Yuca, pronounced Yoo-ka, is a starchy tuberous root also commonly known as cassava. However, yuca is not the same thing as yucca. I see many recipes and articles interchanging the two. Yucca is a shrub with white flowers that grows in dry climates.
Yuca is a tubular root vegetable like a potato. It grows in the ground and averages 6-12 inches long and 2-4 inches in diameter. It has a thick rough brown skin and a white starchy flesh on the inside.
Now you’re probably thinking, but what does yuca taste like? It tastes similar to a potato but lighter with a mild, slightly sweet, almost nutty flavor. Yuca can be boiled, mashed or fried to make yuca fries! (My favorite)
Is Yuca Healthy?
Yes, yuca is a healthy option that when added to your diet can add nutritional benefits. Yuca contains vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that provide many health benefits. The first benefit is choline. Yuca contains choline which is an important nutrient for helping the body manage brain and nerve functions. Choline keeps your metabolism functioning efficiently. It also plays a role in keeping your cells and DNA healthy.
Yuca contains potassium which helps with regulating your heart beat, kidneys, and muscle contractions. It’s also an excellent source of vitamin C. Vitamin C helps boost your immune system and heal from injuries while helping your blood vessels and muscles. For more information see Webmd.
Helps to Lower Risk of Cancer
Yuca contains antioxidants like beta-carotene. Another antioxidant found in yuca is saponin. These antioxidants have been shown to fight free radicals which can cause damage to your cells and lead to cancer.
Digestive Health Benefits
Yuca is an excellent source of resistant starch. Resistant starch works like soluble dietary fiber. The starch found in yuca helps feed the good bacteria that lives in your intestines, which in turn helps your digestive system function better. An added benefit is it can help you feel more full. When you feel more full you will eat less which can help prevent weight gain.
Eating moderate amounts of yuca may help people who are watching their blood sugar levels and managing their insulin. The resistant starch reduces insulin spikes after eating which controls blood glucose levels.
Is Yuca Safe to Eat?
Yes, yuca is safe to eat. Cooked yuca is absolutely safe to eat. However, do not eat raw yuca. The bitter variety contains cyanide which when eaten raw and could result in unwanted toxins. However, the yuca sold in the United States is the sweet variety. Always peel and cook it first and treat it just like a potato.
How Do You Eat Yuca?
Let’s start with peeling yuca first. Do not try to peel it like a potato. It will take forever and leave your hands exhausted.
First, using a large sharp knife cut the yuca into segments about 3-4 inches long. Score the brown skin just deep enough to get inside of it. Work the edge of the knife under the skin and peel around the yuca to separate the skin from the flesh. Once peeled, cut it in half and remove the center that looks like a stem running through it. Look here for step by step picture instructions.
If you are looking for an easier alternative you can always buy frozen yuca in the grocery store. If you can’t find it in your local store check out any latin supermarket.
Yuca can be enjoyed in many different ways. The most common is to boil yuca and eat it with a garlic mojo sauce. However, it can also be mashed like mashed potatoes. It can be cut into sticks and fried like french fries (again, my favorite). It can be roasted in the oven too. Add it or replace it with any recipe calling for potatoes like in soups or stews.
Is Yuca Keto?
No, yuca is not keto. According to the USDA one cup of yuca contains 78 grams of carbohydrates and only 0.6 grams of fat. If eaten while in ketosis yuca would surely kick you out.
With so many options I hope you find a way to incorporate yuca into your recipes or try it with my garlic mojo recipe today.
Noelle fell in love with Cuban food at first bite. She has been cooking, learning and crafting Cuban food for over 25 years. She was taught by her Cuban husband’s mami and abuela. They taught her everything using the “by eye” method. She took those “by eye” recipes and turned them into measured recipes. This website is where Noelle shares her love of Cuban food with the world.