Cassava vs. Potato: Are They The Same? Let’s Compare


Cassava and potatoes share many similarities and can be used in many of the same recipes. For this reason many people wonder about their differences or if they’re the same. Let’s answer, is cassava the same as potato?

Cassava and potato are different species from different families. Cassava, also know as yuca, has a thicker, harder brown skin compared to the thinner skin of the potato. Cassava’s shape tapers toward the end while potatoes are more tube shaped or round. Cassava has a woody vascular core which potatoes don’t have.

This article will include a side-by-side comparison of their nutrients. In addition, I’ll examine their textures, tastes, costs, glycemic index and whether one can substitute for the other. We’ll also take a look at their health benefits.

Disclaimer: Some links in this article are affiliate links which means I may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. As an Amazon associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

The Differences Between Cassava and Potato

Potatoes are known to much of the world, having been brought to Europe by Spanish sailors in the 16th century. Like cassava, it is native to South America and has many variants with a wide range of flavors and nutritional profiles. 

Cassava

  • Much starchier than potato. 
  • Come in sweet and bitter variants. 
  • Has a nuttier and sweeter taste than potato.
  • Also known as yuca, manioc, or Brazilian arrowroot. 
  • Raw cassava can be poisonous. 
  • Contain more calories than potatoes.
  • High in resistant starch. 
  • Contain many antinutrients like saponins and tannins. 

Potato

  • Less starch than cassava. 
  • Has a more muted and earthy flavor.
  • Used in many countries around the world. 
  • Has fewer calories and starch.
  • Contain less resistant starch than cassava. 
  • Has a slightly different nutritional profile compared to cassava. 
  • Fourth largest food crop in the world, after corn, wheat and rice.
  • Excellent for frying, baking, mashing, fries or making into chips.

As you can see, there are many essential differences between the two vegetables. Even though their flavor and nutrition are different, they can often be used in many of the same or similar dishes. 

What Is Cassava?

Cassava is a nutty and starchy root vegetable native to South America. It is a major staple for many developing countries because it has a high caloric value. It is typically prepared by boiling, but it can also be grated or made into flour. 

One of the most popular uses of cassava is tapioca. The starchy content of cassava makes it quite gluey once processed into flour. This is useful for creating things like tapioca balls for bubble tea. 

Nutritional Profile of Cassava vs. Potatoes

Cassava and potato have similar nutritional profiles, but there are some key differences between the two. 

The following table is a side-by-side comparison of the nutrients contained in cassava and potatoes:

  Potato Raw (100 g) Cassava Raw (100 g)
Calories 69 160
Protein 1.68 g 1.36 g
Carbohydrates 15.7 g 38.1 g
Fiber 2.4 g 1.8 g
Fat 0.10 g 0.28 g
Sugar 1.15 g 1.70 g
Vitamin A 8 IU 13 IU
Beta-carotene 5 mcg 8 mcg
Vitamin C 9.1 mg 20.6 mg
Vitamin B6 0.20 mg 0.08 mg
Vitamin B9 (Folate) 18 mcg  27 mcg
Vitamin B1 (Thiamin) 0.07 mg  0.08 mg
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) 0.03 mg  0.04 mg
Vitamin B3 (Niacin) 1.07 mg  0.85 mg
Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic Acid) 0.28 mg  0.10 mg
Magnesium 21 mg  21 mg
Phosphorous 62 mg  27 mg
Potassium 407 mg 271 mg
Iron 0.52 mg 0.27 mg
Copper 0.11 mg  0.10 mg
Calcium 9 mg 16 mg
Zinc 0.29 mg  0.34 mg

Nutrient Resources 1 2 3

Both cassava and potatoes contain the same types of nutrients. At first glance it’s difficult to determine which one contains a higher percentage than the other. Is cassava healthier than a potato?

Potato is healthier than cassava due to its fewer calories, carbohydrates, fat, sugar and higher percentage of fiber, protein and minerals. Potato provides more B6, niacin, B5, phosphorus, potassium, iron and copper than cassava.

Cassava is healthy also and contains many nutrients. Cassava provides a higher percentage of vitamin A, beta carotene, vitamin C, folate, thiamin, riboflavin, calcium and zinc. Choosing between the two may determine your particular goals.

One of those goals may be weight loss. Therefore, is cassava better for weight loss than potato? Cassava is not better for weight loss than potatoes due to its higher percentage of calories, carbohydrates and sugar. Cassava contains 132% more calories than a potato.

So generally, both vegetables contain a number of varied nutrients good as part of a balanced diet. The main thing about root vegetables is fulfilling a large caloric requirement without adding many fats or sugar to your diet.

This is one of the reasons that both potatoes and cassava are popular staples in many developing countries. 

If you suffer from diabetes or are concerned about your blood sugar in general, cassava might be the better option for you. Read more about blood sugar spikes in the glycemic section of this article down further.

Therefore, if you’re on a low carb or Keto diet, potatoes are the better choice because they contain less carbs. Check out the Keto tip just below.

Keto Bread Tip: Great News! Did you know, you don’t have to give up your favorite bread, pizza or sandwiches to follow a 100% Keto diet. Find out more in the KetoBreads website by clicking here, Keto Breads.

One thing worth mentioning is that Cassava contains a number of antinutrients. These are substances hindering the body’s ability to absorb nutrition. 

Specifically, cassava contains:

  • Saponins
  • Phytate
  • Tannins

Studies show raw Cassava actually contains cyanogenic glycosides. This means certain chemicals in cassava can be converted into cyanide by the body. This can result in chronic cyanide poisoning if the root is not prepared correctly 4.

Making sure to cook the cassava thoroughly will destroy the dangerous chemicals and make it safe for consumption. 

cassava and potato nutrient comparison

Cassava vs Potato: Taste and Texture

Many times people choose one food over the other because of its taste. Since there are some similarities between the two, many people wonder and ask, does cassava taste like potato?

Cassava doesn’t taste like potato but they have a similar texture. Cassava is nutty and slightly sweet and bitter at the same time. Potatoes taste a little earthier. Cassava and potato have a similar creamy, dense and soft texture. 

We’re all familiar with the flavor and texture of potatoes. When potatoes are baked or fried, they get a golden, crispy crust with a pillowy inside. Potatoes get very soft when boiled, so people love turning them into silky smooth mashed potatoes.

The flavor of potatoes is nothing extreme. It’s somewhat earthy and slightly sweet from the naturally occurring sugars.

What is the flavor of cassava? Cassava is slightly earthy and sweet. It has a nutty flavor with a creamy, dense texture. 

Find out how potatoes compared to bread for health and nutrients in my article, Potatoes vs Bread: Which is Better? A Complete Comparison.

Cassava and Potato Substitutions

There are times when only one of the two is available in the supermarket or you only have one at home. In these situations you’ll wonder, can I use potato instead of cassava?

Potato and cassava can substitute for each other due to their similar textures and cooking methods for recipes. Although the taste will slightly differ, potato and cassava can be used in the same recipes requiring boiling, baking, frying, soup, stews or mashing. Both can substitute for each other using the same weight called for in a recipe.

The following can substitute for cassava:

  • Sweet potato
  • Potato
  • Parsnip

The following can substitute for potatoes:

  • Sweet potato
  • Taro
  • Red potatoes
  • Any type of white potato
  • Cassava

How To Cook Cassava

  • Cassava (yuca) should never be eaten raw. It needs to be peeled, cut and cooked.
  • It’s better to trim off the skin with a knife rather than a vegetable peeler. 
  • Before peeling, it should be rinsed and the ends cut off. It’s easier to peel by standing it up on the end. It’s possible to peel the skin down by using your fingers.
  • It is recommended to remove the woody core prior to cooking.

Cassava can be cooked any way you would cook potatoes including:

  • Steaming
  • Baking
  • Boiling
  • Mashed
  • Fries
  • Roasted
  • Chips

Cassava is also grind into flour and used in baked goods and bread as a gluten substitute.

Find out how turnips compared to potatoes in my article, Turnip vs. Potato: What’s The Difference? Let’s Compare.

Cassava and Potato Costs

With the rising prices of just about everything, the cost of food certainly matters to most. The price may sway your decision about which one to use. Therefore, which costs more, cassava or potatoes?

Cassava cost more than potatoes. The average price for potatoes is $0.99 per pound, and the average price for cassava is $2.43 per pound.

Depending on where you live, it may be easier to find potatoes than cassava. Potatoes are readily available and affordable to purchase in any supermarket. 

I conducted an extensive search for cassava and potatoes online.

I checked Safeway online and found the following cassava and potato prices:

  • Cassava
    • $2.49 per pound
  • Idaho Gold potatoes
    • $1.20 per pound
  • Idaho Russet potatoes
    • $0.60 per pound
  • Red potatoes
    • $1.20 per pound
  • Russet potatoes
    • $0.60 per pound

I checked Shoprite supermarket for the prices of potatoes and cassava and only found potatoes:

  • Potatoes
    • $0.99 per pound

I also checked Walmart:

  • Cassava
    • $2.37 per pound
  • Potatoes
    • $0.99 per pound

Cassava, aka yuca, is easy to find on Amazon and more affordable. Check their current prices, cassava.

If you’re interested about how sweet potatoes held up against pumpkin for health and nutrition, check out my article, Pumpkin vs Sweet Potato: A Complete Comparison.

How To Store Cassava and Potatoes

Whichever you choose or have on hand, proper storage is crucial. How you store vegetables can affect how long they last before going bad and how they taste when cooked. Therefore, how do you store potatoes?

Store potatoes in a dark, cool place away from heat and do not store them in the refrigerator. A humid basement or root cellar is the best area. They should be kept in a burlap bag or ventilated container and stored between 40°F and 60°F.

Storing potatoes in a refrigerator can make the center hard and change the cell structure. This can diminish the flavor. If you don’t have a cool basement, store them in a ventilated place, away from heat and light.

How do you store cassava?

Unpeeled cassava should be stored in a cool, dry place up to one week. A pantry or somewhere out of the sun or away from a heat source is ideal. Peeled or cut cassava should be placed into a bowl, covered with water and sealed. Keep the peeled cassava in the refrigerator up to two weeks.

How to know if cassava is bad? If the cassava has soft brown spots or has an unusual odor, it is bad and should be discarded. Cassava is bad if the flesh has black lines, spots or any discoloration.

To find out what the difference is between taro and potato check out my article, Taro vs. Potato – A Complete Comparison.

Cassava and Potatoes Glycemic Index

Knowing the glycemic index of food is important especially if blood sugar levels are a concern. Avoiding blood sugar spikes is an important part of consuming healthy food. 

The Glycemic Index (GI) is a scale measuring how fast a particular food raises the blood sugar in the blood 5. Blood sugar spikes can lead to health complications with the heart, nerves, kidneys and eyes 6

Foods on the GI scale are categorized as:

  • Low-GI foods: 55 or under
  • Medium-GI foods: 56-69
  • High-GI foods: 70 or over

How blood sugars levels are affected:

  • Foods with a glycemic index 70 or more cause a quicker spike in blood sugar levels.
  • Foods with a glycemic index 56 to 69 cause a moderate spike in blood sugar levels.
  • Foods with a glycemic index 55 or less cause a slow spike in blood sugar levels.

Now we know what the glycemic index is, and how it affects blood sugar, let’s answer, does cassava or potatoes have a higher GI?

The cassava GI index of 46 is lower than potatoes. Cassava has a GI of 46, a boiled russet potato has a GI of 54 and a boiled Yukon Gold has a GI of 58.

Potatoes all have different GI scores. In addition to how a potato is cooked, the heat of the potato when eaten affects the GI.

A study published in the Journal of the Diabetic Association found boiled potatoes eaten cold had a GI score of 56. When eaten hot the boiled potato had a GI score of 89 7.  

Find out if potatoes or rice have more nutrients in my article, Potato vs. Rice Nutrition: Which is Better?

Cassava and Potato Health Benefits

As noted in the nutrient section of this article earlier, the nutrients provided by cassava and potatoes have many health benefits. Let’s examine how each one of these nutrients benefit health issues.

Vitamins

Cassava provides 20.6 mg of vitamin C while potatoes provide 9.1 mg. The body can’t make vitamin C, so it must come from the foods ate every day. Vitamin C has been shown in studies to help with the growth and repair of tissues throughout the body 8.

Vitamin C helps heal and repair wounds, maintain healthy bones, skin and cartilage. Vitamin C acts as an antioxidant and fights free radicals which damage the cells. Helping to prevent cell damage can help with the following:

  • Certain diseases like cancer.
  • Heart disease.
  • Promote healthy aging.

Of the six B vitamins listed below, potatoes provides a higher percentage of four of them. The B vitamins provided include the following:

  1. B1 (thiamin)
  2. B2 (riboflavin)
  3. B3 (niacin)
  4. B5
  5. B6
  6. B9 (folate)

B vitamins help support the following:

  • Red blood cells.
  • Brain function.
  • Nerve function.
  • Cardiovascular disease.
  • Digestion.
  • Energy levels.

A lack of B vitamins has been associated with oxidative stress and neural inflammation. In a study released in 2018 32 healthy adults were given B vitamin supplementation for six months. The results indicated preliminary evidence B vitamin supplementation reduced oxidative stress and inflammation 9.

Fiber

Cassava provides 1.8 grams of fiber and potatoes 2.4 grams per 100 gram serving. They both contain soluble and insoluble fiber. Fiber remains in the digestive tract and provides gut related health benefits. Fiber rich diets have been linked to regular bowel movements and a lower risk of colon cancer 10.

Calcium

Cassava provides 16 grams of calcium and potatoes 9 mg per 100 grams. Calcium is important for the heart and blood pressure. Harvard Health reports calcium helps maintain blood pressure by helping in the controlling of the relaxing and tightening of blood vessels 11.

Calcium also helps the following:

  • Build and maintain strong bones.
  • Helps muscles function properly.
  • Helps nerve function.

Magnesium

Cassava and potatoes provide 21 mg of magnesium per 100 grams. Magnesium helps keep blood pressure levels stable and balanced. Recent scientific research examined previous studies and concluded magnesium supplementation decreased systolic and diastolic blood pressure 12.

Magnesium helps control the following:

  • Nerve function
  • Muscle
  • Insomnia
  • Blood pressure
  • Blood sugar

One reason many people supplement with magnesium in the evening is because it helps calm the whole body including blood vessels.

In the heart and muscles, magnesium competes with calcium to help the muscles relax after contracting. When the body is low in magnesium, calcium can over stimulate the heart muscle’s cells causing a rapid or irregular heartbeat 13.

Potassium

Cassava provides 271 mg of potassium and potatoes 407 mg per 100 grams raw. Potassium helps the body get rid of excess sodium reducing fluid build-up. These help keep systolic and diastolic blood pressure lower 14.

According to Harvard Health, a number of studies have shown a connection between low potassium levels and high blood pressure 15. The more potassium, the more sodium your body will lose.

Consuming too much sodium or not enough potassium throws off the delicate balance the kidneys need to remove the excess water 16.

Additional Article Resources 17 18 19 20 21 2223 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33

Read Next – More Potato vs Food Articles!

Red Potatoes vs Yukon Gold Potatoes: What’s The Difference?

Sweet Potato vs. Butternut Squash: A Comparison

Are Sweet Potatoes Healthier Than Regular Potatoes?

Sweet Potato vs. Russet Potato: What’s The Difference?

Yukon Gold Potato vs Russet Potato: What’s The Difference?      

Plantain vs Potato – Which is Better? Let’s Compare

 

Article Resources: Foods For Anti-Aging follows strict guidelines to ensure our content is the highest journalistic standard. It's our mission to provide the reader with accurate, honest and unbiased guidance. Our content relies on medical associations, research institutions, government agencies and study resources. Learn more by reading our editorial policy.
  1. USDA: Cassava, raw[]
  2. Nutrition Value: Cassava, raw[]
  3. USDA: Potatoes, white, flesh and skin, raw[]
  4. National Center for Biotechnology Information: Chronic poisoning by hydrogen cyanide in cassava and its prevention in Africa and Latin America[]
  5. Harvard Health Publishing: Glycemic index for 60+ foods[]
  6. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases: Know Your Blood Sugar Numbers: Use Them to Manage Your Diabetes[]
  7. National Center for Biotechnology Information: Glycemic index of potatoes commonly consumed in North America[]
  8. National Center for Biotechnology Information: Vitamin C and Immune Function[]
  9. National Center for Biotechnology Information: The Effect of a High-Dose Vitamin B Multivitamin Supplement on the Relationship between Brain Metabolism and Blood Biomarkers of Oxidative Stress: A Randomized Control Trial[]
  10. National Center for Biotechnology Information: Mechanisms linking dietary fiber, gut microbiota and colon cancer prevention[]
  11. Harvard Health: Key minerals to help control blood pressure[]
  12. National Center for Biotechnology Information: Effect of magnesium supplementation on blood pressure: a meta-analysis[]
  13. National Institutes of Health: Magnesium[]
  14. American Heart Association: How Potassium Can Help Control High Blood Pressure[]
  15. Harvard Health: Potassium lowers blood pressure[]
  16. National Center for Biotechnology Information: The Effect of the Sodium to Potassium Ratio on Hypertension Prevalence: A Propensity Score Matching Approach[]
  17. Wikipedia: Cassava[]
  18. Britannica: Cassava[]
  19. USDA: Plant Guide Cassava[]
  20. National Center for Biotechnology Information: Ethnopharmacological values of cassava and its potential for diabetes and dyslipidemia management: Knowledge survey and critical review of report[]
  21. National Center for Biotechnology Information: Cassava: Nutrient composition and nutritive value in poultry diets[]
  22. National Center for Biotechnology Information: Nutritional Value of Cassava for Use as a Staple Food and Recent Advances for Improvement[]
  23. Wikipedia: Russet potato[]
  24. California Department Of Education: Potatoes, Russet[]
  25. USDA: Potatoes, Russet, Flesh and skin, baked[]
  26. The University of Maine: Potato Facts[]
  27. University of Rochester Medical Center: Potatoes, russet, flesh and skin, raw, 1 Potato large (3″ to 4-1/4″ dia) []
  28. Food Source Information Colorado Integrated Food Safety Center Of Excellence: Potatoes[]
  29. Wikipedia: Potato[]
  30. University of Nebraska-Lincoln: Yukon Gold: Characteristics[]
  31. USDA: Yukon Gold Mashed Potatoes[]
  32. University of Florida: University of Florida Potato Variety Trials Spotlight: Yukon Gold[]
  33. USDA: Macronutrients[]

Kevin Garce

Kevin Garce is a Certified Health Coach who encourages people by informing them on nutrition and food topics important to them. His years of research and knowledge inspire people to achieve their goals. Read more here About Me

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