FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE | September 17, 2007

Three nutritional cheers for Dr. Ceballos’ new cassava

A food called yucca (YOU-ka) may sound like a great big “yukk!” to people in the United States. But yucca, or cassava (ca-SAH-va), is the most popular veggie for millions of people in Africa, Central America, China, and other countries. Cassava is their potato. Like potatoes, cassava can be fried to make French fries, boiled, or baked. Cassava also can be pounded into flour to make delicious breads and desserts.

In some countries, people eat cassava every day. It is their main source of energy-rich starch, or carbohydrate. Although very popular, cassava is not the most nutritious food.

That can be a big problem in poorer countries, where children must eat cassava or go hungry.

A new study in the American Chemical Society’s Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, a magazine for scientists, describes a discovery that could help make cassava dishes more nutritious.

Dr. Hernan Ceballos, a scientist at the International Center for Tropical Agriculture in Cali, Columbia, did the study. He discovered a new kind of cassava that is healthier to eat. People can digest more of the starch in this cassava, and that makes it more nutritious as a food. If Dr. Ceballos’ cassava catches on, it could mean better health for millions of people.

The American Chemical Society — the world’s largest scientific society — is a nonprofit organization chartered by the U.S. Congress and a global leader in providing access to chemistry-related research through its multiple databases, peer-reviewed journals and scientific conferences. Its main offices are in Washington, D.C., and Columbus, Ohio.