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Cassava vs Potato - Health impact and Nutrition Comparison

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Cassava
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Potato

Introduction

This article aims to answer the following question: which one is the best for your health - potato or cassava? We are going to compare these two products in terms of nutrition and health impact. Cassava and potato both are starchy and have similar tastes, but they differ in appearance and micronutrients.

Varieties

The potato plant belongs to the Solanaceae family, the Solanum genus. The Solanaceae family includes tomatoes, chili, and bell peppers. There are many different varieties of potatoes. The main species are Classic Russet and Bannock Russet potatoes.

Cassava, often called yuca or manioc, belongs to the family Euphorbiaceae and is native to South America. Cassava is a perennial plant, however, it is cultivated as an annual crop. Two of the most common Cassava species are “Sweet” Cassava and “Bitter” Cassava.

Uses

Cassava is one of the most important food crops in the world, providing quality carbohydrates in tropical regions where grains and potatoes grow poorly. On the other hand, the potato has become a staple crop in many countries. Cassava and potatoes are both starchy and can be used similarly. They can be boiled, baked, grilled, fried, made into chips, or just sprinkled with salt.

Nutrition

In this section, we will look into the specific difference between nutrients of potato and cassava. At the bottom of this page, you can find nutrition infographics that visually show the differences between these plants.

Micronutrients

Potatoes and cassavas have similar densities. Potato contains more water equal to 79%, whereas cassavas contain 60% water
Potatoes contain more fiber and protein than cassavas. On the other hand, the number of carbs and fats is higher in cassavas. The amount of cholesterol is equal.

Vitamins

Both potatoes and cassavas are rich in vitamins but contain different amounts. Cassava contains 18 times more Vitamin E, 5 times more Vitamin A, more Vitamin B2 and Folate than potatoes. On the other hand, potatoes contain 3 times more Vitamin B6, 2 times more Vitamin B5, and more Vitamin B3.

Both have equal levels of Vitamin C, Vitamin B1, and Vitamin K. These plants completely lack Vitamin D and Vitamin B12.

Minerals

In general, potatoes and cassavas are equal in several minerals. Cassavas contain more calcium and zinc than potatoes. On the other hand, potatoes are rich in iron, potassium, phosphorus and have less sodium. The amounts of magnesium, copper are equal in these plants.

Glycemic Index

Both products have high glycemic indexes. However, the GI of cassavas is a bit higher than that of potatoes. The estimated glycemic index of cassava is equal to 94, while the glycemic index of potatoes is equal to 86. The high glycemic index is connected with the starch content [1].

Acidity

On average, the acidities of cassavas and potatoes don’t differ much, however, potatoes are more alkaline than cassavas. Potato has a pH equal to 6.6, whereas cassava has a pH equal to 4.8.

Calories

The number of calories of cassava is 2 times higher than that of potato. Cassava contains 160 calories per 100g, whereas potato contains only 77 calories per 100g.

Carbohydrates

Cassava contains double the carbs of a potato. It has 38 g carbs, whereas potato has only 17g.
The amount of carbs of cassava makes it a valuable and relied-on food source for millions of native people.

Health Impact

Cardiovascular Health

Potatoes have a lower sodium content and contain more potassium and fiber than cassavas, therefore they can be a better choice for people with high blood pressure. Nevertheless, one study showed that a high intake of baked, boiled, or fried potatoes may increase the risk of hypertension, which is explained by a high glycemic load of potatoes [2]. According to the study, high levels of tHcy (total homocysteine) can increase the risk of cardiovascular problems. People with heart diseases should adjust the intake dose of cassavas [3]. 

Diabetes

Research on potatoes and diabetes is inconclusive. For example, cooled cooked potatoes are the better choice for people with diabetes because of their lower GI and GL compared with boiled or fried potatoes. Nevertheless, some studies suggest that potato consumption can lead to an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes. More research is needed [4]. According to the study, none of the 1,381 subjects had diabetes, even though cassava accounted for a full 84% of their caloric intake [5]. 

Weight Loss

High in fiber, potatoes are the right choice if you are trying to lose weight. Potatoes can make you feel full for a longer period. This reduces the need for constant snacking to suppress weight gain. Besides, potatoes have fewer calories than cassavas. So, potatoes can supplement a healthy diet, which can help you lose weight, but eating nothing but potatoes is unnecessary [6].

Good Gut Health

Both plants are a good source of resistant starch, which scientists can boost gut health by helping nurture beneficial gut bacteria. Resistant starches remain relatively unchanged as they pass through the digestive tract. Bacteria can convert this starch to the short-chain fatty acid butyrate, which has been linked to reduced inflammation in the colon, improved colon defenses, and a lower risk of colorectal cancer [7].

Other Health Benefits

Cassavas and potatoes are high in resistant starch. This starch has similar properties to soluble fiber. According to studies, consuming foods high in resistant starch may have several benefits for your health, such as improving blood sugar control, or promoting fullness, and reducing appetite. However, it is important to note that many processing methods may lower the resistant starch content of the product [8].

Side Effects

Toxicity

Both potatoes and cassavas may produce a toxic compound called solanine, a glycoalkaloid. These plants can produce solanine, especially when kept in sunlight or other unfavorable conditions. Solanine gives plants a bitter taste and a green color, including symptoms like diarrhea, vomiting, fever, and abdominal pains [9]. 

Allergy

People who have an allergy to latex may also have an allergy to cassavas. Commonly, symptoms can include hives and itchy skin, in some cases even anaphylaxis [10]. A potato allergy is very rare, however, it can affect people of any age. People can have an allergy to several specific compounds of potato;  patatin or saline. The symptoms usually include sneezing, runny nose, hives, and itchy skin [11].

Summary

Overall, potatoes are rich in several minerals, vitamins, fiber, protein, have a lower GI, fewer sugars, calories, and saturated fats than cassavas. On the other hand, cassavas contain 18 times more Vitamin E, more calcium, zinc, carbs than potatoes.

References

  1. https://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/diacare/suppl/2008/09/18/dc08-1239.DC1/TableA1_1.pdf
  2. https://www.bmj.com/content/bmj/353/bmj.i2351.full.pdf
  3. https://academic.oup.com/jn/article/135/10/2372/4669843
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4965517/
  5. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0140673687927978
  6. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11396693/
  7. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31765963/
  8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3823506/
  9. https://www.canr.msu.edu/news/solanine_poisoning_how_does_it_happen
  10. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18088025/
  11. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31606016/
Article author photo Elen Khachatrian
Profession: Nutrition & Microbiology at YSU
Last updated: May 26, 2021

Infographic

Cassava vs Potato infographic
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Mineral Comparison

Mineral comparison score is based on the number of minerals by which one or the other food is richer. The "coverage" chart below show how much of the daily needs can be covered by 300 grams of the food
:
6
Potato
Contains more Calcium +33.3%
Contains more Zinc +13.3%
Contains more Iron +200%
Contains more Potassium +56.8%
Contains more Phosphorus +111.1%
Contains less Sodium -57.1%
Equal in Magnesium - 23
Equal in Copper - 0.11
Iron Calcium Potassium Magnesium Copper Zinc Phosphorus Sodium 11% 5% 24% 15% 34% 10% 12% 2%
Iron Calcium Potassium Magnesium Copper Zinc Phosphorus Sodium 31% 4% 38% 17% 37% 9% 25% 1%
Contains more Calcium +33.3%
Contains more Zinc +13.3%
Contains more Iron +200%
Contains more Potassium +56.8%
Contains more Phosphorus +111.1%
Contains less Sodium -57.1%
Equal in Magnesium - 23
Equal in Copper - 0.11

Vitamin Comparison

Vitamin comparison score is based on the number of vitamins by which one or the other food is richer. The "coverage" chart below show how much of the daily needs can be covered by 300 grams of the food
:
4
Potato
Contains more Vitamin A +550%
Contains more Vitamin E +1800%
Contains more Vitamin B2 +50%
Contains more Folate +80%
Contains more Vitamin B3 +24.2%
Contains more Vitamin B5 +175.7%
Contains more Vitamin B6 +238.6%
Equal in Vitamin C - 19.7
Equal in Vitamin B1 - 0.081
Equal in Vitamin K - 2
Vitamin C Vitamin A Vitamin E Vitamin D Vitamin B1 Vitamin B2 Vitamin B3 Vitamin B5 Vitamin B6 Vitamin B12 Vitamin K Folate 69% 1% 4% 0% 22% 12% 17% 7% 21% 0% 5% 21%
Vitamin C Vitamin A Vitamin E Vitamin D Vitamin B1 Vitamin B2 Vitamin B3 Vitamin B5 Vitamin B6 Vitamin B12 Vitamin K Folate 66% 1% 1% 0% 21% 8% 20% 18% 69% 0% 5% 12%
Contains more Vitamin A +550%
Contains more Vitamin E +1800%
Contains more Vitamin B2 +50%
Contains more Folate +80%
Contains more Vitamin B3 +24.2%
Contains more Vitamin B5 +175.7%
Contains more Vitamin B6 +238.6%
Equal in Vitamin C - 19.7
Equal in Vitamin B1 - 0.081
Equal in Vitamin K - 2

Vitamin and Mineral Summary Scores

The summary score is calculated by summing up the daily values contained in 300 grams of the product. Obviously the more the food fulfills human daily needs, the more the summary score is.
Vitamin Summary Score
14
Cassava
18
Potato
Mineral Summary Score
14
Cassava
20
Potato

Macronutrients Comparison

Macronutrient comparison charts compare the amount of protein, total fats, and total carbohydrates in 300 grams of the food. The displayed values show how much of the daily needs can be covered by 300 grams of food.
Protein
8%
Cassava
12%
Potato
Carbohydrates
38%
Cassava
17%
Potato
Fats
1%
Cassava
0%
Potato

Comparison summary table

Pay attention to the most right column. It shows the amounts side by side, making it easier to realize the amount of difference.
Cassava Potato
Lower in Sugar ok
Lower in Sodium ok
Lower in Saturated Fat ok
Lower in glycemic index ok
Lower in Cholesterol Equal
Lower in price Equal
Rich in minerals Equal
Rich in vitamins Equal

Which food is preferable for your diet?

ok
ok
is better in case of low diet
Cassava Potato
Low Calories diet ok
Low Fats diet ok
Low Carbs diet ok
Low glycemic index diet ok

People also compare

Comparison summary

Which food is lower in Sugar?
Potato
Potato is lower in Sugar (difference - 0.88g)
Which food contains less Sodium?
Potato
Potato contains less Sodium (difference - 8mg)
Which food is lower in Saturated Fat?
Potato
Potato is lower in Saturated Fat (difference - 0.049g)
Which food is lower in glycemic index?
Potato
Potato is lower in glycemic index (difference - 8)
Which food contains less Cholesterol?
?
The foods are relatively equal in Cholesterol (0 mg)
Which food is cheaper?
?
The foods are relatively equal in price ($0.2)
Which food is richer in minerals?
?
It cannot be stated which food is richer in vitamins. See the charts below for detailed information. See the charts below for detailed information. See the charts below for detailed information.
Which food is richer in vitamins?
?
It cannot be stated which food is richer in vitamins. See the charts below for detailed information. See the charts below for detailed information. See the charts below for detailed information.

All nutrients comparison - raw data values

Nutrient Cassava Potato Opinion
Calories 160 77 Cassava
Protein 1.36 2.05 Potato
Fats 0.28 0.09 Cassava
Vitamin C 20.6 19.7 Cassava
Carbs 38.06 17.49 Cassava
Cholesterol 0 0
Vitamin D 0 0
Iron 0.27 0.81 Potato
Calcium 16 12 Cassava
Potassium 271 425 Potato
Magnesium 21 23 Potato
Sugar 1.7 0.82 Potato
Fiber 1.8 2.1 Potato
Copper 0.1 0.11 Potato
Zinc 0.34 0.3 Cassava
Starch 15.29 Potato
Phosphorus 27 57 Potato
Sodium 14 6 Potato
Vitamin A 13 2 Cassava
Vitamin E 0.19 0.01 Cassava
Vitamin D 0 0
Vitamin B1 0.087 0.081 Cassava
Vitamin B2 0.048 0.032 Cassava
Vitamin B3 0.854 1.061 Potato
Vitamin B5 0.107 0.295 Potato
Vitamin B6 0.088 0.298 Potato
Vitamin B12 0 0
Vitamin K 1.9 2 Potato
Folate 27 15 Cassava
Trans Fat 0 0
Saturated Fat 0.074 0.025 Potato
Monounsaturated Fat 0.075 0.002 Cassava
Polyunsaturated fat 0.048 0.042 Cassava
Tryptophan 0.019 0.021 Potato
Threonine 0.028 0.067 Potato
Isoleucine 0.027 0.066 Potato
Leucine 0.039 0.098 Potato
Lysine 0.044 0.107 Potato
Methionine 0.011 0.032 Potato
Phenylalanine 0.026 0.081 Potato
Valine 0.035 0.103 Potato
Histidine 0.02 0.035 Potato
Fructose 0.26 Potato

References

The source of all the nutrient values on the page (excluding the main article the sources for which are presented separately if present) is the USDA's FoodCentral. The exact links to the foods presented on this page can be found below.

  1. Cassava - https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/169985/nutrients
  2. Potato - https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/170026/nutrients

All the Daily Values are presented for males aged 31-50, for 2000 calorie diets.

Data provided by FoodStruct.com should be considered and used as information only. Please consult your physician before beginning any diet.