Cassava Roots During Pregnancy

A nutrient-rich, well-rounded diet is essential for a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby.  For that, you should incorporate a wide range of foods from all the food groups. This includes root vegetable as well. Root vegetables are considered as an inexpensive way to take in many essential nutrients during pregnancy, which is beneficial for the health of expecting mothers and healthy development of the unborn baby.

However, there are several safety concerns and guidelines for consuming root vegetables during pregnancy. In this blog, you can learn the benefits, health concerns, and guidelines for consuming cassava root during pregnancy.

  • What Is Cassava Root?
  • What Is The Nutritional Value Of Cassava Root?
  • Does Cooking Affect  The Nutritional Value Of Cassava Roots?
  • Is Eating Cassava Safe During Pregnancy?
  • Is Eating Cassava Chips Safe During Pregnancy?
  • What Is The Safest Quantity Of Cassava Root To Consume During Pregnancy?
  • Are The Products Made From Cassava Roots Safe During Pregnancy?
  • Does Cassava Increase The Chances Of Twins?
  • What Are The Benefits Of Cassava Roots During Pregnancy?  
  • What Are The Side Effects Of Cassava Root During Pregnancy?
  • How To Select And Store Cassava?
  • How Do You Know If Cassava Is Bad?
  • How To Safely Prepare Cassava For Consumption During Pregnancy?
  • How To Incorporate Cassava Into The Pregnancy Diet?

What Is Cassava Root?

Cassava is a starchy, versatile root vegetable grown in tropical regions of the world. It is a major staple food in developing counties. It can be consumed in different ways. You can cook the whole root and make several yummy dishes. You can also prepare cassava flour by grating, sun drying and powdering cassava root. This flour can be used in bread, soups, cakes, and crackers.

What Is The Nutritional Value Of Cassava Root?

Broadly saying, raw cassava is about 60% water, 38% carbohydrates, and around 1% protein. The fat content of this root vegetable is negligible.

Here is the nutritional value of 100 grams of raw cassava root

Calories 160 K cal
Carbs 38 grams
Fibers 1 gram
Protein 1.4 grams
100 grams of cassava root also provides the following vitamins

Vitamin C

34% of RDI

Thiamine 7% of RDI
Folate 7% of RDI
Pyridoxine 7% of RDI
Riboflavin 4% of RDI
Niacin 5% of RDI
100 grams of cassava root also provides the following minerals
Magnesium 5% of RDI
Phosphorous 4% of RDI
Iron 3% of RDI
Zinc 3% of RDI

Does Cooking Affect  The Nutritional Value Of Cassava Roots?

Yes. Peeling, chopping and cooking cassava will bring down its nutritional value significantly. Yet, it is not at all safe to eat raw cassava as it has some poisonous properties.

Is Eating Cassava Safe During Pregnancy?

Eating cassava during pregnancy is safe only if consumed it,

  • After cooking well
  • In moderation
  • Once in a while

Over consumption and consuming under cooked cassava roots is extremely harmful during pregnancy

Is Eating Cassava Chips Safe During Pregnancy?

A chemical called Acrylamide is produced naturally while cooking starch-rich food at high temperatures (like frying).  Acrylamide is potentially harmful to unborn babies. Cassava chips fall under this group. You can have a bite occasionally if you crave for it. However, over-consumption and frequent consumption of any kind of chips should be avoided during pregnancy.

What Is The Safest Quantity Of Cassava Root To Consume During Pregnancy?

Moderation is the key. A recommended serving size of cassava root is about 1/3–1/2 cup at a time. It should be well cooked and you should eat it only once in a while.

Are The Products Made From Cassava Roots Safe During Pregnancy?

Sabudana and cassava flour are two important products made from cassava roots. Both are safe to use than the cooked cassava roots. This is because, during the process of making these products, most of the harmful chemicals are eliminated from the cassava root.

Does Cassava Increase The Chances Of Twins?

Yes, according to studies, intake of cassava root supplements when trying to conceive increases the chances of conceiving twins. It is found that after taking concentrated Cassava Supplements the odds of conceiving twins can raise up to 50%. Hyper ovulation property of this root vegetable is behind this occurrence.  Therefore, it is excellent to enhance the overall fertility as well.

What Are The Benefits Of Cassava Roots During Pregnancy?                  

  • High In Resistant Starch: Cassava root is high in resistant starch, which is highly beneficial for the metabolic health. It improves the insulin sensitivity and thereby helps to maintain blood sugar levels. It promotes the gut health as well.
  • Boosts Energy Levels: Being rich in carbohydrates, cassava roots helps to boost the energy level of the expecting mother.
  • Enhance The Eye Health Of Pregnant Women: It contains Vitamin A which is very beneficial for the eyesight of the expecting mother.
  • Enhance The Fetal Bone Formation: It is a source of essential minerals like calcium potassium magnesium and phosphorous. These minerals are vital for maintaining the bone health of mother and bone formation of the fetus.
  • Free From Gluten: Cassava roots are free from gluten and hence can be used by expecting mothers who are experiencing celiac disease.
  • Rich In Folic Acid: Folic acid is very important for a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby. Cassava roots are rich in folic acid and help to prevent neural tube defects in babies.
  • Rich In Vitamin C: Being rich in vitamin C, cassava is highly beneficial for the immunity during pregnancy.

What Are The Side Effects Of Cassava Root During Pregnancy?

  • Contains Anti-nutrients: This is the major drawback of this root vegetable. Anti-nutrients are compounds that may get in the way of digestion and hinder the absorption of vitamins and minerals in the body. This side effect becomes prevalent in those who do over, frequent, and sole consumption of cassava roots.
  • Chances Of Cynide Poisoning: Raw cassava contains chemicals called cyanogenic glycosides. This chemical is capable to release cyanide in the body. Therefore, over or regular consumption can result in cyanide poisoning which can bring about adverse symptoms and sometimes can turn deadly.
  • High In calories: Cassava roots are high in calories. In fact, its calorie level is very high when compared to other root vegetables. Intake of high-calorie foods is associated with weight gain and obesity.

How To Select And Store Cassava?

Cassava will be available year-round in Asian markets. Always ensure to buy fresh ones and to cook it within 10 days of purchase.

How To Select:

Select cassava roots that are

  • Fresh and firm
  • Have no blemishes or soft spots
  • Have no cuts or breaks in the skin
  • Have a nice smell
  • Appears snowy white center when cut open.
  • Avoid old stock

How To Store:

You can,

  • Store peeled cassava covered with water in the refrigerator up to four days.
  • Store whole cassava in a cool, dark place until one week.
  • While storing cut, fresh cassava in the refrigerator, always remember to change the water daily.

How Do You Know If Cassava Is Bad?

You can find it out from the smell and appearance itself. If the cassava roots have brown soft spots and a putrid smell and any signs of decaying or being rotten, never cook or buy those ones.

How To Safely Prepare Cassava For Consumption During Pregnancy?

  • Peel: Most of the cyanide-producing compounds presents in the outer skin of cassava roots. Therefore, peel its outer skin up to you see the inner white part.
  • Soak: After peeled, washed, and sliced, soak the cassava root overnight in salt water to bring down the concentration of harmful chemicals in it. You can even add turmeric, which is highly beneficial in eliminating the poisons if you don’t mind the cooked cassava roots looks yellowish.
  • Remove the core: it is recommended to remove the core of the cassava root before cooking.
  • Cook well: Make sure the cassava roots are well cooked before consuming. Boil well the cassava roots in salt water. This will help to evaporate the harmful chemicals from the cassava roots. Discard the water in which you boiled cassava roots. By this way, you can minimize it’s the presence of harmful chemicals.
  • Combine with protein: Proteins help our body to get rid of toxins. Cassava root has relatively small amounts of proteins. Therefore, eat a combo of cooked and mashed cassava roots with some protein food. It goes very well with fish and meat.
  • Do not solely rely on it: Never ever rely solely on this cooked root. You can have it with other varieties of foods or as a side dish.

How To Incorporate Cassava Into The Pregnancy Diet?

  • You can prepare cassava root dishes the same way as you prepare potato dishes. Cook it well and mash it and prepare stir-fries.
  • You can use it as a thickener while preparing vegetable soups.
  • You can make cutlets
  • You can make crackers and bread with cassava flour.

Even though beneficial, the risks posed by cassava roots prevail over its advantages. Therefore, cassava is not supposed to be a part of your pregnancy diet, even if you can eat well-cooked cassava roots in moderation once in a while during the gestation period.