The legend behind why cassava makes us very sleepy (2024)

RADP / Pulse Uganda > Lifestyle > Food travel

Martha Kemigisha

Cassava is the third-largest energy source in the world and provides income and food to over a quarter billion people. It is also a powerful sleep-inducing food and legend has it literally has roots from a dead one-year-old baby girl that could talk as soon as she was born.

The legend behind why cassava makes us very sleepy (1)

The legend behind why cassava makes us very sleepy/Courtesy

On a typical Savannah day, blazing hot, dry and windy when most grass and plants are dried and many trees have shaded off their leaves, cassava leaves stand out in all their green glory. It manages to get by on marginal soils and weather conditions, where other crops fail.

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It is drought-resistant and is one of the very few crops favoured by climate change meaning its yields will increase as CO2 concentration in the atmosphere increases due to greenhouse gas emissions (GHG). That is why it can afford to be green when other crops are dry. It is these attributes have made cassava more appealing to poor farmers.

Despite these wonderful attributes, cassava is considered a poor person's food and was named among the most dangerous foods to eat.

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The danger lies in the chemicals called cyanogenic glycosides found in cassava roots and leaves. These chemicals can release cyanide in the body so it is important to cook cassava very well to avoid cyanide poisoning.

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Cassava roots are rich in carbohydrates, in fact, they give the third-highest yield of carbohydrates per unit area, only beaten by sugarcane and sugar beets. It is used for tiredness, and dehydration in people with diarrhoea, and sepsis, and to induce labour, but there is no good scientific evidence to support these uses.

Starch foods such as cassava, (rice, macaroni, and posho) are known to enhance the transfer of sleep-inducing chemicals in the brain. However, they are not advised for night meals because even though they induce sleep, they can make you toss and turn due to their bulky nature.

Legend has it...

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The legend behind why cassava makes us very sleepy (3)

The legend behind why cassava makes us very sleepy/Pexels Pulse

A long time ago in ancient times maybe some 8,000 to 10,000 years back, the King of the Tupí people of North Eastern Brazil, had a very beautiful daughter who became pregnant under mysterious circ*mstances. She delivered a baby girl.

Her name was Mani. Her skin was as white as milk. She began to talk as soon as she was born. As she grew older, she became even more beautiful; but when she was one year old, she suddenly got very sick and died, and was buried inside the king’s house.

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On the grave in which she was buried grew an unknown plant. When they dug up the plant, the roots had covered the whole of Mani’s grave and Mani’s body could not be found. The roots were as white as Mani’s skin and were delicious when they cooked it.

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A drink prepared from it could easily put one to sleep.

The King ordered that the stems be shared and grown. So, from that day on, the Tupí began using the root as their staple food and called it “mandioca”, which means “house or body of Maní”.

It is also used to make Tapioca pudding.

Martha Kemigisha Entertainment and Lifestyle writer with an objective, and sometimes subjective account of everyday life.

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The legend behind why cassava makes us very sleepy (2024)

FAQs

The legend behind why cassava makes us very sleepy? ›

It is used for tiredness, and dehydration in people with diarrhoea, and sepsis, and to induce labour, but there is no good scientific evidence to support these uses. Starch foods such as cassava, (rice, macaroni, and posho) are known to enhance the transfer of sleep-inducing chemicals in the brain.

What does cassava do to the brain? ›

Various animal studies on neurotoxicity due to cassava reported decreases in motor coordination and neurotransmitter changes, particularly dopaminergic changes in the brain (Mathangi et al., 1999; Mathangi and Namasivayam, 2000) .

What is the story of cassava? ›

Cassava originated from tropical America and was first introduced into Africa in the Congo basin by the Portuguese around 1558. Today, Cassava supports the livelihood of over 300 million Africans. It is rich in carbohydrates, calcium, vitamins B and C, and essential minerals.

What effect does cassava have on the body? ›

Cassava contains resistant starch, a type of carbohydrate that is not digested and acts similar to fiber in the body). It can therefore feed the beneficial bacteria in the gut and improve digestion. It can also be ingested to prevent conditions like constipation, gastritis or intestinal cancer.

What is the truth about cassava? ›

Cassava is a good source of dietary fibre as well as vitamin C, thiamin, folic acid, manganese, and potassium. The tubers have a mild nutty taste and are commonly eaten as root vegetables in stews or as side dishes. Food items such as the gelatinous fufu of West Africa and the bammy of Jamaica come from cassava.

Why does cassava make you sleepy? ›

Starch foods such as cassava, (rice, macaroni, and posho) are known to enhance the transfer of sleep-inducing chemicals in the brain. However, they are not advised for night meals because even though they induce sleep, they can make you toss and turn due to their bulky nature.

Is cassava good or bad for you? ›

It's a good source of calories, carbohydrates, and several vitamins and minerals, such as potassium and vitamin C. However, raw cassava contains toxic compounds, so it must be properly prepared and thoroughly cooked before consuming.

What is special about cassava? ›

Cassava is a type of root vegetable. It's considered a staple food in many countries thanks to its unique ability to withstand difficult growing conditions and relatively high calorie density. In addition to being versatile, it's a good source of resistant starch and vitamin C.

What are the warnings of cassava? ›

People should not eat cassava raw, because it contains naturally occurring forms of cyanide, which are toxic to ingest. Soaking and cooking cassava makes these compounds harmless. Eating raw or incorrectly prepared cassava can lead to severe side effects.

What are some fun facts about cassava? ›

Cassava Fun Facts

Cassava is also called manioc, manioke, tavioca, mendoka, and tapioca. The root is starchy and contains energy but is not as nutritious as taro, sweet potato, banana, or breadfruit. The root contains a chemical called hydrocyanic acid which is poisonous. Cassava should never be eaten raw.

What happens when you eat too much cassava? ›

It contains cyanide which may lead to acute toxicity or chronically may be an aetiological factor in tropical nutritional amblyopia, tropical neuropathy, endemic goitre, cretinism and tropical diabetes. It may also have carcinogenic potential.

Why do I feel sick after eating cassava? ›

Symptoms of cassava intoxication, cassava poisoning appear after eating cassava with symptoms such as headache, pain in limbs, abdominal pain,... The reason is that in cassava contains cyanhydric acid that causes poisoning and even poisoning. can even be fatal if tolerated in large quantities.

Is cassava good for arthritis? ›

Aid in preventing rheumatic illnesses

In order to reduce rheumatism, cassava provides more than a third of your daily magnesium needs in each serving. 150 grams of cassava leaves, some lemongrass, salt, and 15 grams of ginger root can be combined to create a natural rheumatoid arthritis treatment.

What diseases can cassava leaves? ›

Fungal diseases
Black root and stem rotScytalidium sp. Hendersonula toruloidea [syanamorph]
Blight leaf spotCercospora vicosae
Brown leaf spotCercosporidium henningsii Mycosphaerella henningsii [teleomorph]
Cassava ashOidium manihotis
12 more rows

Which is healthier, potato or cassava? ›

However edible varieties of cassava and potatoes grown for consumption are low on toxicity. Cassava is more healthier if you can eat the green leaves which are edible after blanching/boiling and straining and contain useful amounts of amino acids/proteins.

Can diabetics eat cassava? ›

One such disease is diabetes. For a long time now, cassava flour is believed to be good for diabetics. However, this is a misconception. According to a 2006 study, conducted by Akadiri Yessoufou and team, it was discovered that long-term consumption of cassava flour aggravated diabetes in rats.

Does cassava affect mental health? ›

Those in konzo villages additionally lagged in visual-spatial aptitude and in mental processing. These results suggest that even without physical manifestations from cassava toxins, some children suffer damage and the overall burden of cassava-related brain impact may have been underestimated.

What is the side effect of eating too much cassava? ›

Cassava that is prepared improperly can contain chemicals that are converted to cyanide in the body. This may cause cyanide poisoning and lead to certain paralysis conditions. This is especially true if eaten as part of a low-protein diet. In some people, eating cassava can cause an allergic reaction.

Why is it OK to eat cassava even though it contains cyanide? ›

Sweet cassava roots contain less than 50 mg per kilogram hydrogen cyanide on fresh weight basis, whereas that of the bitter variety may contain up to 400 mg per kilogram. Sweet cassava roots can generally be made safe to eat by peeling and thorough cooking.

How is cyanide removed from cassava? ›

Drying is the most ubiquitous processing operation in many tropical countries. Sun drying eliminates more cyanide than oven drying because of the prolonged contact time between linamarase and the glucosides in sun drying. Soaking followed by boiling is better than soaking or boiling alone in removing cyanide.

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