Some of you have heard of it, some of you have not: tapioca. Does it ring any bells? Maybe not. I didn’t know about tapioca or the tapioca health benefits until I saw the beautiful, white tapioca pearls, in a jar in an organic shop. That’s the moment I decided that I have to learn more about this interesting … (I did not know what to call it at that moment).
Tapioca is one of the purest forms of starch food, extracted from the cassava root – a Brazilian, medium-size shrub (plant). The plant is native to the North Brazil, but has now been spread around the entire globe and cultivated worldwide.
Considered a staple food in some regions, tapioca is used as a thickening agent in various foods (Wikipedia). Speaking from a commercial point of view, this starch is processed into a few forms:
- hot soluble powder
- spherical pearls
- rectangular sticks
- pre-cooked fine/coarse flakes
How to cook tapioca?
The pearls, sticks and flakes must be soaked before cooking. So, you should leave them in water the night before deciding to use them, so they rehydrate and double their volume. When it is cooked, tapioca looks like a pale, transparent jelly.
- the tapioca pearls are usually white, but they become translucent when cooked in boiling water
- the sticks and flakes can be colored – the most common color applied to tapioca has been brown
“Tapioca pearls, also known as boba in some cultures, are produced by passing the moist starch through a sieve under pressure. Pearl tapioca is a common ingredient in South, East and Southeast Asian desserts such as falooda, kolak, sago soup, and in sweet drinks such as bubble tea, fruit slush and taho, where they provide a chewy contrast to the sweetness and texture of the drink. Small pearls are preferred for use in puddings. In Brazil, the pearls are cooked with wine or other liquid to add flavor and are called sagu”. (Wikipedia)
As far as my reading goes, it looks like the large tapioca pearls are preferred for use in drinks. They are available in a variety of colors and are most commonly used in tea drinks.
Tapioca’s most common use is in puddings. It is also preferred by vegetarians since it is a gluten-free and high in proteins type of food. It is a very useful vegetable and can be used in a variety of dishes, a fact that makes it quite important to some.
A true innovation, nowadays, is to cook the tapioca pearls inside cakes.
Let’s check out the main tapioca health benefits and see why we should try it!
Tapioca Health Benefits
It seems like amongst some of the tapioca health benefits we can name a unique set of vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, dietary fibers, good cholesterol, and proteins.
Regarding vitamins, it seems to contain the vitamin B complex – B6, folate, pantothenic acid, iron, selenium, copper, manganese, and calcium.
#1. Weight Gain
If you’re looking to gain weight in a healthy way, then tapioca is your answer. Because of the high amount of carbohydrates, tapioca can help you with 45% of the daily dose of necessary carbs.
And it’s, actually, great news since it does NOT contain unhealthy cholesterol or large amounts of saturated fats. This is the perfect supplement for those suffering from eating disorders and need to gain some weight.
#2. Improves Digestion
Want a digestion boost? The tapioca health benefits regarding digestions are the relief of flatulence, constipation, indigestion, bloating, intestinal pain. All of these due to the dietary fibers it contains.
Also, tapioca helps you stay in check with your cholesterol levels, scraping out the bad cholesterol off the walls of arteries and blood vessels. This way, it can help avoid disorders such as heart attacks and strokes and also atherosclerosis.
#3. Healthy Bones
Seems that tapioca represents a rich source of vitamin K, calcium, and iron. Therefore, it is quite important when talking about the bone health.
As long as we consume foods high in vitamin K, calcium, and iron, we should not worry about the aging problems that come along: osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, lack of flexibility and mobility regarding bones.
A true important mineral for our body is iron. Without it, we wouldn’t be functioning properly. Iron is also responsible for the creation of new red blood cells. The minerals tapioca has are responsible for preventing anemia and other conditions.
Because of the “production” of new red blood cells, the blood flow is assured to all parts of the body, including the extremities. A healthy blood circulation and blood oxygenized cells are what keeps us functioning to an optimal level.
#5. Energy Boost
Because of all the vitamins and carbohydrates it contains, tapioca can provide us with a real boost when our energy reserves are low. You should try adding it to your diet and see the differences.
You won’t feel so hungry because of the carbohydrates it contains and your general state will improve.
#6. Muscle Growth
Since tapioca contains a lot of proteins, you can be sure that your muscles will be protected and will be enhanced to grow and get stronger. Tapioca is an important source of proteins, especially for those who are vegetarians.
#7. Birth Defects
Another of the cool tapioca health benefits is the fact that it can protect the fetus against serious birth defects due to its concentration of folic acid and the complex of vitamins B. These two have directly connected in reducing the chances of babies developing neural tube defects.
#8. Blood Pressure
I have also read that, among the tapioca health benefits, there is also the fact that it can keep the blood pressure under control. Potassium is also important, here, due to the fact that it improves blood circulation by reducing the tension and stress of blood vessels. This is a good thing if you want to avoid atherosclerosis and heart conditions.
If a balance between potassium and sodium is maintained, then, the metabolism get an energetic boost, while fluid exchanges can be calm.
#9. Neurological Health
When talking about the tapioca health benefits, we should also mention the fact that tapioca can help avoid some serious neurological disorders such as the Alzheimer disease.
Besides what I already mentioned about vitamin K, you should know that it is also essential for the activity of our mental health. It stimulates the brain’s activity, therefore reducing the chances of having Alzheimer. So, as long as we keep an active mind, we should be fine.
Tapioca is fine and ok to use when purchased directly from stores. However, you shouldn’t attempt to eat or cook yourself the cassava root found in the wild. It can be poisonous if not prepared correctly. The cassava root produces cyanides, which are very toxic to humans (can cause nausea, vomiting, headache, stomach pain, dizziness, death).
So, now that you’ve discovered some of the tapioca health benefits, are you ready to try it? To tell you the truth, I was just about to head out to my kitchen and start cooking it, to see what desserts come out of it. Enjoy!