Yucca Root: What is it?
Yucca root or Yucca schidigera is a plant in the lily family which has multiple medicinal and commercial uses. In North America, this root vegetable grows mostly in Mexico and in the Southwest United States.3 It is also native to parts of Africa, Asia and South America under the name Cassava, and in fact has been a staple part of the diet of the people in these regions for hundreds of years.11
What is Yucca Root Used For?
Yucca is sold in a few different forms: as a dried Yucca root powder or as a condensed extract as well as in tablet form as a Yucca supplement.10,4 As a food source, Yucca is a high-yield crop which is easy to produce because it is able to grow even in harsh environments. For this reason it is able to stave off famine in many regions of the world. It has a very high nutritional value, and most of the plant can be consumed including the leaves. The stems are used to make products in the paper goods industry and are also assembled into firewood.11
Yucca is an excellent source of saponins, which are natural detergents and foaming substances. These foaming agents are used in soft drinks, cosmetics, emulsions for photographic films, mining and to initiate crop growth and control fungus in farming.3
Is Yucca good for you? When it’s cooked, this plant is a healthy food choice and an important staple for people in many parts of the world. Here are some key Yucca nutrition facts about one cup of raw Yucca flour:6
- It contains approximately 330 calories.
- It’s very high in carbohydrates.
- Boiled, it has enough vitamin C to approach our daily required amount (71%).
- It is loaded with vitamins B1, B2, B3, and B6, magnesium, potassium, and copper.
- It’s made up of 4 grams of dietary fibre.
- It contains 3 grams of protein, 3.5 grams of sugar and half a gram of fat.
- It has 29 milligrams of sodium.
- It has 558 milligrams of potassium, which is 12% of the recommended daily intake for adults.
- It’s made up of 56 micrograms of folate, which is 11-14% of the recommended daily intake.
- It contains no grain, nuts, or gluten, making it an ideal food for people with allergies or celiac disease.12
While Yucca root is nutritious, it does not contain every nutrient that you need to stay healthy and feel great. Many men also choose to fill any nutritional gaps with multivitamins and natural testosterone boosters.
What Does Yucca Taste Like?
Yucca is a sweet root vegetable that tastes just like Tapioca Pudding – because that’s what it is; Tapioca. North Americans have invented this sweet dessert made with the liquid extract from Yucca root, and in Asia they have invented a delicious cold drink called Bubble Tea.11 Sweet Yucca flour is frequently added to flour with less nutritional value, such as almond meal, in order to increase its benefit. It’s also used to thicken stews, soups and dough and to give them a slightly sweet taste.11
Yucca Root Benefits
The Yucca health benefits include anti-inflammatory properties which make it an ideal treatment and preventative tool for arthritis.4 Yucca also contains the anti-oxidant resveratrol, which protects the body from damage during the oxidation process. Research by Bingham supports the conclusion that Yucca is an excellent tool for the treatment and prevention of arthritis. He found that patients who were given Yucca tablets experiences significantly less pain and swelling compared to other treatments.1,2
Yucca is high in resistant starch, and for that reason the medical establishment believes that it lowers blood sugar after eating food, improves sensitivity to insulin and treats metabolic syndrome. Additionally this food is very filling, so it can help you lose weight by curbing your appetite. This makes Yucca an ideal food for people with diabetes.11
Yucca is extremely beneficial to the digestive process. Once in the colon, it is converted into short-chain fatty acids which reduce inflammation, ease allergies and help to treat digestive ills and auto-immune diseases. It is an ideal food for individuals who suffer from digestive illnesses like Crohn’s Disease and Irritable Bowel Syndrome, and it can also help treat simple constipation.11
Research carried out by Kim, et al in 2003 concluded that Yucca is effective for lowering cholesterol levels. Based on these results the researchers suggested the development of a novel cholesterol medication using Yucca root.7
Yucca Root Side Effects
Cooking Yucca root is essential, because uncooked it is toxic and eating it can lead to serious illness and even death. Raw yucca is high in hydrocyanic acid, so it would bombard your system with poisonous cyanide which would either kill you or leave you with no nerve and thyroid function, paralysis or organ damage.8
Consuming cooked Yucca every day may lead to digestive discomfort, stomach upset, nausea or throwing up. It’s preferable to take at least a couple of days off each week eating Yucca to lower the risk of this happening.12 If you consume too much Yucca root, there’s a slight risk that you will develop a condition called hemolysis where the red blood cells in your body burst. It’s caused by an excess of saponins in the body.12
How to Cook Yucca Root
Yucca is easy to cook and its incredibly versatile. The first step is peeling off the outer skin. The easiest way to do this is to cut the Yucca into pieces and then remove the skin off each section with a sharp knife. In terms of cooking, it’s easiest to look at the Yucca as a yam or a potato and proceed the same way. Put the peeled root in salted water, bring it to a boil, leave it on the stove to cook on low heat for about 20 minutes and then drain it. For fried Yucca, take the boiled portions and fry them at 350 degrees until they’re golden delicious.5
There are literally hundreds of yucca root recipes on the Internet. Now that you know how to work with this delicious root vegetable, go try as many as you can and see how easy it is to incorporate Yucca into your diet!
- 1Bingham R, Harris DH, Laga T. Yucca (1978) Plant saponin in the treatment of hypertension and hypercholesterolemia. J Appl Nutr., 30:127–136.
- 2Bingham R. New and effective approaches to the prevention and treatment of arthritis (1976). J Appl Nutr., 28:38–47.
- 3Cheeke, P.R.; R. Otero (2005). Yucca, quillaja may have role in animal nutrition. (Nutrition and Health/Beef).” Feedstuffs. Miller Publishing Co. Retrieved from https://www.highbeam.com/doc/1G1-127870007.html
- 4Cheeke, P., Piacente, S., & Oleszek, W. (2006). Anti-inflammatory and anti-arthritic effects of yucca schidigera: A review. Journal of Inflammation (London, England), 3, 6. Retrieved online at http://doi.org/10.1186/1476-9255-3-6
- 5Colon-Singh, Rose (August 13, 2016). How to Cook Yuca: A Beginner’s Guide. Fine Dining Lovers Food Blog. Retrieved online at https://www.finedininglovers.com/blog/food-drinks/how-to-cook-yuca/
- 6Dannie, Marie (Oct 3, 2017). Yucca Root Nutrition. Livestrong. Retrieved online at https://www.livestrong.com/article/341685-yucca-root-nutrition/
- 7Kim S-W, Park S-K, Kang S-I, Kang H-C, Oh H-J, Bae C-Y, Bae D-H. (2003) Hypocholesterolemic property of Yucca schidigera and Quillaja saponaria extracts in human body. Arch Pharm Res., 26:1042–1046. Retrieved online at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14723338
- 8Elliot, Briana (March 24, 2017). Cassava: Benefits and Dangers. Healthline.
- 9Sang-Woo Kim, Sang-Kyu Park, Sung-Il Kang, Han-Chul Kang, Han-Jin Oh, Chul-Young Bae, Dong-Ho Bae (Dec 2003). Hypocholesterolemic property of Yucca schidigera and Quillaja saponaria extracts in human body. Arch Pharm Res., 26(12): 1042–1046. Retrieved online at https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2FBF02994756
- 10Piacente, S., Pizza, C. & Oleszek, W. (2005). Phytochem Rev, 4: 177. Retrieved online at https://doi.org/10.1007/s11101-005-1234-5
- 11Yaneff, Jon (June 2017). Cassava: Facts, Nutrition, Health Benefits, Precautions, and How to Use. Doctors Health Press. Retrieved online at https://www.doctorshealthpress.com/food-and-nutrition-articles/cassava-nutrition-health-benefits/
- 12Your Health Remedy Staff. Yucca (Cassava) Root – Nutrition Facts, Uses, Health Benefits, Side Effects. Your Health Remedy. Retrieved online at https://www.yourhealthremedy.com/medicinal-plants/yucca-root-health-benefits/