If you’re pregnant, you’re likely already aware of the many foods you should avoid to keep your growing baby safe and healthy.
But what about cassava flour?
This root vegetable is a staple in many countries around the world, and its flour is often used in gluten-free baking.
However, there are concerns about the safety of cassava during pregnancy.
Some sources warn that it could be poisonous if not cooked properly, while others suggest that it can negatively impact your baby’s thyroid.
So, is cassava flour safe to eat while pregnant?
In this article, we’ll explore the facts and myths surrounding cassava and its flour to help you make an informed decision.
Is Cassava Flour Safe During Pregnancy?
The short answer is yes, cassava flour is safe to eat during pregnancy.
While it’s true that cassava root contains cyanide, which can be harmful if not cooked properly, the process of turning cassava into flour removes most of the cyanide.
In fact, cassava flour is a good source of folate and vitamin C, two essential nutrients for pregnant women.
However, it’s important to note that cassava root, leaves, chips, and other products may still contain cyanide even after cooking. It’s recommended to consume cassava products in moderation and to ensure they are properly cooked before eating.
What Is Cassava Flour?
Cassava flour is a type of flour made from the cassava root, a starchy root vegetable that is commonly found in many countries around the world. The cassava root is first peeled, grated, and then dried to remove the moisture. The dried cassava is then ground into a fine powder, which can be used in a variety of recipes such as bread, pancakes, and cakes.
Cassava flour is a popular gluten-free alternative to wheat flour and is also known for its high fiber content. It’s also a good source of essential vitamins and minerals such as folate and vitamin C, making it an excellent choice for pregnant women.
While cassava flour is generally considered safe to eat during pregnancy, it’s important to consume it in moderation and to ensure that it’s properly cooked before eating. This will help to minimize any potential risks associated with consuming cassava products during pregnancy.
Nutritional Value Of Cassava Flour
Cassava flour is a nutrient-dense alternative to traditional wheat flour. It is a good source of carbohydrates, providing energy for both the mother and the growing baby. Additionally, cassava flour is rich in dietary fiber, which can help prevent constipation during pregnancy.
One of the most significant benefits of cassava flour for pregnant women is its high folate content. Folate is essential for fetal development, particularly in the early stages of pregnancy. A deficiency in folate can lead to neural tube defects and other birth defects. A cup of cassava flour contains about 40% of the recommended daily intake of folate.
Cassava flour is also a good source of vitamin C, which is important for immune function and collagen production. Collagen is necessary for healthy skin, bones, and connective tissues. Pregnant women need more vitamin C than non-pregnant women because it helps with iron absorption.
In addition to folate and vitamin C, cassava flour contains small amounts of other essential nutrients, including calcium, potassium, and magnesium. These minerals are important for maintaining healthy bones and muscles.
Potential Risks Of Cassava Flour During Pregnancy
While cassava flour is generally considered safe to eat during pregnancy, there are still potential risks associated with its consumption. One of the main concerns is the presence of antinutrients in cassava, which can reduce nutrient absorption and availability in the body. These antinutrients include phytate, nitrate, oxalate, polyphenols, and saponins.
Another risk is the possibility of iodine deficiency. Cassava can lower the amount of iodine absorbed by the body, which can be particularly harmful for pregnant women who already have low levels of iodine. Additionally, cassava consumption may reduce thyroid hormone levels in people with thyroid disease, especially those who need to use thyroid hormone replacement therapy.
It’s also important to note that cassava products may still contain cyanide even after cooking. While the process of turning cassava into flour removes most of the cyanide, it’s still recommended to consume cassava products in moderation and to ensure they are properly cooked before eating.
Lastly, cassava flour is high in calories compared to other root vegetables. Consuming high-calorie foods is associated with weight gain and obesity, which can increase the risk of pregnancy complications.
How To Safely Prepare Cassava Flour
To safely prepare cassava flour, it’s important to start with high-quality cassava root. Look for fresh, firm roots that are free from blemishes or soft spots.
Once you have your cassava root, you’ll need to peel it and remove the fibrous outer layer. Cut the root into small pieces and soak them in water for at least 24 hours. This soaking process helps to remove some of the cyanide from the cassava.
After soaking, drain the water and rinse the cassava thoroughly. Then, spread the pieces out on a clean towel or paper towel to dry. Once they are dry, you can grind them into flour using a food processor or blender.
It’s important to note that sweet cassava requires less processing compared to bitter cassava, which involves peeling, grating/cutting into small pieces, soaking, sun-drying, and cooking.
When using cassava flour in recipes, make sure to follow proper cooking instructions and avoid eating raw dough or batter. By taking these precautions, you can safely enjoy the benefits of cassava flour during pregnancy.
Benefits Of Cassava Flour During Pregnancy
Cassava flour is an excellent provider of essential nutrients for pregnant women. One cup of cassava flour contains enough folate and calcium to meet the daily needs of an adult. Folate is especially important during pregnancy as it helps prevent neural tube defects in babies. Vitamin C is also essential for a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby, and cassava flour is rich in this nutrient as well.
Moreover, cassava flour is high in resistant starch, which has several health benefits. Resistant starch feeds the beneficial bacteria in your gut, which can help reduce inflammation and promote digestive health. It has also been studied for its ability to improve metabolic health and reduce the risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes. These benefits are likely related to improved blood sugar management, increased feelings of fullness, and reduced appetite.