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Does Nyambeh Nyebbeh dish lower risk of belly fat, obesity?



One interesting thing I, as a medical writer and Professor of Naturopa­thy, found in Gambian cuisines is that cassava is mostly consumed or possibly high­ly revered. Most Gambian dishes have cassava as their base ingredi­ent. One interesting diet I chanced on is Nyambeh Nyebbeh; which literally means cassava and beans and is mostly eaten as dinner.

In preparing this food, one needs three different pots: one for the cassa­va, another for the beans, and the other for the stew. In this article, my focus is on the first pot as the main ingredient; cassava and beans. What is the scientific justification for eating this food? I explore in this article the health benefits of eating Nyambeh Nyebbeh.


Nutritional profile of cassava

The fact is that traditionally made Gambian Nyambeh Nyebbeh can have cassava levels as high as 90%. What do you get from eating the cassava in Nyambeh Nyebbeh? One study answered this question: Hussein et al.(2012) found that Cassava contained the following: Protein 0.35-2.45%, ash (0.15-1.50%), fat (0.12-0.61%), fiber (0.01- 0.20%), carbohydrate (81.81-90.37%) and dry matter (81.792.69%).

According to https://fdc.nal., a 3.5-ounce (100- gram) serving of cooked cassava root contains 191 calories. This means that 84% comes from carbs, while the rest comes from protein and fat. Additionally, one serving also provides some fiber and a few vitamins and minerals.

I provide a summary of the following nutrients present in 3.5 ounces (100 grams) of cooked cassava according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (2020):

330 calories

78.4 grams of carbohydrates

2.8 grams of protein

0.6 gram fat

3.7 grams fiber

42.4 milligrams vitamin C (71 percent Daily Value)

0.8 milligram manganese (40 percent DV)

558 milligrams potassium (16 percent DV)

55.6 micrograms folate (14 percent DV)

0.2 milligram thiamine (12 percent DV)

43.3 milligrams magnesium (11 percent DV)

0.2 milligram copper (10 percent DV)

1.8 milligrams niacin (9 percent DV)

0.2 milligram vitamin B6 (9 percent DV)

0.1 milligram riboflavin (6 percent DV)

55.6 milligrams phosphorus (6 percent DV)

3.9 micrograms vitamin K (5 percent DV)

0.7 milligram zinc (5 percent DV)

A recent study by Abdullah et al.(2022) is in agreement and found that Cassava root is mainly high in vitamin C, an important vitamin that acts as an antioxidant, supports collagen production, and enhances immunity, among other benefits. The National Health Institute (2021) also found that cassava is rich in copper, a mineral necessary for neurotransmitter synthesis, energy production, iron metabolism, and more.

Glycemic Index, Nyambeh Nyebbeh

Interestingly in the Gambia, no studies have been conducted on the glycemic index of Nyambeh Nyebbeh. However, because cassava is the base ingredient, I will examine this base cassava diet’s glycemic index. GI is a classification of food based on the blood glucose response to a food relative to a standard glucose solution. Low glycemic foods control the release of glucose into the bloodstream at a steady and sustained rate, keeping the body’s metabolic processes and energy levels balanced.

People with low glycemic diets or [who] eat low glycemic foods are said to have a lower risk of getting coronary heart disease and type 2 diabetes. These food items that have low GI would benefit those who are already suffering from diabetes since these would help in the proper control and management of blood sugar.

This means that, as a low- GI food, eating cassava related diet such as Nyambeh Nyebbeh can also help improve physical endurance because blood glucose levels are moderated instead of dropping when insulin is produced. Low-GI foods also may help control triglyceride and other lipid levels in your blood. Cassava has even been called a “weight loss wonder food” due to its ability to decrease appetite and decrease fat storage in fat cells ( Kresser, 2014).

The Healthy Home Economist (2016) also calls cassava-resistant starch “the healthiest starch for your gut:” what does this mean to our health? They had this to say:

“Resistant starch is a type of starch that does not break down (it literally “resists” digestion), instead of being absorbed as glucose like most starches. Instead, resistant starch travels through the small intestine to the colon where it is turned into beneficial, energy-boosting, inflammation-squashing, and short-chain fatty acids by intestinal bacteria. The main reason why resistant starch is so beneficial is that it feeds the friendly bacteria in your colon, turns them into important short-chain fatty acids, such as butyrate (known to help reduce inflammation), and is extremely helpful in cases of autoimmunity, IBS, colitis, and allergies.

The authority nutrition (2016) also explains:

“Most of the carbohydrates in the cassava diet are starches. Starches are long chains of glucose that are found in grains, potatoes, and various foods. But not all of the starch we eat gets digested. Sometimes a small part of it passes through the digestive tract unchanged. In other words, it is resistant to digestion”.

A previous study by Topping et al, (2003) also explained that resistant starch can be very beneficial. As it feeds beneficial gut bacteria, it can reduce inflammation as well as harmful bacteria. It may also lower your blood glucose level after meals (Diabetes Care, 2006), improve insulin sensitivity (Robertson et al. 2005), help manage metabolic syndrome (Bodinham et al, 2010), and possibly help you eat less(Raben et al,1994). From this analysis, just imagine what eating your local cassava-related diet Nyambeh Nyebbeh could do to your health.

Cassava in Nyambeh Nyebbeh, the Science

Digestive and colon health

One study by Marandola et al.(2004) found that Cassava may also, by a different mechanism, be protective against cancer because it contains a chemical called tamarin which is responsible for the production of hydrocyanide. This tamarin has been shown in vitro to cause the death of cancer cells by self-toxicity with hydrocyanide. Another study by Tsumbu et al.(2011) found that Cassava Leaves and roots show promise against colon cancer. Irabor (2011) found that the low colon cancer in Nigeria could be due to the consumption of resistant starch foods such as cassava related. So eating Nyambeh Nyebbeh may help you reduce your colon cancer risk.

Cassava and prostate cancer?

Two case studies were reported by Abeygunasekera and Palliyaguruge(2013) which found that patients with hormone-resistant prostate cancer whose serum PSA level continued to rise despite consumption of large quantities of boiled roots of cassava indicating its ineffectiveness in controlling prostate cancer. Though they recognized that this is a single case, it guides healthcare workers who look after patients with castration-resistant prostate cancer in the absence of more comprehensive research on cassava and its effectiveness on prostate cancer. Take note that this case report was based on patients with hormone-resistant prostate cancer.

This means that the science is not strong to back the claim that cassava cures prostate cancer. Besides, the claim that linked this to the Vitamin B-17 content is not strong enough and could worsen your prostate cancer outlook.

Promotes wound healing

According to, Cassava is loaded with vitamin C, with 20% of the Daily Value in each 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving. Other studies found that cassava provides about 50% of the daily vitamin C needed for most adults.

Vitamin C plays a key role in many aspects of health, including immunity. Carr and Maggini(2017) study found that vitamin C can help protect against oxidative stress and support the function of immune cells in your body.


Source: prof. raphael nyarkotey obu

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