Yucca vs. Yuca + Yuca vs. Potatoes

Does the title of this post make you feel slightly dizzy? Me too. That’s why I felt compelled to put fingers to keyboard.

Without realizing it, I have been using the words “yucca” and “yuca” interchangeably when, in fact, they refer to two completely different plants.

And I’m not the only one. A Google search of “yucca preparation” yielded 554,000 results, although the web sites were really trying to demonstrate the preparation of “yuca.”

And, to add insult to injury, I’ve been pronouncing the two words exactly the same: “yuck” and “a.” However, this is only correct for “yucca,” not for “yuca” which sounds like the beginning of Yucatan.

Moreover, I realized I knew nothing about the root vegetable I’ve started using as part of my “Get Acquainted with Vegetables” year.

So, in honour of living and learning…

YUCCA vs. YUCA

Yucca filamentosa

Yucca decipiens

According to Wikipedia, yucca is the genus name for 40-50 species of a perennial shrub or tree that is grown primarily for decorative purposes.

To put it another way, it is very unlikely that either you or I have added yucca to our diet.

On the other hand… 

Yuca plant

Yuca tuber

Yuca is an extensively grown tropical vegetable that has other common names that you may recognize, such as cassava, manioc, and tapioca.

The yuca tuber can be roasted, boiled, and fried. Because it is starchy and high in carbohydrates, it can be used as a substitute for potatoes.

Which brings me to the next point…

YUCA vs. POTATOES

Given that yuca can substitute for potatoes, how does it stack up nutritionally and diet-wise?

Nutritional Benefits (Source: NutritionSelf.com)

  • Yuca is very low in saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium. It is also a good source of manganese, and a very good source of Vitamin C.
  • Potato, including the skin, is very low in saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium. It is also a good source of dietary fiber, Vitamin B6 and potassium, and a very good source of Vitamin C.
  • Sweet potato (skin is not mentioned in the source) is very low in saturated fat and cholesterol. It is also a good source of dietary fiber, Vitamin B6, potassium, and manganese, and a very good source of Vitamin A.

Diet-Wise (Source: Cassava in Wikipedia)

I’ve been roasting yuca with my vegetables and enjoying its starchy sweetness. But, today’s research means that I’m going to be more careful about the quantity of yuca that I eat in the future.

As the table shows, yuca is double the calories of regular potato and sweet potato. The same goes for Weight Watcher points.

However, as those of you who are gluten-free know, variety is the spice of life. Yuca will remain one of the sources of carbohydrates that I can enjoy and tolerate well.

Per 100 grams or 3.5 ounces (raw) YUCA POTATO SWEET POTATO
Calories (g) 670 322 360
Protein (g) 2.0 1.4 1.6
Fat (g) 0.28 0.09 0.05
Carbohydrates (g) 38 17 20
Fiber (g) 2.2 1.8 3.0
Sugar (g) 0.78 1.7 4.18


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30 thoughts on “Yucca vs. Yuca + Yuca vs. Potatoes

  1. Very interesting! My mom has a yucca plant in her back yard, but I had no idea that there is a root vegetable of a similar name. I’m pretty sure I’ve run across recipes that call for yuca and thought, “You can eat that plant?”

  2. first had this in chicago as a “mashed potato”… very delicious… bought some while visiting chicago again… peeled, diced, sauted… mmm mmm mmm… but won’t eat it a lot

  3. Just FYI I am in school studying botanical medicine, and there is a well-known eclectic use of Yucca for arthritic and inflammatory joint complaints. I too was confused about yucca vs yuca, so thanks for helping me out 🙂

    • Thanks so much for visiting, commenting, and adding to the state of my knowledge and that of my visitors. BTW, this information would be useful on the yucca Wikipedia page; I don’t remember seeing anything about a medicinal use on it.

  4. There was a mention on one of the web sites that yuca contains cyanide and that cooking removes it … no mention of how much cooking and how much cyanide. Kind of a downer that maybe should be mentioned.

    • Very interesting comment, and it sent me into immediate research, which I love! Here’s the low-down from Wikipedia, and I believe this tells us that the yuca in the grocery stores is the small, sweet type that can be cooked to remove low levels of cyanide. I suggest that boiling or microwaving until the yuca is as soft as cooked potatoes does the trick.

      “Cassava roots and leaves should not be consumed raw because they contain two cyanogenic glucosides, linamarin and lotaustralin. These are decomposed by linamarase, a naturally occurring enzyme in cassava, liberating hydrogen cyanide (HCN).[34] Cassava varieties are often categorized as either sweet or bitter, signifying the absence or presence of toxic levels of cyanogenic glucosides, respectively. The so-called sweet (actually not bitter) cultivars can produce as little as 20 milligrams of cyanide (CN) per kilogram of fresh roots, whereas bitter ones may produce more than 50 times as much (1 g/kg).

      “Societies that traditionally eat cassava generally understand some processing (soaking, cooking, fermentation, etc.) is necessary to avoid getting sick.[39] For some smaller-rooted, sweet varieties, cooking is sufficient to eliminate all toxicity. The cyanide is carried away in the processing water and the amounts produced in domestic consumption are too small to have environmental impact.[34] The larger-rooted, bitter varieties used for production of flour or starch must be processed to remove the cyanogenic glucosides. and then ground into flour, which is then soaked in water, squeezed dry several times, and toasted.”

  5. I grew up in Kenya where cassava is a common food crop. Usually the local people can tell the difference between the sweet type and the bitter by their leaves, the sweet has reddish stems and the bitter black stems towards the leaves. simply drying them (skin removed and chopped up) and taking to the flour mills does the trick. I actually did not know that there were nutritional or health benefits to them. Even in the villages, they are eaten as a source of carbohydrates only and are underated when it comes to nutrition!!!!! The sweet ones are boiled and eaten in various recipes. the fermentation and soaking is a game of the seventies really, I doubt if anyone still uses it.

  6. I have about 4 yucca plants in my SE, USA yard, and recently found a gluten-free flour that has cassava with it. Thanks for the information.

  7. People should not worry about the calories, this is a vegetable and a very beneficial one. 300 calories from this is better than 100 calories from a can of soda

  8. Pingback: Yuca, not yukky. | chefsebastian

  9. One important point is that yuca contains cyanide. It should not be eaten raw or partially cooked. Boiling and then simmering until tender is supposed to remove the toxins. Epicurious.com has a delicious recipe for the delicious Brazilian dish Bobó de Camarão (shrimp sauce with yuca puree ).

  10. Well flip,…I wish you had included info on purple yam vs sweet potato vs cat tail roots.
    Yes, this is a serious suggestion.

  11. Very helpful info ~ I was hoping it was less calories AND better for you than potatoes – but as usual everything that tastes good to me has too many calories. Moderation as usual and maybe it will help the old joints.

  12. Pingback: Yuca frita is the crispy-creamy french fry alternative you've got to try - Recipe Land

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