healthy nutrition

What is tapioca? Here you can find out everything about the trendy ingredient!

You may know tapioca as an ingredient in a sweet pudding, but this gluten-free starch can be used as a binder in both sweet and salty dishes. Tapioca is obtained from the roots of the cassava plant, also known as yuca or cassava. Originally from Brazil, the cultivation of the crop has spread to all of South America and Africa, while the starch (tapioca) obtained from it has become popular all over the world. Read on to find out more about this trending ingredient!

Fast facts on tapioca

What is tapioca starch and where does it come from

use: For thickening soups, stews, sauces or to add moisture and texture to baked goods. Eisatz also finds tapioca starch in cosmetics, e.g. to improve the viscosity of creams, gels and lotions.

characteristics: Gluten-free, tasteless

species: Pearls, flakes and flour

costs: Inexpensive and widely available, prices for 500g tapioca starch vary between € 6 and € 10

What is tapioca?

Tapioca starch is made from cassava roots

Tapioca has a neutral taste and strong gelling power. Unlike corn starch, tapioca starch can survive cycles of freezing and thawing without losing its gel structure, making it an ideal binder for ice cream.

Nutritional values

Since tapioca starch consists of almost 100 percent carbohydrates and is considered fat and protein-free. It’s interesting that tapioca pearls are tons of calories and minerals, even though the starch is almost devoid of nutritional value.

Nutritional information according to the USDA per 1 tablespoon of tapioca starch (10 g):

Calories 30 kcal

Protein 0 g

Fat 0 g

Carbohydrates 7 g

Sodium 24 mg

Nutritional information according to the USDA per 100 g of dried tapioca pearls:

Calories: 358 kcal

Fat: 0.02 g

Sodium: 1 mg

Carbohydrates: 88.7 g

Dietary fiber: 0.9 g

Sugar: 3.35 g

Protein: 0.2 g

Calcium, approx. 20 mg

Iron, Fe 1.58 mg

Magnesium, Mg 1 mg

Phosphorus, P. 7 mg

Potassium, K. 11 mg

Sodium, Na 1 mg

Zinc, Zn 0.12 mg

small dry tapioca pearls white

Tapioca pearls are very high in carbohydrates and contain almost 89 grams of carbohydrates per 100 grams.The majority of the carbohydrates in tapioca come from starch. Just under one gram comes from fiber and 3.35 grams from sugar. When you consume tapioca pearls as bubble tea or pudding, you are consuming extra sugar, so the carbohydrate count is even higher. Boba tea is usually sweetened with honey or brown sugar.

Is tapioca gluten free and therefore ideal for people with gluten intolerance. It can also be used to bake delicious rolls and cakes. In the recipes, make sure that tapioca flour and tapioca starch are one and the same product.

Tapioca is a food with a very high glycemic index. The estimated glycemic load for a 100 gram serving of tapioca pearls is 94. The glycemic load takes the serving size into account when estimating the effects of a food on blood sugar. Tapioca is more likely to do that unsuitable for diabetics.

Tapioca pudding with coconut milk and mango

Just like potato starch, corn starch and rice starch, tapioca starch comes with one Histamine intolerance well tolerated. No complaints are to be expected with the usual consumption.

Tapioca pearls can be one good source of iron because they contain 1.58 mg of the mineral. The recommended intake of the nutrient varies based on age and gender. Adolescents and adults, for example, should consume between 10 and 15 mg of iron per day.

Tapioca pearls and tapioca flour are not a good source of other vitamins or minerals. For example, several sources of information claim that tapioca consumption is good for building bones and teeth. They cite the fact that tapioca provides calcium. According to USDA data, there is only 20 mg of the mineral in 100 g of tapioca pearls. The German Nutrition Society recommends 1000 mg calcium per day for adults. So even if you eat a full serving of tapioca pearls, you’re only getting 2% of your recommended daily allowance.

What is tapioca good for??

Gluten-free diet without wheat products

Useful for people with allergies

Is tapioca gluten-free and grain-free. People with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity can use this flour to make bread and other baked goods (in combination with other gluten-free flours). It is also an alternative to white flour for thickening soups, sauces and cake fillings. The flour is too vegetarian and vegan and is commonly used by people following a paleo diet or an autoimmune protocol diet (AIP).

Gluten-free diet without wheat products

Can promote intestinal health

Tapioca is a source of resistant starch that passes through the stomach and small intestine undigested. Instead, the starch is fermented in the large intestine and serves as a food source for the healthy intestinal bacteria. Resistant starch made from tapioca is type 4, which means various chemical processes are used to make it indigestible.

Tapioca is known to be stomach-friendly and easier to digest than nut and grain flours. Tapioca can be recommended as a source of calories and energy for digestive problems caused by conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome and diverticulitis. It can also be used for ulcers and other stomach problems or during the recovery period after an operation.

May help prevent iron deficiency anemia

Iron deficiency anemia is common in women of childbearing potential and in children in some countries. It can lead to health problems, including birth defects, infant mortality, impaired cognitive function, and poor immunity. A single serving of tapioca pearls contains 1.58 mg of iron.

In the United States, the recommended daily allowances for iron vary based on gender and age. Women aged 19 to 50 should consume 18 mg daily. A serving of tapioca would cover almost 9% of your daily needs. However, women over 51 years and men over 19 years only need 8 mg daily. For these people, one serving of tapioca pearls provides almost 20% of the recommended daily allowance.

Starchy foods are sometimes recommended to increase the amount of milk available when breastfeeding

May promote breast milk production

Starchy foods are sometimes recommended to increase the amount of milk available when breastfeeding. Tapioca is a complex carbohydrate that is an excellent source of starch and energy. Some studies report that cassava is widely used to increase breast milk production by women in some parts of the world. However, it is not known whether tapioca provides the same benefits specifically for breastfeeding mothers.

Side effects

Cassava manioc root processed into tapioca

For the most part, tapioca does not cause any adverse effects when properly prepared and in moderation. However, there are some concerns when cassava is improperly processed or when tapioca is consumed in excess.

Cyanide poisoning

Tapioca (manioc), like some other plant-based foods, contains cyanogenetic glycosides, which release cyanide in the body. This can lead to high neurotoxicity. Some deaths and non-fatal toxicity in children have been reported in areas such as Nigeria and Uganda. Symptoms of non-fatal toxicity include drowsiness, weakness, and vomiting.

Processing raw cassava for tapioca pearls or flour should reduce the cyanide content. However, in April 2019, the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control reported 98 cases with two deaths following suspected cyanide poisoning from cassava flour in western Uganda. However, the agency acknowledged that cyanide poisoning from cassava flour is rare and that proper processing (soaking, drying, and peeling) can detoxify the cassava root.

Bubble tea or Boba tea is popular in Taiwan

Can promote obesity

Bubble tea or Boba tea was originally mainly consumed in Taiwan. But in recent years its popularity has increased and now there are bubble tea shops in the US and Europe. The pre-sweetened pearls are sold in stores and online.

With the increased consumption of bubble tea, some nutritionists are increasingly concerned about the potential health effects. In particular, they fear that it can affect the obesity rate.

Tapioca allergy

There have been isolated cases of cassava root allergies, including 2003 in Mozambique, 2004 in Brazil and 2007 in Spain. Cassava allergies have been shown to induce anaphylactic reactions and are believed to be associated with latex allergies. However, more extensive studies are needed to confirm this association. If you have an allergy to cassava root, you shouldn’t consume tapioca.

Sweets should be consumed in moderation during pregnancy

Tapioca in pregnancy

Starchy foods are high in carbohydrates and can have a significant impact on blood sugar. One problem many women face during pregnancy is gestational diabetes. This is a type of diabetes that occurs during pregnancy and most often goes away after the pregnancy ends. However, it is possible to reduce the risk of gestational diabetes by following a healthy diet and gaining moderate weight. A small study from 2009 showed that women with gestational diabetes who followed a Glyx diet, that is, eating foods with a low glycemic index, decreased their insulin needs compared to women who ate foods with a high GI. People who limit their carbohydrate consumption or are concerned about how starches affect blood sugar levels may find tapioca unhealthy. The aforementioned cyanide poisoning can also be harmful to both mother and baby.

What types of tapioca are there?

Saku Sai Moo tapioca dumplings

Tapioca starch can be bought in the form of flour or instant flakes; it is opaque before cooking, but becomes translucent when hydrated. Tapioca pearls and tapioca powder are mostly white or off-white, but the pearls, which are commonly used in desserts, can be dyed almost any color. Tapioca pearls come in large and small sizes. Boba are large, sweetened pearls that are often dyed black and used for bubble tea.

Tapioca is most commonly sold in pearl form, which can range in size from 1 millimeter to 8 millimeters in diameter. Smaller tapioca pearls are typically used in pudding, while the larger pearls are typically used in boba tea. It is also sold in flakes and powders, which are commonly used to thicken sauces, soups, or sauces.


Tapioca starch is a dry product and will stay fresh indefinitely as long as it is stored in a tightly closed container to prevent exposure to heat, moisture, and bugs. Do not store tapioca in the fridge or freezer.

Tapioca usage

Use tapioca flour to thicken soups

You can use tapioca flour or flakes to thicken foods like soups, gravy, or broth-based sauces. It can also add texture to baked goods and be used as a binder in meat recipes (like meatballs or meatloaf). It has a neutral taste that easily fits into sweet and savory recipes. Tapioca flour is a common ingredient in gluten-free recipes.

What can you replace tapioca with??

Arrowroot and potato starch are suitable alternatives to tapioca starch because they share many properties. You can use wheat flour to thicken a sauce instead of tapioca, but this is how gluten is added to the food. Corn starch can also be used as a substitute for tapioca, especially in milk-based sauces, but keep in mind that it adds cloudiness to a liquid, while tapioca adds a shiny finish. This is especially desirable for cake icings.

Thicken the thin vegetable soup with tapioca flour