Why Eating Too Much Cassava is Deadly

Date: 2024-01-06
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 Cyanogenic glycosides are naturally occurring substances found in several plants including cassava. When consumed, these glycosides can release hydrogen cyanide(HCN), a highly toxic compound. The effect of cyanogenic glycosides in cassava on human beings depends on the amount frequency of consumption, as well as the processing method used to detoxify the plant.

In small amounts, cyanogenic glycosides in cassava may not cause immediate harm. However, chronic exposure to low levels of HCN can lead to several health issues, including neurological disorders, goitre, and tropical ataxic neuropathy. Prolonged consumption of high-cyanide cassava may also result in a condition called konzo which causes irreversible paralysis.

Studies have shown that the risk associated with cyanogenic glycosides can be minimized. Traditional cassava processing methods are often employed. This method involves soaking, fermenting, sun drying, or boiling the cassava before consumption.
These practices help detoxify the plant and reduce the amount of cyanide. However, improper processing techniques can still leave a residual amount of cyanide, posing a potential health risk.

Summary
Cassava contains cyanogenic glycosides which can release hydrogen cyanide when consumed. The impact on human health depends on the amount and frequency of consumption, as well as the processing method used. Chronic exposure can cause several health issues, including neurological disorders and irreversible paralysis. Traditional cassava processing methods can help detoxify the plant, but residual amounts of cyanide can still pose health risks if processed improperly.

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