Cassava is popular in many Latin and Caribbean cuisines. It’s versatile for cooking and may even come in different forms, like a flour, starch, or pearls.
The confusion with cassava and keto is that cassava is considered a vegetable, and most individuals are told that vegetables are ok to eat on a ketogenic diet. However, not all vegetables are created equal. So is cassava or cassava flour keto friendly?
Cassava and its flour form have too many carbohydrates for a keto diet, which may prevent or kick you out of ketosis. Cassava is a vegetable similar to yucca and has 75 grams of net carbs for a one-cup raw serving and over 100 grams in the same one-cup of cassava flour.
In this article, I’ll briefly discuss cassava, the differences between cassava, yucca, and tapioca, the health benefits of cassava and some keto friendly alternatives you might want to consider.
Can You Have Cassava On Keto?Unfortunately, with cassava, it’s too high in carbohydrates to include in your ketogenic diet if staying in ketosis is a priority to you.
Cassava is primarily a starch based root, similar to that of plantains, potatoes and sweet potatoes, which aren’t keto-friendly either. Both vegetables contain a bulk of their calories from carbohydrates, with cassava having even more calories and carbs than plantains and potatoes.
Most individuals following a standard ketogenic diet should avoid cassava and cassava flour as it contains too many carbohydrates that will prevent you from achieving and maintaining a state of ketosis.
However, there is one subset of ketogenic dieters that may benefit from including cassava in their diet, and those would be sport and physique athletes who cycle in carbohydrates.
Or anyone who may decide to carb-up every once in a while for whatever reason.
For those that are following a cyclical ketogenic diet or protein sparing modified fast, including cassava on your carb-up days would be a great option since they are high in carbohydrates, but have low to no fat depending on the cooking method.
What About Cassava And Resistant Starch For Keto?
Resistant starch is an often highly debated topic.Resistant starch functions similar to fiber because it passes through your digestive tract unchanged, it’s “resistant” to digestion.
And most people don’t count dietary fiber as part of their carb count for the day because they aren’t considered net carbs.
This may be where the confusion is for some people. You may have been told that you can eat resistant starches on a ketogenic diet, in which cassava has a great deal of.
How much of the starch in cassava is resistant starch is anyone's guess, but it’s probably not great enough to outweigh the amount of digestible carbohydrates.
It’s not worth the risk.
For the athletes
If you’re looking for a performance product that is completely made of resistant starch, I’d recommend you give Generation UCANN Superstarch a try.
Many athletes, especially endurance athletes have seen performance benefits from using this superstarch without spiking their blood sugar and even staying in ketosis doing so.
How Many Carbs Are In Cassava And Cassava Flour?
One cup of raw cassava (206g) has 78.4 grams of total carbohydrates and 3.7 grams of dietary fiber, leaving 74.7 grams of net carbohydrates for a small amount. 1
For the amount of carbohydrates in such a small serving size, cassava wouldn’t be considered keto-friendly at all, even to me.
In the same one cup (285g) for cassava flour, you’d be getting 108 grams of total carbohydrates with 5.1 grams coming from dietary fiber, leaving 102.9 grams of net carbohydrates. 2
Cassava Vs. Yucca Vs. Tapioca
Tapioca flour is often swapped evenly for cassava flour in many recipes. While both of them are similar, they are structurally different flours.
Both cassava flour and tapioca flour come from the cassava root, but cassava flour uses the whole root while tapioca flour only uses the extracted starch from the cassava root.With yucca, cassava and yucca share many similarities, but again are not the same. While tapioca comes from cassava, yucca is an entirely different plant altogether.
Many people use cassava and yucca interchangeably since they share similar taste and texture, and some countries may refer to cassava and yuca, but they are not the same. Cassava is also referred to as manioc or Brazilian arrowroot in countries such as the United States.
Yucca is also not keto friendly just in case you were wondering 😉
Many people often find cassava root or cassava flour because it’s used in baking and cooking in a lot of products made for people with celiac or have a gluten sensitivity. It’s also often used as a flour for those with a nut allergy and refrain from things like almond flour, which is another popular gluten-free alternative.
Keto Friendly Alternatives To Cassava
Many people interested in cassava are looking for a low-carb flour substitute. Sorry to disappoint you, but just to reiterate, cassava flour and tapioca flour are both not keto-friendly.
However, here is a list of some flours that are keto-friendly that you may want to consider.
One of the most popular flour alternatives, they make almond flour using finely ground and balanced almonds with the skins removed.
Similar to almond flour, almond meal is coarser since they keep the almond skins on. You can easily make your own almond meal by blending almonds until you reach your desired consistency.
Coconut flour is also another great keto-friendly alternative, the difference being it requires more moisture to make it work in place of regular flour. For example, if you were to use 2 eggs in a recipe, you may need 3 eggs or a quarter cup more of oil.
Flax meal is what almond meal is to almonds, it’s ground flaxseeds. People also use flax meal to replace eggs in some recipes by using 1 tbsp of ground flax with 3 tbsp of water and allowing it to swell.
Sunflower seed flour
If you have an allergy to coconut or almond, sunflower seed flour can be a great alternative. The only downsides to sunflower seed may be the cost and availability as it’s rather costly and hard to find.
Hazelnut and pecan flour
Hazelnut and pecan flour are two of my favorite low-carb flour alternatives. Similar to sunflower seed flour though, they are relatively more expensive and harder to find than almond flour.
And while not exactly flours, the below items are great to use as thickeners on a ketogenic diet.
Psyllium husk is a great source of dietary fiber and can thicken recipes like soups and smoothies that would have used flour to do so. Products like Metamucil are keto friendly and are a source of psyllium.
Xanthan gum is a thickening agent where a little goes a long way. You only need about 1/8 teaspoon per cup of liquid.
I like to use xanthan gum to thicken gravies and sauces when I feel like getting fancy in the kitchen.
I do not consider cassava and cassava flour keto-friendly since they are primarily a carbohydrate, high in carbohydrates at that.
The only people I would recommend use cassava while following a ketogenic diet are sport and physique athletes who may decide to utilize a cyclical ketogenic diet.
For 99% of others, I would recommend you stay away from cassava if achieving and maintaining ketosis is a priority.