Cassava today, I finally found answers to my curiosity.

"Tapioca is the third largest source of carbohydrates in the world and is a staple food for more than 500 million people. Among crop plants, the cassava plant provides the highest yield of food energy per cultivated area per day, next to sugarcane.

Cassava root is very rich in starch and contains significant amounts of calcium, dietary fiber (that has been associated with lowering the risk of cardiovascular diseases, colon cancer, and helping control diabetes), iron, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, vitamin b6 and vitamin C.

A recent study conducted in the Philippines (one of the countries where cassava is an important crop) looked into the effects of root crops and legumes in lowering cholesterol levels among humans with moderately-raised cholesterol levels.

The study showed that cassava significantly decreased total cholesterol levels, decreased low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol (considered as “bad” cholesterol), and may help lower triglyceride levels due to its high total dietary fiber content.

Other studies show that cassava may help support the nervous system and help alleviate stress, anxiety and irritable bowel syndrome.

Cassava flour does not contain gluten, an allergenic protein found in wheat, barley, oats and rye. It can be used by gluten intolerant people to replace wheat flour.

Cassava can also be used for French fries instead of potatoes". This made me thinking why we opt for fibreless, nutritional deficient, chemical laden fries when we could always go for a fresher ubi kayu fries!

So, how about their leaves, that taste heavenly, cooked in rich coconut milk along with boiled mung beans, tinged with spicy bird eyes chillies, ikan bilis and shallots pounded together, or plainly appetising when they are boiled till tender and then dip in peanut sauce (uncooked sambal kacang)?

I found one research paper on their nutritional values. Surprisingly, they are high in proteins, minerals and vitamins, compared to other vegetables, Healthy-wise, they could be used to treat and prevent anaemia, protein and Vitamin A deficiencies.

My curious case of cassava has been answered and I hope you could see them in brighter, healthier light now.

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