Cassava root is a vegetable native to South America, Brazil, Columbia, and Cuba. Tapioca is the delicious extract derived from cassava root which is widely used as staple in developing countries such as Africa, Asia and South America. It is also used as a thickener or food ingredient in puddings, desserts and beverages. Tapioca is sold in flakes, pellets, flour and pearls – the latter to be the most widely used.
Benefits of Tapioca:
Tapioca is almost pure starch with negligible amounts of nutrition. The nutritional value of cassava is almost the same as that of a potato but it also comes with some healthful benefits.
- Tapioca helps support digestive health. It is easy to digest and contains good amount of fiber which helps with constipation and bloating. It can also help prevent colorectal cancer. It also helps prevent stroke and heart diseases because it scrapes fat and cholesterol in blood vessels and arterial walls of the heart.
- It helps support weight gain and is an ideal solution for those suffering with eating disorders. Tapioca contains high amounts of carbohydrates with zero fat and cholesterol.
- It is cheap and a good staple for developing countries.
- It contains iron – good for increasing blood circulation and helps prevent anemia. It also helps treat fatigue. The little iron it contains helps carry blood throughout the body which thereby aids with wound healing.
- Tapioca helps control blood pressure. Not only does it contain calcium but also contains potassium which helps relax tension in the arteries and blood vessels to prevent them from getting stressed and strained thereby preventing strokes and heart diseases.
- Tapioca contains a good amount of carbohydrates and can be the best option for energy booster with zero fat and cholesterol.
- The Vitamin B complex and folic acid it contains helps prevent birth defects.
- The protein in tapioca helps build muscle density.
- It helps prevent Alzheimer’s disease with its Vitamin K content.
- Carbohydrates contained in tapioca helps with serotonin production which helps alleviate the mood.
- It is gluten-free better than wheat and contains carbohydrates which make you feel full immediately.
- It is low in sodium making it a good ingredient for desserts and other dishes.
- It has variety cooking uses. It can be used as starch, thickener, and flour.
- Tapioca is a good option for people with gluten intolerance.
- It has a bland taste making it easier to blend with other foods and ingredients.
Side Effects and Safety:
- Cassava contains chemicals called cyanogenic glycosides that release cyanide in the body. These chemicals can cause cyanide poisoning so it must be prepared, processed and cooked properly. Early symptoms include dizziness and headache.
- Tapioca can cause allergic reactions when consumed in large doses. This can include: diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pains, dilated pupils, sweating and chills. Consult your doctor for safety advice before consuming it.
- Do not eat raw or improperly prepared cassava as it increases the risk for cassava poisoning. Although it is available in commercial packs, make sure to purchase it from reliable manufacturers.
- While it is true that tapioca is packed with many kinds of vitamins and minerals, it only contains very few and is not good to consume daily if you need more nutrients.
- Read food labels and avoid tapioca based products if you are allergic to it.
- Know early symptoms of allergies. It usually occurs minutes to hours after ingestion and can range from mild to life-threatening. Recognize the signs, stop eating, take your medication and if severe, immediately bring to the hospital.
- As much as possible, prepare your own food. It is not only cheap and healthy but it helps you stay away from your allergens. Most food ingredients you might be allergic to are hidden in dishes served in restaurants and gatherings.
- Initiate early treatment as soon as allergic symptoms are recognized and go to a nearby hospital or an emergency room if symptoms progress.
This material is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease and should not be relied as medical advice. Always consult your doctor before taking any medication or supplements.