Cassava vs. Potato — Health Impact and Nutrition Comparison
Potatoes are rich in minerals, vitamins, fiber, protein, have a lower GI, lower sugars, calories, and saturated fats than cassavas. On the other hand, cassavas contain 18 times more Vitamin E, calcium, zinc, carbs than potatoes.
Table of contents
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.
The potato plant belongs to the Solanaceae family, which 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.
Cassava is one of the most important food crops globally, 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 you can use them similarly. They can be boiled, baked, grilled, fried, made into chips, or just sprinkled with salt.
In this section, we will look into the specific difference between the nutrients of potato and cassava. At the bottom of this page, you can find nutrition infographics that visually show the differences between these plants.
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.
Both potatoes and cassavas are rich in vitamins but contain different amounts. Cassava contains 18 times more Vitamin E, five times more Vitamin A, more Vitamin B2 and Folate than potatoes. On the other hand, potatoes contain three times more Vitamin B6, two times more Vitamin B5, and more Vitamin B3.
Both have equal Vitamin C, Vitamin B1, and Vitamin K. These plants lack Vitamin D and Vitamin B12.
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.
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 .
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.
The number of calories of cassava is two times higher than that of potato. Cassava contains 160 calories per 100g, whereas potato contains only 77 calories per 100g.
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.
Cassava contains potassium, which is a vasodilator and may increase blood pressure (2). It should be noted that potatoes also contain potassium, but in clinical studies, their antihypertensive property has not been proven.
In addition, in three large cohorts of adult men and women, a higher intake of baked, boiled, or mashed potatoes and fries was independently associated with an increased risk of developing hypertension (3).
Both of these products may improve the blood lipid profile (4). According to the findings of this study, eating cooked potatoes (with skin) may increase antioxidant defense and improve lipid metabolism. These effects may be useful in the prevention of cardiovascular disease (5).
Research on potatoes and diabetes is inconclusive. For example, cooled cooked potatoes are better 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 increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. More research is needed .
Although cassava accounted for 84 percent of their caloric intake, none of the 1,381 subjects in the study had diabetes .
High in fiber, potatoes are the right choice if you are trying to lose weight. Potatoes can make you feel full for a more extended period, which 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 .
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 .
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, promoting fullness, and reducing appetite. However, it is essential to note that many processing methods may lower the resistant starch content of the product .
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 .
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 . 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 .
Fat Type Comparison
Comparison summary table
|Lower in Sugar|
|Lower in Sodium|
|Lower in Saturated Fat|
|Lower in Glycemic Index|
|Lower in Cholesterol||Equal|
|Lower in price||Equal|
|Rich in minerals||Equal|
|Rich in vitamins||Equal|
All nutrients comparison - raw data values
|Vitamin A RAE||1µg||0µg|
Which food is preferable for your diet?
|Low Fats diet|
|Low Carbs diet|
|Low Calories diet|
|Low Glycemic Index diet|
Vitamins & Minerals Daily Need Coverage Score
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.
- Cassava - https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/169985/nutrients
- 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.