Cassava is a root vegetable. It consists of the underground part of the cassava plant.
Cassava is a tuber crop and is similar in shape to a sweet potato. Cassava grows in many countries and is a staple in the diet of around 800 million people worldwide.
Manufacturers make cassava flour as follows:
- They grate the cassava into small pieces.
- Next, they dry out the grated cassava.
- Finally, they grind the dry, grated cassava until it forms a very fine powder.
Cassava flour features in a number of recipes. As cassava flour is gluten-free, people who avoid gluten can use it as a replacement for wheat flour in a variety of recipes. Many people consider it the most similar gluten-free alternative to wheat flour in terms of taste and texture.
Cassava flour versus tapioca flour
Cassava flour and tapioca flour both come from the cassava root. However, there are some key difference between the two:
- The part of the plant they come from: Cassava flour contains the whole root, while tapioca flour is made up only of the starchy part of the root.
- Fiber content: Cassava flour contains more dietary fiber than tapioca flour.
- Calories: Cassava flour has fewer calories per serving than tapioca flour.
- Their use in recipes: Both flours work similarly in recipes. However, due to the higher fiber content of cassava flour, it can be more effective as a thickener.
- Their taste: Cassava flour has a more noticeable taste — it has a nuttier flavor in comparison to more plain-tasting tapioca flour.Uses
Here are some of the ways a person can use cassava flour:
- In baking: To replace wheat flour in a number of recipes, including:
- In pasta: To make pasta dough.
- Thickening: To help thicken a sauce, gravy, or pie filling.
- Farofa: This is a Brazilian dish that involves toasted cassava flour and is similar to couscous.
- Flatbreads: Cassava flour is great for making flatbreads and tortillas that a person could toast or grill.
Cassava flour does absorb more liquid than wheat flour. Therefore, a person may need to use slightly less cassava flour than they would use regular wheat flour in a recipe.
Benefits of Cassava flour
Cassava flour contains carbohydrates, which are the main energy source for the body.
Cassava flour also contains resistant starch. These are starches that the small intestine does not digest.
Resistant starches work in a similar manner to dietary fiber. They pass from the small intestines into the colon where they begin to ferment.
Resistant starches promote gut health by fedding the beneficial gut bacteria as they ferment.
There are a number of possible health benefits to eating resistant starches in cassava flour, including:
Digestive and colon health
As the resistant starch in cassava flour ferments inside the colon, it feeds the healthy bacteria there. During this process, the starches turn into short-chain fatty acids.
One of these short-chain fatty acids is butyrate. Butyrate is an important component in the cells of the colon.
Butyrate can also reduce the levels of inflammation inside the colon. This can help protect a person against a variety of digestive issues, such as inflammatory colorectal cancer and ulcerative colitis.
One 2012 study showed that resistant starch can increase a person’s insulin sensitivity. Cassava flour is high in resistant starch.
During the study, males who were overweight or had obesity ate 15–30 grams (g) of resistant starch each day. These males then showed increased insulin sensitivity in comparison to males who did not eat these resistant starches.
By increasing a person’s insulin sensitivity, resistant starches can play a role in preventing disorders such as obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.
During the study, female participants did not show the same results. More research is necessary to determine why.