Yucca root, commonly known as cassava, is native to north, central and south america and a dietary staple in Americas and Caribbean. This gluten-free root vegetable is able to survive the winter months or dry months and regrown due to the nutrients stored in its tuberous stem, similar to potatoes and yams. Yucca is an absolute nutritional powerhouse and should be a dietary staple for all athletes and active people (with the exception of those following a ketogenic diet). The following are seven great reasons to include yucca in your nutrition arsenal.
1) Solid Source of Potassium
Potassium is crucial for optimal cellular function, maintaining lean muscle mass and keeping your energy levels up. If you eat a diet high in processed foods, your sodium intake will be too high and restoring an optimal sodium to potassium ratio is crucial for overall health. For active people and athletes, ensuring you get enough potassium in your diet is crucial for fighting off symptoms of weakness, muscular cramps, constipation and. irritability. Yucca provide almost 600mg per cup, so it makes a great pre- or post-workout option. If weight loss is your goal, keep your portions modest at around 1/3 to 1/2 cup.
2) Rich In B-Vitamins
Yucca is a good source of most all the B-vitamins(except B12) like thiamin, riboflavin, vitamin B6, folate that are essential for converting proteins, carbs and fats into energy. Regardless if you're trying to perform your best, lose weight or upgrade your health, B-vitamins play an important role.
3) Anti-Aging Resveratrol
Yucca root contains a significant amount of resveratrol, a natural anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant compound that protects your body from damage caused by free radicals (these are produced during exercise—like the exhaust that comes out of your car when you drive). Resveratrol is also a natural aromatase inhibitor, preventing the aromatization or conversion of testosterone to estrogen. If you're overweight, have significant belly-fat or high blood sugars, this is crucial to preserve your body's own testosterone stores.
4) Loaded With Vitamin C
One cup of yucca root packs a 42mg punch of vitamin C, crucial for collagen formation to keep your joints healthy and immune system strong.
5) Brain Boosting Choline
The hippocampus area of your brain is responsible for setting your circadian rhythms - your body's 24-hours hormone cycle - as well as converting short to long-term memory (something that fades when stress levels are high or choline intake low). Yucca provides a robust 24mg per half cup, and new research shows choline also plays a key role in building strength in the gym, another reason to dig into your yucca chips post-training.
6) Supports Innate Immunity
Your innate immune system is the body's "first line of defense" against incoming invaders. Fat-soluble vitamins, like the vitamin A found in yucca, is crucial for increasing the production of your immune system's "foot soldiers" that fight off colds and flu.
7) High In Relaxing Magnesium
Magnesium is essential for the production of ATP - your body's energy currency - along with the adrenaline you need to get through long days and intense training sessions. It's also important for supporting your nervous system, along with over 300 different reactions in the body.
Yucca root is a fantastic ancestral starch that provides a wealth of essential nutrients. When choosing your carbs for optimal mental or physical performance, yucca should be at the top of the list. It's also incredibly tasty... Try my favourite recipe is the Super-Duper Yucca Chips... delicious!
Dr. Marc Bubbs ND, CISSN CSCS