Tapioca pearls are delicious add-ons to cold drinks and a variety of desserts. But it has recently grown popular as the demand for milk tea increased. In the Asian region alone, milk tea has become a staple casual drink and it’s common to see people there drinking milk tea with tapioca pearls.
They’re yummy, yes. But health-conscious folks like me would surely like to know if tapioca pearls are good for the health.
What are tapioca pearls made of?
Tapioca is a starchy product derived from cassava roots, which are common in Africa, South America, some parts of Asia, and the Middle East. Cassava root starch is high in carbohydrates and contains a little protein and other nutrients.
Tapioca is gluten-free, which is why some people use it and other cassava products as alternatives to bran or wheat. It is useful as a substitute to flour. Moreover, it is a good food binder or thickener for burger patties, soups, and gravies.
Now that we know the basics, let’s find out how Tapioca Pearls are made.
How are tapioca pearls made?
Manufacturers in different regions have their own way of making tapioca pearls. But the basic process is this:
- Extracting the liquid out cassava tuber roots
- Airing out the liquid using a machine that will trigger the process of evaporation
- After evaporating all the liquid content, solid materials will show
The solidified content is the tapioca starch powder, which will be processed into refined flour, powder, or pearls. The most in-demand form of tapioca starch is the pearl form.
Are tapioca pearls healthy or beneficial?
Now, we ask the question, “What does my body get from tapioca pearls?”
Unfortunately, your favorite tapioca pearls in your milk tea might have little nutrition to offer or none at all. Tapioca pearls do contain carbohydrates and, in a way, they are energy-giving food accessories. But given that the pearls are not served in large sizes, we may get so little carbohydrates and in turn, energy.
So, tapioca has very little nutritional value. What else can is good about them?
Sure tapioca pearls do not perform miracles like herbs but they give good effects in their own way. What are these?
What are the benefits of tapioca?
Once again, tapioca pearls offer very little nutritional content, especially when served in small amounts. But there are a couple of benefits from tapioca in general. There is a possibility that you may enjoy these benefits even when the tapioca is in pearl form.
Tapioca may substitute types of flour that are not gluten-free. Those in a gluten-free diet or are allergic to wheat may find tapioca pearls a treat.
2. May Help Digestion
If you have a bad bowel movement, tapioca pearls might help you. It is a resistant starch and does not easily submit to the digestion process. This resistance to digestion earned it to be called a “fiber but not really a fiber” food. Food rich in fiber or acts like a fiber helps in smoothening your bowel movement.
Tapioca may also:
- Reduce inflammation in your gut and the number of harmful bacteria
- Increase glucose metabolism for the production of energy
- Elevate the amount of insulin for blood sugar level regulation
- Promote the feeling of fullness
3. Aid with Production of Red Blood Cells
They are a good source of iron for red blood cell production. If you are iron deficient, you may experience anemia-like symptoms like dizziness, sudden headaches, mood swings, or fatigue. Tapioca, though may be low in protein, can actually help in the synthesis of it. Now, that is some good food. A cup serving of tapioca pearls may give you 2.4 milligrams of iron.
4. Contains Low Sodium
This is great news for people who want to avoid sodium in their diet. Naturally, the starch-riched tapioca pearls barely have sodium content in them. Most patients having a problem with cardiovascular, or kidney stones are probably due to the high amount of sodium they get from their everyday diets.
It’s nice to know that generally tapioca pearls are not so bad to consume and it actually had health benefits to go with. However, if abused, and is taken without careful discretion, consuming tapioca pearls might have bad effects.
Bad Effects of Tapioca Pearls on our Health
1. Might Be A Poison
No kidding. Tapioca pearls might be poisonous once eaten. Tapioca pearls may poison you if the cassava it is from, is not properly processed. This is because of the inherent toxic compound of cassava which is called Linamarin. Once ingested, it will chemically break down into cyanide. Cyanide is one of the most poisonous chemicals a human being can ingest. If not immediately remedied, the person might be dead. As a precaution, always buy tapioca pearls or starch in general to a reputable store. It must be from commercially known producers. Do not procure from home-made or locally made shops.
2. Tapioca Pearls Should Be Avoided if Allergic to Cassava
People who are allergic to cassava are typically rare. However, if you suspect a reaction after eating it, immediately go to a doctor. A confirmed reaction to it may mean that you are allergic to latex. Your body might have mistaken cassava compound properties as that of latex. To know more about this cross-interaction, have a trip to a doctor.