5 Health Benefits of Tapioca
Tapioca is much more than a type of pudding cup on a grocery aisle shelf. And though the sweetness and creaminess may be desired, its ground up form can be implemented in baked goods and offer a savory flavor. So what is tapioca and how can we benefit from it?
Tapioca is more than just a type of pudding cup in your grocery store. And though the sweetness and creaminess may be desired, tapioca can simply be used in a baking recipe as a thickening ingredient. So what is tapioca and how can our body benefit from its versatile use and intake?
What is Tapioca, Exactly?
Tapioca is extracted from cassava root, a tuberous plant similar to a potato. The starchy flesh is created and formed into the well-known small pearls or also into flakes, granules, or powders. Most commonly the small bead products are used in puddings and teas. However, the granules, flakes, and powders can also serve as a thickening agent and be added to both savory and sweet dishes. Though annually cultivated in tropical and subtropical regions, its use continues to expand along with its associated health benefits.
Tapioca Nutritional Facts
The starch found in the cassava root classifies tapioca as a carbohydrate source. The graph below shines light on just how much carbohydrate is offered. A half-cup of tapioca contains approximately 13 percent of daily caloric needs based on a 2,000 calorie per day diet. It is important to stay mindful of servings consumed, particularly if following a low-carb diet.
5 Tapioca Benefits
1. Heart Healthy
Though in small quantities, the fiber content may be able to reduce high cholesterol levels, especially when incorporated with other fiber-rich sources (whole grains, legumes and fresh fruit and veggies). Achieving and maintaining healthy cholesterol levels reduces the risk of heart disease, including heart attack and stroke. Tapioca also contains iron, a mineral essential for the formation of oxygen-containing blood, and folic acid, a mineral that assists in the development of red blood cells (and all new cells for that matter).
2. Promotes Cell Growth
Though the general population requires folic acid for critical body processes, its intake is imperative for pregnant women. Since folic acid helps the body produce new cells, providing folic acid to the fetus helps prevent major birth defects - folic acid is vital for a developing brain and spine. Women of childbearing years are encouraged to consume or supplement adequate amounts of folic acid (at least 400 micrograms each day), as neural tube defects can develop in the first three months of pregnancy.
3. Builds Strong Bones
Though commonly associated with milk products, tapioca also offers calcium. The mineral is imperative for strong, healthy bones and reduces the risk of osteoporosis and bone fractures. For those with lactose intolerance, tapioca is a great alternative for achieving calcium needs.
4. Gluten-Free Option
For those living with Celiac disease, gluten avoidance is the only known treatment to alleviate associated symptoms. The use of tapioca provides a gluten-free option for individuals following a gluten-free diet, as it can replace gluten-containing flours and thickeners. Having such options offers individuals a greater extent of gluten-free options without having to eliminate a wide-variety of foods.
5. Healthy Weight Gain
Though people tend to desire weight loss before weight gain, some underweight individuals may have trouble accumulating pounds. Several health conditions may hither individuals to gain weight while some athletes may be trying pack on "healthy" weight without increasing processed, energy-dense foods. Since tapioca is naturally calorically dense on its own, its use can enhance overall total calories without added oils and sugars.