are tapioca pearls a safe starch (even when they contain no fiber?)

by 1776 · November 24, 2013 at 07:53 PM

tapioca pearls, made from yucca root/cassava, are (i think) considered a safe starch, but is eating them safe? 400cals/100g of them a day to fight infection ala PHD... when they contain no fiber? i'm just wondering.

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7 Replies

18373 · June 17, 2011 at 12:06 AM

Tapioca is considered a safe starch by the Jaminets, and since they are the coiners of the term, I would call that definitive.

7741 · June 17, 2011 at 01:46 AM

I don't have any factual answers for you but I will share. I have experienced excess tapioca pearl intake giving me lower abdominal pains followed by gas and diarrhea, several times. My friend has had the same experience once or twice. Maybe it's the fact that it's all carbs, no fiber? Carbs in general seem to speed up my digestion a lot.

In strict moderation, I have absolutely no problem (and I fricking love tapioca pearl! I make bubble tea all the time with the large, chewy black pearl). 100g is a lot of pearl - do you eat a lot of tapioca already? If not it couldn't hurt to start slow.

8185 · June 17, 2011 at 02:38 PM

I remember vacationing in Brazil years and years ago. One of the spots we stopped at was a farm where they showed how they made tapioca (touristy type thing). I don't remember much about it now, but the one thing I DO remember was the guy saying that they always had to be careful to process it correctly, otherwise they'd poison themselves.


Never really thought much about it though, until listening to Robb Wolf talking about how the plants don't really want to be eaten, so they have all these anti-nutrients in them. Linking the two, Cyanide poisoning DOES strike me as that plant doing its best not to be eaten. :)

Does that mean Tapioca's bad for you, no. But it's an interesting observation in terms of the whole Paleo outlook.

25189 · June 16, 2011 at 11:17 PM

Nope. The carb load in them is off the chain. Tapioca raises insulin like you can not believe. Go buy a glucometer and eat it and then check it at 15 min 30 min, and 1 hr. You will be shocked.

0 · November 24, 2013 at 07:52 PM

Re glucometer- the Jaminets go to pains to indicate that any safe starches are to be eaten in the context of a fat-rich (and possibly protein-rich and/or fiber-rich) meal with an acid-containing sauce - all measures taken to reduce the glycemic response.

518 · June 20, 2011 at 01:14 PM

This question is of particular interest to me because my wife is Taiwanese and she freakin' loves tapioca pearls. [geohistorical note: Bubble Tea was invented in Taiwan!] Can the original poster elaborate on the reason for eating tapioca balls? How is that much pure starch supposed to help fight infection? And what does PHD stand for? (I googled it of course but you try filtering out results with "PhD"!) Thanks!

1674 · June 17, 2011 at 10:45 AM

Tapioca might be Paleo by some strict definition, but I wouldn't think it would fit the spirit of Paleo. Aren't we about nutrient-dense foods? Cassava has virtually no nutritional value at all, except carb sugars. It can fill you up and give you an energy spike, but so can straight white sugar.

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