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Top 5 Benefits of Cassava

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Among most people in the U.S., cassava could be called a fairly unfamiliar vegetable, but it’s viewed as an important staple in diets of millions of people around the world. Visually similar to sweet potatoes, this root vegetable has its own unique and beneficial set of nutrients, and several other advantages, as well, not always for food.

From a shrub with the botanical name Manihot esculenta, cassava is also known as yuca root (but not the same as yucca), or manioc. Apart from being a major food source, cassava has proven itself to be quite versatile.

As the Encyclopedia of Food Sciences and Nutrition1 notes, cassava roots are either “sweet,” containing less than 50 milligrams (mg) of potential hydrogen cyanide per kilogram (km), or “bitter,” with at least 250 mg of hydrogen cyanide per km of fresh root.

The sweet and bitter aspects are both significant, as the sweet variety is used for food, while the bitter type is used in industrial applications. Either way, the cyanide content, which is significant, is lowered during cooking or processing. This is important, especially when it comes to its use as a food (as I’ll discuss later).

Some claim that cassava originated in Portugal, with its earliest cultivation in Portugal and subsequent transport to Central Africa and eventual arrival in Asia and the South Pacific.2 According to Softschools3, Nigeria is the most prominent manufacturer of cassava, while Thailand is the leading exporter of cassava worldwide.4

Easy to grow in areas warm enough to avoid frost, cassava roots consist of four to eight individual tubers at the base of the stem, each around 12 inches long and roughly 2 or 3 inches wide. It’s propagated via stem cuttings. Beginning with the nutritional aspects and adding others, here are five of the top benefits of cassava.

1. Cassava has a wide array of nutrients — The content of the root itself is essentially pure carbohydrates, and in fact may be the highest-calorie tuber known, but it does have its benefits, especially in areas of the world where calories are at a premium. Another way to put it is that it has a wide variety of nutrients, but not a lot of any one thing.

The root may not have a lot of protein as vegetables go, but it has more than most cereals and pulses, with 2.5 percent of the DRI (dietary reference intake) in the same one-half-cup serving, and more protein than that of other tropical food sources, such as plantains, white potatoes or yams.

One cup of boiled cassava5 contains 330 calories, 78 grams of carbohydrates, 3 grams of protein and 4 grams each of fiber and sugar. You’ll also find B-complex vitamins contained in cassava including folate, thiamin, B2, B5 and B6, as well as iron, zinc, calcium, magnesium, potassium and manganese.

According to MedicalNewsToday,6 cassava is a source of resistant starch, which scientists say resistant starch may boost a person’s gut health by helping nurture beneficial gut bacteria. Resistant starch is beneficial because it feeds the friendly bacteria in your colon and turns them into important short-chain fatty acids.

It also improves your gut bacteria and, as a bonus, may lower your blood glucose levels. Resistant starches remain relatively unchanged as they pass through your digestive tract.

Another beneficial aspect of eating cassava is its fiber, which is broken down into short-chain fats to both balance and enhance your gut bacteria.7 Cassava also contains saponins to help lower inflammation.

2. Cassava: A crop that can feed the world — Cassava is one of the ancient foods that sustained generations of people who lived along the banks of the Amazon River in South America. In fact, not just the roots but the leaves of the cassava plant were consumed long before Columbus ever arrived.

Not much has changed; cassava is still recognized as an important food source for millions, as people in around 80 countries, from Nigeria to Cameroon to Togo, reportedly rely on cassava as a vital food source, which translates to bolstering the diets of about 800 million people, a 2012 study notes.8

In addition, it’s known as one of the most drought-resistant crops in the world,9 without much need for fertilizer.

3. Cassava is useful for manufacturing and livestock purposes — Cassava is used to feed animals on a gigantic scale, primarily in South America, the Caribbean and Europe. Its leaves are harvested when the plant is still young and sun-dried for a few days, then the hay is used to feed cows, buffalo, goats and sheep.10

“A Feasibility and Market for Cassava Industrialization in Uganda,” published in 2017, notes that cassava is also used to make fabrics, paper and building materials, including plywood, as well as for the production of ethanol for use as biofuel,11 with China and Brazil the most prominent manufacturers of cassava-based biofuel.

4. Cassava is extremely versatile — Published in 1988, a comprehensive book called “Cassava in Food, Feed and Industry”12 lists a number of different drinks and fermented foods that cassava is used in after being peeled, soaked, cubed, grated or “riced.” Cassava may also be roasted, boiled, steamed into a paste, dried, baked and crumbled.

Cassava is often mixed with other foods such as coconut and bananas to change its texture and flavor. As a carbohydrate, cassava can be mashed, made into chips or french fries, and used in dishes both sweet and savory, like the latter for a Cuban dish known as yuca con mojo, combining cassava with citrus juices, garlic, onion, cilantro, cumin and oregano.

5. Cassava is gluten-free — This means it doesn’t contain the protein gluten, like wheat, that can cause potentially serious adverse reactions. What does “gluten-free” mean in terms of food manufacturing?

In 2013, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a new definition for “gluten-free” for the purpose of food labeling, which stated a food must contain no more than 20 parts per million (ppm) of gluten to be labeled as gluten-free.13 As Medical News Today explains:

“An ingredient that has been derived from a gluten-containing grain can be labeled as ‘gluten-free’ if it has been processed to remove gluten and use of that ingredient results in the presence of less than 20 ppm of gluten in the food.”14

However, some foods are gluten-free naturally, and cassava is one of them. Interestingly, some are labeled “gluten-free” when it’s clear that cassava doesn’t contain gluten — and couldn’t.

Caveat Concerning Cassava Consumption: Don’t Eat It Raw

There’s a really big caveat to eating cassava: Avoid eating it raw, because it’s toxic in this form. One study15 notes that as a root crop, it accumulates two cyanogenic glucosides: linamarin and lotaustralin. It’s the linamarin, found in all parts of the cassava plant but primarily concentrated in the root and leaves, that produces the toxic compound hydrogen cyanide (HCN). As Mother Nature Network observes:

“When properly soaked and dried, and especially when people have protein in their diet, bitter cassava is OK; but when any of the process is skimped on, problems arise. Due to correct food processing and strict regulations, cyanide-laced cassava poses little threat to Americans who eat the root.

But, in Africa, where cassava has become a major part of subsistence diets, many poor people suffer from a chronic and crippling form of cyanide poisoning known as konzo.”16

Only soaking the cassava roots and leaves and cooking them at high temperature render the toxic compounds harmless. Otherwise, side effects can be serious and range from intoxication and extreme pain to nausea and death.17 Along with dangerously decreased levels of iodine comes an increased risk of developing goiter, a thyroid condition, all due to cyanide poisoning.18

If they happen to ingest raw cassava, children can experience irreversible paralysis in their legs, and the elderly can develop a condition known as tropical ataxic neuropathy (TAN), resulting in a loss or distortion of sensation in the hands and feet, weakness, poor vision and difficulty walking.19

How Tapioca Is Made

Tapioca is the starchy liquid extracted from the cassava root to make tapioca flour, the base for a uniquely sweet, delicious dessert in the form of pudding, and often used as a thickening agent.20 In comparing cassava root with tapioca, one cup of dry pearl tapioca contains 544 calories, 135 grams of carbohydrates and 5 grams of sugar.21

In most parts of the world, harvesting cassava roots is a manual process. About 70 percent of each root is water and 24 percent is starch, with 3 percent being fats, minerals and sugars, 2 percent fiber and 1 percent protein.22 Because they begin to degrade within 24 hours of being harvested, timely and thorough processing is recommended.

According to a book written in 2003, “The Encyclopedia of Food Sciences and Nutrition,” It’s a tedious process: First, dirt and debris are washed away from the roots, and then the tough skin peeled off.

To break the cell walls, roots are chopped into small chunks to feed into what is called a rasp disintegrator to dispose of the hydrogen cyanide, and the remaining pulp washed on screens to strain out the starches and retain the fiber, which is usually used either as fertilizer or cattle feed. The book adds:

“The starch slurry (also called starch milk), after screening, is put through a continuous centrifuge to separate the starch from fine fiber and soluble material. This can also be achieved by sedimentation.

Starch thus collected may be reslurried and put through a centrifugal purification process as desired. Typically, sulfur dioxide (0.05 percent) is added to water used in the centrifugation purification processes to prevent microbial growth.

Starch slurry from the purification process is dewatered by centrifugation or vacuum filtration and then dried by drum, belt, tunnel or flash methods. Flash-drying is most common. The final moisture content of the dried starch is in the range of 12 to 14 percent. Dried starch aggregates are pulverized to obtain a free-flowing powder.”23

Additionally, tapioca starch is sold in several forms, depending on what it will be used for, and the texture depends on such factors as the plant variety, where it was grown, its age, the amount of rainfall, fertility of the soil and the manufacturing processes implemented.

Clearly, cassava has made its mark on the world and continues to do so. In the future, cassava may have important potential for use in food and manufacturing processes worldwide. According to Medical News Today:

“Scientists may eventually be able to replace high-fructose corn syrup with cassava starch. Researchers are also hoping that cassava could be a source of the alcohol that manufacturers use to make polystyrene, PVC and other industrial products.”24

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Post-vaccine surge? Michigan’s spring coronavirus case spike close to previous year’s autumn high

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(Natural News) The spike in new Wuhan coronavirus infections recorded in Michigan over the spring is similar to a spike seen during the 2020 fall season. According to a Wall Street Journal analysis, the state’s daily coronavirus case count averaged more than 7,000 for almost two weeks – before taking a slight dip to 6,891 on April 20. This echoed similar figures back in November and December 2020, which saw sharp rises in infections for those two months before plunging.

Back in autumn of last year, Michigan averaged more than 7,000 cases per day for a span of 10 days. New infections dropped slightly, then briefly spiked as the December holidays approached. It then fell to the low 1,000s for the succeeding two months – until ascending again in March.

According to University of Michigan internal medicine professor Dr. Vikas Parekh, the sudden increase in new infections could be attributed to several factors. Among the factors he cited was re-openings, which increased people’s interactions and mobility. Parekh said the loosened restrictions contributed to the spread of the highly contagious U.K. B117 variant.

“As the B117 variant spreads nationally, we will likely see other stats [with] their own surges – although I hope none are as bad as Michigan,” the professor remarked. He continued: “The milestone just tells us we are not yet in the clear, especially as we still have large portions of our population who are not vaccinated yet.”

Parekh also expressed optimism over the lower daily caseloads the Great Lakes State reported. He said he believes both cases and hospitalizations have plateaued and will likely decline soon. The professor commented: “[COVID-19] positivity has been declining now for one week, which is usually a leading indicator of case decline.”

Meanwhile, the state cited younger populations and youth sports, such as basketball, wrestling and hockey, to increase new COVID-19 infections. Because of this, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer called to suspend youth sports and indoor dining in the state. She also exhorted high schools to conduct remote class sessions for two weeks to curb the spread of the pathogen.

Michigan still experienced the spike in cases despite having one of the highest vaccination rates in the country

During the opening stages of the U.S.’s immunization drive against COVID-19, Michigan boasted of having one of the highest vaccination rates nationwide. A report by Bridge Michigan even noted the initial “frenzy for vaccines” that “far exceeded the state’s limited supply.” But things have appeared to turn around for Michigan, as it now struggles to reach the 70 percent vaccination rate needed for herd immunity.

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Scottish mom’s legs turn into a pair of “giant blisters” after first dose of AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine

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(Natural News) Sarah Beuckmann of Glasgow, Scotland, felt a tingling sensation in her legs and noticed a rash flaring up around her ankles a week after getting her first dose of AstraZeneca’s coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine on March 18.

She also had flu-like symptoms right after the vaccination.

Beuckmann called her doctor to arrange an appointment the morning she noticed the rash, but by the afternoon her skin was already breaking out into blood-filled blisters. Blisters also appeared on her legs, hands, face, arms and bottom.

“I ended up asking my husband to take me to A&E,” said Beuckmann, referring to “accident and emergency,” the equivalent of an emergency room (ER). “When I got there, my heart rate was sitting at 160bpm, which they were very concerned about. I got put on an ECG machine.”

Doctors determine AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine triggers the rash

Medics carried out tests for HIV, herpes and other skin conditions to work out what triggered the rash, but all results came back negative. Doctors finally determined that the vaccine caused her rare reaction after carrying out two biopsies.

“Once they found that it was a reaction to the vaccine, they put me on steroids and that really seems to be helping my progress,” said Beuckmann. She had been advised by her doctor not to get the second dose of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine because of her reaction.

Beuckmann spent 16 days at Queen Elizabeth University Hospital. She was discharged to recover at home. The 34-year-old mother of one is currently wheelchair-bound due to the bandages on her legs and blisters on the soles of her feet. She may need physiotherapy to help strengthen her leg muscles.

“They are starting to heal and they’re looking a lot better than they were but as the blisters started to get worse, they all sort of merged together,” she said. “I didn’t know what was going on.”

With the blisters merging, her legs have looked like a pair of “giant blisters.” Beuckmann admitted that at one point she feared her legs might have to be amputated.

Dermatologist agrees COVID-19 vaccine causes the blisters

Dr. Emma Wedgeworth, a consultant dermatologist and spokeswoman at the British Skin Foundation, agreed that Beuckmann had likely suffered a reaction to the vaccine.

“Vaccines are designed to activate the immune system. Occasionally people will have quite dramatic activation of their immune systems which, as happened in this case, can manifest in their skin” Wedgeworth told MailOnline. “This poor lady had a very severe reaction, which thankfully is extremely rare.”

It is not clear why Beuckmann, who works in retail, was invited for a vaccine. Scotland’s vaccine rollout was focused on people over the age of 50 when she got vaccinated, although vaccines are available to those who are considered at risk from the virus, or live with someone considered vulnerable.

At least 20 million Briton have had AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine, which drug regulators say causes a rash in one percent of cases. They say rashes caused by the jab tend to go away within a week.

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Trojan labs? Chinese biotech company offers to build COVID testing labs in six states

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In 2012, BGI acquired Complete Genomics, a DNA sequencing company and equipment maker. The funds for the $117.6 million purchase were raised from Chinese venture capitals. The company has expanded its footprint globally. According to its website, BGI conducts business in more than 100 countries and areas and has 11 offices and labs in the U.S.

People are concerned about China’s access to American DNA data

Some said that with Complete Genomics providing an American base, BGI would have access to more DNA samples from Americans, helping it compile a huge database of genetic information. Some also worried about the protection of the genetic information’s privacy.

According to a 2019 report from the U.S.–China Economic and Security Review Commission (USCC), BGI “has formed numerous partnerships with U.S. healthcare providers and research organizations to provide large-scale genetic sequencing to support medical research efforts,”

There are three main reasons why many people in the biotech community and government have expressed concerns about China’s access to American DNA data.

In the “60 Minutes” interview, Evanina discussed the very likely scenario in which Chinese companies would be able to micro-target American individuals and offer customized preventative solutions based on their DNA.

Evanina asked: “Do we want to have another nation systematically eliminate our healthcare services? Are we okay with that as a nation?”

The second concern is that China may use DNA to track and attack American individuals. As the USCC report states: “China could target vulnerabilities in specific individuals brought to light by genomic data or health records. Individuals targeted in such attacks would likely be strategically identified persons, such as diplomats, politicians, high-ranking federal officials or military leadership.”

The third concern is that China may devise bioweapons to target non-Asians. Steven Mosher, president of the Population Research Institute, discussed it in his article “What Will China Do With Your DNA?” published by The Epoch Times in March 2019.

He wrote: “We know that the Asian genome is genetically distinct from the Caucasian and African in many ways. … Would it be possible to bioengineer a very virulent version of, say, smallpox, that was easily transmitted, fatal to other races, but to which the Chinese enjoyed a natural immunity? … Given our present ability to manipulate genomes, if such a bio-weapon can be imagined, it can probably – given enough time and resources – be realized.”

An article from Technocracy said: “China’s aggressive collection of American DNA should be doubly alarming because it can only spell one ultimate outcome: biowarfare. That is, genetically engineering viruses or other diseases that will be selectively harmful to U.S. populations.”

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