Originally growing in the South-American region, cassava is a perennial, starch-tuber plant that grows best in well-drained and tropical soils. The size of a completely grown plant usually reaches more than four meters. Its chewy and sweet underground tuber enjoys a high degree of popularity as an edible root vegetable. For centuries people in Asia, Africa and South America have been using cassava as the source for staple food. Millions of the inhabitants from regions mentioned above consider cassava an integral part of their everyday menu.
For the first time the plant was documented long time ago, almost five thousand years ago. Its exact place of origin is still unknown, but the most recent investigations have shown its roots somewhere in South or Central America, probably along the Brazil border. In South America cassava was the staple crop used by the Amerindians. They processed it into meal and bread just like the Amerindians of the XXI century do. As the Portuguese started importing slaves from the African continent in 1550, cassava was the number one provision on the board.
Cassava roots and leaves contain high levels of hydrocyanic acid that is toxic. Nonetheless, once the plant is cooked, the poisonous elements disappear. It is important to discard the water that the cassava leaves were boiled in.
The plant is high in protein. For instance, one hundred grams of cooked cassava leaves supply human organism with more than 3,7 grams of protein. Besides, its leaves also contain a range of proteins that are quite similar to the ones of soybeans and eggs. There are some of the other elements as well as those that are not common for the green leafy plants: leucine, lysine, valine, etc. The amazing protein source is also comparable to sweet potato and peanut leaves.
As for the taste, cassava doesn’t have much flavor and it can easily absorb all kinds of flavors you may add. In other words, adding meats and spices will improve the flavor greatly. In addition to the marvelous taste, cooked cassava makes us happy with only 27 calories per 100 grams. So, if you’re working hard on your weight loss, cassava is your best friend.
Even though in modern society cassava is not popular as a snack, there are some reasons why people should change their attitude towards it. First of all because cassava roots are rich in calcium and starch, phosphorus as well as dietary fiber, vitamins B6, C, iron, manganese. These elements are closely associated with lowering the risks of colon cancer, cardiovascular diseases and controlling diabetes.
According to the most recent study performed by the scientists of Philippines (the region, where cassava is one of the most vital crops), the plant can lower cholesterol levels for people, who suffer from moderately-raised levels of cholesterol. The investigation has shown that cassava can get the total cholesterol levels down significantly, as well as decrease the low density lipoprotein known as “bad” cholesterol. And finally, due to the high content of dietary fiber the plant helps lower triglyceride levels.
In order to give cassava superb attention and treatment that it deserves, Bill Gates is on his way to cassava revolution. While the majority of people in developed countries have a direct access to any kind of nutritious foods, many of those in poorer lands do not. With the help of his foundation, Bill Gates will improve cassava breeding and develop a new cassava variety while implementing his five-year research project.
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