Tapioca comes from a tropical shrub called the cassava plant and grows in South America. It is very starchy and is often used as a thickening agent for preparing various dishes and is available in the form of powder, flour or pearls. The tapioca pearls are used in in bubble tea, as well as cakes, puddings and beverages.
Tapioca is also frequently used in gluten-free dishes to replace grains, providing a starch alternative that is safe for people that have Celiac disease.
Because of the carbohydrate content of tapioca it is commonly used for weight gain. While this it not typically the goal of most people, some individuals are underweight which can pose just as many health issues as being overweight can. Due to the tapioca’s content of carbohydrates, it can be added to a diet regimen to assist in weight gain without consuming unhealthy fats or cholesterol.
Listed below are additional health benefits of tapioca:
- Increases Circulation: Tapioca is an ideal source of iron and provides 1.58 milligrams for each cup consumed. Iron is essential to the formation of new red blood cells and helps in the prevention of anemia.
- Good Source of Copper: Copper helps maintain a healthy immune system and works in conjunction with iron to support healthy nerve cells. Collagen is necessary for a glowing, clear complexion as well as healthy joints and copper supports the production of collagen in the body.
- Improves Bone Density: Tapioca is high in vitamin K and calcium, both of which work with iron to protect the density of bones and protect against osteoarthritis and osteoporosis.
The History of Tapioca
Tapioca is native to South America and the West Indies. It comes from the root of the cassava plant and it used in a variety of dishes. While commonly used as a thickening agent for puddings and soups, it is also ground to a paste and shaped into a flake, which is then baked into a thin, crispy cake.
During World War II the plant became a main food source for refugees of Southeast Asia. Due to the food shortage, people had to fend for themselves and tapioca nourished many individuals helping them survive through crisis and war. When eaten in plant form, it should be cooked, as it is a tuber and if not properly prepared may cause harm. The fleshy plant has a sweet flavor and is routinely enjoyed in Brazil as a sweet treat. Cassava is frequently fried or mashed for pancakes.
If you’ve not yet tried bubble tea with the tiny clear bubbles that pop, you should try it at least once just for fun.
Enjoy tapioca in a variety of dishes and a healthy gluten-free alternative.