You must have heard or read somewhere that Tapioca is a great alternative to gluten-based flours. If you are health conscious and allergic to gluten, then this may have struck you for a second. This “being gluten-free statement” means that you can enjoy your favorite food items without worrying about possible side effects.
So, Is Tapioca gluten free, or is it a sham claim?
Yes, it is true that Tapioca does not contain gluten. It contains a high amount of starch only, thus making it an excellent choice for healthier desserts and bakery items.
But there is something more you should know about Tapioca before you include it in your Kitchen cabinet. Read on to know everything there is to know about Tapioca.
Table of Content
Why Is There No Gluten In Tapioca?
Gluten is present in those flours that are made from the grains (like wheat, barley, oats, corn, etc.). People also ask, Is Tapioca a grain? No, it is not. Since Tapioca is not made from any grain, it does not contain gluten.
You might now be wondering, if Tapioca is not grain flour, then how is it made?
How Is Tapioca Made?
It is flour made from the extract of Cassava’s plant. This plant is not new for north & south Americans and Africans. It is a staple food for thousands of people living on these continents.
First, the roots of cassava plants are peeled, then they are pressed, boiled, and then “processed” to make the flour. Here’s the complete procedure:
- Different companies have different production levels, but all begin by getting rid of excessive starchy liquid from the roots via gentle pressing and peeling.
- Then the roots are boiled, and the evaporation is done.
- After the evaporation, a fine Tapioca powder will be left.
- The processing is done, and now forms of this flour can be changed to pearl or flakes.
The pearls or flakes will then have little moisture. So, they must be put in water or boiled before adding them to cook food. But you have to be careful as they expand in size after water absorption.
Generally, the ratio of pearls to water is One part Tapioca pearls to eight-part water. Boil the water, and don’t let the pearls stay at the bottom. Keep stirring until the Tapioca pearls start to float. Then, turn the stove off, cover the pan and let it sit for almost half an hour. You might be wondering, Are Tapioca pearls gluten-free too? Yes, they are (just like the Tapioca flour).
People often ask, Is tapioca starch the same as tapioca flour? Tapioca flour and tapioca starch are the same things with different names.
Want to know how tapioca tastes?
What Does Tapioca Taste Like?
Tapioca tastes a little sweet. However, the starch content in this flour is more, so only a little amount is enough in baking or cooking. For a more delish dish, you can combine tapioca flour with other non-gluten flours. Want to know which are non-gluten flours in addition to Tapioca? Generally, brown rice flour and quinoa flour are added, which are gluten-free.
What Are The Uses of Tapioca?
One question people search the most regarding Tapioca is- Is Tapioca good for baking? Absolutely Yes, Tapioca is liked by chefs due to its crispiness. The crust of these items becomes crunchy, which feels great when you take a bite.
Tapioca flour is also an excellent binding agent. It is added to many foods, including burgers and nuggets, to retain moisture and reduce sogginess.
Moreover, People in Africa make flatbread using tapioca flour. This flatbread is the staple food for these people, and they eat it with every meal.
Tapioca is also used to increase the thickness of food items like
- Ice creams
- Bubble tea
Tapioca pearls are added to the pudding to make it more delish. You might be thinking- Is tapioca pudding gluten-free? Yes, it is.
In addition to this, Chefs add it to replace cornstarch, which can increase blood sugar levels, cause diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases. Moreover, Tapioca is better at thawing and freezing than cornstarch. But is Tapioca flour really healthy?
Is Tapioca Healthy?
Since Tapioca is low in proteins and has almost no fiber, people don’t prefer to add it regularly. Tapioca is also deprived of any vital nutrients and minerals.
Tapioca Nutritional Content
Tapioca contains a high amount of carbs, with very low amounts of fiber and protein. 1/4 cup of tapioca flour has the following nutritional value:
|Proteins||Less than 1g|
But still, you can enjoy some Tapioca’s health benefits.
Cassava roots contain resistant starch that has clinically proven benefits. The benefits you can enjoy from tapioca flour due to the resistant starch are:
- Reduction in inflammation
- Reduce blood sugar levels
- Improve insulin response
- Increase glucose levels
Now, it is time for you to know why Tapioca is bad for some people.
Harmful Effects of Tapioca?
Is Tapioca bad for health? Well, Tapioca is not healthy for everyone. Although it is an excellent alternative to grain-based flours in bakery items, however, some of you may face health complications.
Proper processing of cassava roots is important to avoid any health complications. There is a toxic element found in the cassava root called Linamarin, which stays in the flour if the processing is not done right.
When a person consumes such food made of this improperly processed Tapioca, poisoning is bound to happen. The linamarin is converted into hydrogen cyanide in the body which is extremely harmful to humans.
Improperly processed linamarin can also cause a paralytic disease known as Konzo, and even death can occur from it. In Africa, people have died due to Konzo in the past, and the reason was improperly processed Cassava.
But you don’t have to worry about it as commercially manufactured Tapioca does not contain high linamarin levels.
Not for Diabetics
People ask us, Is Tapioca good for diabetics? No, it is not. Although it does improve the insulin response, the carbs in it make it unhealthy for those suffering from diabetes.
Some people have been found allergic to Cassava. The thing of concern is that most of the people (including you) do not know whether they are allergic to Cassava or not. However, if you are allergic to latex, chances are you might be allergic to Cassava, too, due to the cross-reactivity. Those who are allergic will face some side effects (like sore throat, vomiting, rashes, etc.) after eating a food with tapioca flour.
Is Tapioca Gluten Free?
Yes, all Tapioca extracted safely is gluten-free. However, some new or smaller companies may not take extra precautions regarding the gluten content. So, we suggest you buy Tapioca from a reputable company that specifically mentions “Gluten-Free” on the label.
This flour is indeed a blessing for those who have gluten allergies and want to just enjoy delicious bakery and food items.
Question: Is Tapioca flour and Cassava flour the Same?
Answer: No, it is the most common misconception found in people. Cassava flour is made just by making a powder of cassava roots. Contrarily, squeezing of starch, boiling, and processing is done to make a tapioca flour or tapioca starch.
Question: What is Expandex modified tapioca starch?
Answer: Expandex is also a gluten-free starch that is tasteless and odorless. Hence, chefs add it to increase the crispness of food without causing any changes in the taste or smell. The reason why it was named Expandex is that it expands the bakery item in size. On top of this, Expandex also helps in moisture retention, which is super important as generally gluten-free flours don’t do this. Moreover, Just like Tapioca, Expandex can be used as a thickener in pies, pasta, and soup.
Question: Is Tapioca Dairy free?
Answer: Yes, since there is no involvement of animals, Tapioca is considered dairy-free. But you can add this flour to the dairy to make desserts.
Tapioca is made from the extract of Cassava roots and processed into flour and pearls. These are added to any desserts and bakery items to enhance taste and crunchiness. But the question is, Is Tapioca gluten-free?
Yes, Tapioca is gluten-free since it is not made from any grains. It is specifically a blessing for those who are allergic to gluten. But it is not very nutritious, so how much you want it to become part of your diet is up to you.