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Tapioca is a starch extracted from cassava root. It consists of almost pure carbs and contains very little protein, fiber, or other nutrients.
Tapioca has recently become popular as a gluten-free alternative to wheat and other grains.
However, there’s a lot of controversy about it. Some claim it has numerous health benefits, while others say it’s harmful.
What is tapioca?
According to healthline, tapioca is a starch extracted from cassava root, a tuber native to South America.
The cassava root is relatively easy to grow and a dietary staple in several countries in Africa, Asia, and South America.
Tapioca is almost pure starch and has very limited nutritional value.
However, it’s naturally gluten-free, so it can serve as a wheat substitute in cooking and baking for people who are on a gluten-free diet.
Tapioca is a dried product and usually sold as white flour, flakes, or pearls.
How is it made?
Production varies by location but always involves squeezing starchy liquid out of ground cassava root.
Once the starchy liquid is out, the water is allowed to evaporate. When all the water has evaporated, a fine tapioca powder is left behind.
Next, the powder is processed into the preferred form, such as flakes or pearls.
Pearls are the most common form. They’re often used in bubble tea, puddings, and desserts and as a thickener in cooking.
Because they’re dehydrated, the flakes, sticks, and pearls must be soaked or boiled before consumption. They may double in size and become leathery, swollen, and translucent.
Tapioca flour is often mistaken for cassava flour, which is ground cassava root. However, tapioca is the starchy liquid that’s extracted from ground cassava root.
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