In the last few years, tapioca has gained a lot of importance in the market due to its lack of gluten. We tell you where does it come from, what are its main advantages, disadvantages and how to cook it.
What is the tapioca?
You probably have heard about some small balls that are used in new recipes, specially desserts. However, tapioca has to come from somewhere, since the pearls are not directly extracted from any plant.
The tapioca is a starch that comes from the yuca root. But, do you know what a yuca is? It is actually a plant from Brazil, also known as mandioca or cassava. Actually, the plant also spread to South America, Africa, Asia and India. Nowadays, it is one of the most important crops due to its renowned properties.
The formats of tapioca have changed throughout the last few years, since it is available as flour or starch; it is also used as thickener.
What are the nutrients from tapioca?
More specially, it is a source of:
Moreover, it is completely gluten-free and sugar-free. Therefore, it is quite useful for healthy cooking and baking. That is why it is one of the most popular ingredients to cook new recipes, such as desserts or soups.
Tapioca and gluten
The relation between gluten and tapioca has been the reason why it has become popular lately. With the increasing popularity of gluten-free diets, tapioca flour has become a necessary product for many. Specially for those who are allergic to gluten and who also suffer celiac disease.
There are also others who follow different diets including this ingredient (such as the Paleo diet, FODMAP or the autoimmune protocol).
Recipes made with tapioca are easy to digest and tend to be advised for people who suffer digestive problems: celiac disease, gluten intolerance, allergy to walnuts or seeds, etc.
More benefits of tapioca
But these are not the only advantages of tapioca…
- Its neutral flavor allows us to use it in many ways, such as cooking tapioca soup, desserts or many other recipes.
- Its iron supply is a great ally against anemia.
- Moreover, it provides oxygen to the cells of the human body, apart from improving the blood flow.
- Due to its calcium content, it lowers the risk of suffering osteoporosis.
- Tapioca adapts to the life and routine of athletes, enhancing the physical performance due to its protein and vitamin content.
Despite all its advantages or benefits, we also need to bear in mind that a bad use of this ingredient can also cause side effects.
The yuca plant also contains cyanide, which is why it is advisable to prepare or cook it properly.
Tapioca flour is an alternative to traditional wheat flours, replacing conventional flours and even those made of walnuts or almonds.
Above all, this product has many uses for health cooking, since it does not contain gluten nor other unwanted ingredients.
But we need to be able to distinguish the renowned tapioca flour and mandioca flour. In principle, there should not be a big difference between one and the other, since both flours come from the same plant: the yuca.
The more processed the flour is, the better. The ideal thing would be to extract the starch from the yuca root through a repetitive process that washes and removes the pulp from this blend. Consequently, we will manage to separate the liquid from the root without needing additives or further steps.
Probably, the mandioca flour is easier to digest. This is specially interesting for those who have a sensitive digestive system, since it has less pure starch.
Where can I buy tapioca?
Nowadays, you can find tapioca products in many shops or specialized stores.
These are some of the different formats available and its different advantages. Don’t forget that they are all gluten-free:
- Flour: common ingredient for baking.
- Starch: soluble powder used to thicken sauces and to absorb liquids.
- Pearls: they dissolve easily in hot water.
- Flakes: available either in thin or thick flakes.
How to make tapioca
We encourage you to use this ingredient, as long as you follow all the precautions when it comes to its safe use.
- Ogata F, Nagai N, Ueta E, Nakamura T, Kawasaki N. Biomass Potential of Virgin and Calcined Tapioca (Cassava Starch) for the Removal of Sr(II) and Cs(I) from Aqueous Solutions. Chem Pharm Bull (Tokyo). 2018;66(3):295-302. doi: 10.1248/cpb.c17-00873.
- Huang J, Wei M, Ren R, Li H, Liu S, Yang D. Morphological changes of blocklets during the gelatinization process of tapioca starch. Carbohydr Polym. 2017 May 1;163:324-329. doi: 10.1016/j.carbpol.2017.01.083. Epub 2017 Jan 23.
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