During my court attachment at the Cape Coast High Court, I noticed Bankyi Ampesi is sold in some joints. In the Gambia as well, cassava is part of their daily diet. I herein examine the science of Bankyi ampesi.
A recent study by Abdullah et al.(2022) found that Cassava root is mainly high in vitamin C, an important vitamin that acts as an antioxidant, supports collagen production, and enhances immunity, among other benefits. The National Health Institute (2021) also found that cassava is rich in copper, a mineral necessary for neurotransmitter synthesis, energy production, iron metabolism, and more.
Nutritional Profile of Cassava
Hussein et al.(2012) study found that Cassava contained the following: Protein 0.35-2.45%, ash (0.15-1.50%), fat (0.12-0.61%), fiber (0.01- 0.20%), carbohydrate (81.81-90.37%) and dry matter (81.792.69%).
According to https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/(2020), a 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving of cooked cassava root contains 191 calories. This means that 84% comes from carbs, while the rest comes from protein and fat. Additionally, one serving also provides some fiber and a few vitamins and minerals.
Cassava, resistant starch
The Healthy Home Economist (2016) also calls cassava-resistant starch “the healthiest starch for your gut:” What does this mean to our health? They had this to say:
“Resistant starch is a type of starch that does not break down (it literally “resists” digestion), instead of being absorbed as glucose like most starches. Instead, resistant starch travels through the small intestine to the colon where it is turned into beneficial, energy-boosting, inflammation-squashing, and short-chain fatty acids by intestinal bacteria. The main reason why resistant starch is so beneficial is that it feeds the friendly bacteria in your colon, turns them into important short-chain fatty acids, such as butyrate (known to help reduce inflammation), and is extremely helpful in cases of autoimmunity, IBS, colitis, and allergies.
The Authority Nutrition (2016) also explains:
Most of the carbohydrates in the cassava diet are starches. Starches are long chains of glucose that are found in grains, potatoes, and various foods. But not all of the starch we eat gets digested. Sometimes a small part of it passes through the digestive tract unchanged. In other words, it is resistant to digestion.
According to Topping et al, (2003), resistant starch can be very beneficial. As it feeds beneficial gut bacteria, it can reduce inflammation as well as harmful bacteria. It may also lower your blood glucose level after meals (Diabetes Care 2006), improve insulin sensitivity (Robertson et al. 2005), help manage metabolic syndrome (Bodinham et al., 2010), and possibly help you eat less(Raben et al.,1994).
Cassava, the Science
Digestive and colon health
One study by Marandola et al.(2004) found that Cassava may also, by a different mechanism, be protective against cancer because it contains a chemical called tamarin which is responsible for the production of hydrocyanide. This tamarin has been shown in vitro to cause the death of cancer cells by self-toxicity with hydrocyanide.
Another study by Tsumbu et al.(2011) found that Cassava Leaves, roots show promise against colon cancer. Irabor (2011) found that the low colon cancer in Nigeria could be due to the consumption of resistant starch foods.
Promotes Wound Healing
According to fdc.nal.usda.gov, Cassava is loaded with vitamin C, with 20% of the Daily Value in each 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving. Other studies found that cassava provides about 50% of the daily vitamin C needs for most adults.
Vitamin C plays a key role in many aspects of health, including immunity. Carr and Maggini(2017) study found that vitamin C can help protect against oxidative stress and support the function of immune cells in your body.
The processing affects the nutritional Profile
Another interesting thing is that the nutritional profile of cassava can be affected by processing such as peeling, chopping, and cooking. However, a study by Julie et al.(2009) found that though cooking affects the nutritional content, cooking cassava before consumption is important to avoid side effects.
Julie et al. (2009) additionally found that boiling cassava root still retains more nutrients, compared with other cooking methods like roasting or frying. The exception is vitamin C, which is sensitive to heat and easily leaches into the water.
This means that our traditional processing forms of cassava such as Tapioca, gari, and fufu are likely to reduce their nutritional value. Additionally, cooking is still a less processed technique to provide nutritional value.
Though Banki ampesi is cooked, Julie et al. (2009) found that boiling cassava root still retains more nutrients, compared with other cooking methods like roasting or frying. Also, more studies support eating cassava to reduce our risk of colon cancer. It is further enriched with high Potassium which reduces high blood pressure. Finally, assess your needs first and understand how your body responds to diet. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to diet.
Prof. Nyarkotey has strict sourcing guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations to justify his write-ups. My articles are for educational purposes and do not serve as Medical advice for Treatment. I aim to educate the public about evidence-based scientific Naturopathic Therapies.
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