Sabudana Khichdi, Sabudana vada, and Sabudana kheer are the most common snack and breakfast recipes in Indian houses. Sabudana a very popular name among Indian food enthusiasts. This is not a newly introduced superfood in the market but it is used by our ancestors for a long time. Our ancestors have used Sabudana for therapeutic purposes to treat stomach ailments. In the quest to adopt western culture and buy imported superfoods we sometimes forget the gems of our native Indian Superfoods. Sabudana is one such forgotten non-cereal food that has amazing health benefits.
This humble food, Sabudana is an integral part of Fasting Food in India. In Ayurveda, Sabudana is considered as an important ingredient in their sattvik diet. They are converted into various delicacies both savory and sweet and very much enjoyed by all.
What is Sabudana?
Sabudana is the starch extract of Tapioca Roots, internationally known as Cassava. It is ready to cook agricultural food product. The starch extract of tapioca roots is used as Flour, Flakes, and little edible Pearls popularly known as Sabudana or Tapioca Pearls.
In India, Tapioca cultivation started around 1940s.In India, the first production of sabudana started in 1943-1944 in Salem (TamilNadu) manually. Now it is widely cultivated in Andhra Pradesh, TamilNadu, and Kerala. With the advancement of technology, many types of machinery are used now for the process flow production of Sabudana. The cassava/ Tapioca root is relatively easy to grow and a dietary staple in several countries in Africa, Asia, and South America.
ICAR – Central Tuber Crops Research Institute (Thiruvananthapuram) and Sagoserve Testing Laboratories (Salem) are researching the quality testing of Sabudana.
Sabudana is called as Tapioca pearls in English, Saggubiyam in Telugu, Kappa in Malayalam, Javarasi in Tamil, Sagu/Sabur in Bengali. (1)
How Sabudana is made?
Sabudana is made from the starch of Cassava or Tapioca plant roots.
Tapioca Roots are Cleaned, peeled, and crushed to extract the starch. The starch will be allowed to settle in big tanks. Any residual impurity formed will float on the mixture in the tank. The residues are later drained out. The water is later evaporated.
Once concentration settles down, they make small pearl balls bypassing them in different sieves. The globules are roasted on hot pans or steamed. They are then dried under sunlight for a few days on huge platforms before packing them. (2)
Nutritional Value of Sabudana
All the values are per 100 grams of the edible portion of Tapioca Pearl, dry. (3)
|NUTRITIONAL PARAMETERS||Sabudana Nutrient Values|
|Total Omega -3 fatty acids||1.0mg|
|Total Omega -6 fatty acids||2.0mg|
Sabudana contains pure starch so it mainly contains carbohydrates with minor amount of Fats and Proteins. The other nutrients present are also found in traces lesser than 0.1% of the recommended daily amount in one serving except Zinc (11% of the Reference Daily Intake).
Amazing Health Benefits Of Sabudana
- Gluten-Free :
Gluten is a family of protein found in many grains like Wheat, Barley, and Rye. Sometimes when Gluten is consumed it can cause severe digestive disorder in Gluten Intolerant individuals. It is most common in an autoimmune disease called Celiac Disease where individuals show allergic reactions towards Gluten in their diet. This allergic response damage the intestinal tissues. Symptoms for gluten allergy are Sharp pain in Stomach, Constipation, Diarrhoea, Bloating, skin Rashes, Anaemia, and Fatigue. Complete elimination of gluten and gluten products is a must in such cases.
Sabudana is a naturally gluten-free and delicious option for people looking for gluten-free ingredients. It is a very pocket friendly compared to many non- gluten grains. It can be used for baking, cooking, and as a thickener for making soups & sauces. It is also advisable to take good amounts of lean proteins, vegetables, and fruits in your diet to keep your tummy happy and have a healthy lifestyle. (4) (5) (6) (7)
- Improves Gut Health :
Sabudana mainly consists of Resistant Starch, which functions like fiber in the digestive system. Resistant starch resists digestion, without any change, they pass through the stomach and small intestine and reach the colon. It functions like fermentable and soluble fiber in the colon. Gut friendly bacteria feed on this and produce many byproducts like gases and short-chain fatty acids like Butyrate.
Butyrate is the fuel for the cells that line the Colon. It reduces pH levels and reduces inflammation which further lowers the risk of colorectal cancer. They also prove beneficial for individuals with Irritable Bowel Diseases, like, Ulcerative Colitis, Crohn’s disease, Diverticulitis, Constipation, and Diarrhoea.
The short-chain fatty acids which are not used by Colon Cells travel into the bloodstream and rest of body organs and provide many health benefits. Resistant Starch also helps in the absorption of minerals. Further research is going on the benefits of resistant starch in humans.
Boost of Energy :
Sabudana is a champion when it comes to non-cereal carbohydrate-rich foods. Its health benefits are mainly from the carbohydrates it provides. 100 grams of carbohydrates provide around 350 KCal. Sabudana is full of starch and is great for a quick boost of energy, and hence often served in breakfast to kick start the day in many places of India.
In Upavas or Fasting people avoid Rice and Wheat in their diet and opt for alternate grains for energy. Sabudana is considered as the Best Fasting food as it provides energy throughout the day.
It has enough energy to combat the weakness and ailments your body has just undergone. Also, they can be safely had by any individual – irrespective of their age. It is easy to cook and easy on the tummy as well. It can also be taken in Jaundice as it is easy to digest and low residue food. But, it has to be cooked with very less or no oil in the case of Jaundice. (11) (12)
Best Summer coolant :
As the heat rises, your digestive system becomes slower and weaker leading to numerous digestive problems. Our stomachs react differently when there’s a change of season. Dehydration, heat exhaustion, Urinary Tract Infections, mouth ulcers, stroke, food poisoning, and loss of appetite are common problems in the hot months. It is very important to include food items that have cooling properties in the body.
Cooling food items has a cooling effect inside our body which in turn has an impact on our metabolism and digestion. Sabudana is very light on the stomach and has a cooling effect on the digestive system. So Sabudana is considered as best Summer food.
PS: Hydration is the most important factor during summers to protect ourselves from summer spells. If you feel an increase in thirst, heat, and other symptoms it indicates that the body needs more water and fluids. Include lots of fluids and exclude Junk Foods in summer to protect ourselves from Dehydration and other side effects. (13)
- Best Pre or post-workout drink
The ample intake of carbohydrates ensures you have access to the energy needed for exercise. It also helps maintain mental sharpness for endurance sports. In general, at least 50% of your daily energy intake would come from carbohydrates, 35% or less would come from fats, and the remainder would come from proteins.
For athletes, the proportion may need to be adjusted to accommodate the increased energy needs, increasing carbohydrates to 60%, while decreasing fats to 30% or less.
As Sabudana is a good source of carbs so consuming it before or during exercise may prolong endurance activity, while consuming it after exercise may enhance your body’s ability to recover from the wear and tear of exercise.Have it like khichdi after workout or Porridge before workout as per your comfort.
To maintain energy, eat carbohydrates before and after intense exercise. It is equally important to eat a balanced diet with the appropriate proportion of carbs, proteins, and healthy fats. (14)
Eat Sabudana in the right way
- As we saw Sabudana is rich in carbohydrates and lacks other important nutrients it is a must that we mix it with other ingredients to make it more nutritious.
- Overnight soaking is a must to bring out the best from Sabudana. You can dry roast the pearls and make it a powder that can be used as a thickening agent or binding agent.
- Sabudana is a versatile ingredient which can be roasted, powdered, baked, fermented and boiled.You can use it in many cuisines as it can be used in many forms and be delicious at the same time.
- Avoid consuming them as deep-fried fritters or puri for better health, instead, try following recipes.
1.Sabudana Khichdi :
This is a delicious main course recipe, which you can prepare for your loved ones without putting in many efforts. Sabudana Khichadi makes for a perfect Vrat/Upvas recipe, which can be savored on festivals like Navratri and Shivratri. Added Potatoes, green chilies, Peanuts, Turmeric and cumin seeds, coriander enhances its nutritional value.
2.Sabudana Kheer :
This amazing Indian dessert is full of energy and carbohydrates. It is a wholesome diet of its own. Added milk, Sugar, a pinch of cardamom powder, roasted dry fruits like cashews& raisins, pumpkin seeds enhance the nutritional value. If you want it vegan style replace milk with coconut milk. To make it more healthy you can replace sugar with Jaggery.
3. Sabudana Jaava :
This is the most refreshing summer drink. It can be consumed during stomach upset like diarrhea etc. 2 spoons of soaked sabudana is boiled in 1 glass of water. Boil until the sabudana gets soft. Add half glass milk, jaggery/misri, and pre-soaked sabja seeds. It is regularly consumed in south India during summers. During diarrhea and other gastric ailments, this Jaava immediately brings energy to the body. The taste of this jaava suppresses nausea and increases appetite slowly.
Avoid Milk and Sabja seeds during stomach upset.
4. Sabudana Idly :
This can be made without grinding. Soak Sabudana and Idly Ravva with sour curd and little water. Keep this to ferment overnight and make hot idly’s next day for breakfast along with tomato Pudina chutney.
5. Sabudana Thaalipeeth/Rotti :
This is pan baked bread made with soaked Sabudana, boiled potatoes, grated carrots, peanut powder, coconut powder, and coriander leaves. This goes well with curd and pickle.
6. Sabudana Vada:
Sabudana Vada is a Maharashtrian delicacy made with sago, mashed potatoes, ground peanuts, chilies, and cumin seeds. All the ingredients are mixed, rolled into small balls, and then fried into crispy and relish the fritters. Served with a sweet, and spicy yogurt chutney these fritters are sure to tickle your taste buds. If you want to avoid deep-fried, make it in Paniyaram Pan or Air Fryer.
7. Sabudana Papad:
This is one of the easiest papad recipes anyone can make. Just boil pre-soaked Sabudana with little jeera and rock salt, sun dry it, and store it in an airtight container once dried. Deep fry them before eating.
FAQ on Sabudana
1) Is Sabudana an empty calorie food?
Ans: Yes, With rich in carbohydrates and lack of other macro and micronutrients Sabudana is considered as an empty calorie food. But, it can be mixed with many other healthy ingredients to make it a nutritious dish. Sabudana has a bland taste and can be easily blended with sweet and savory dishes.
If you are vegan and trying baking with Sabudana Flour then you must mix some almond or coconut flour to make it a more healthy option.
2) Does Sabudana aids in weight loss?
Ans: Resistant starch gives fewer calories when compared to regular starch,i.e, 2 Vs 4 calories per gram. Also, it brings satiety and keeps us full for a longer time. Sabudana can be included once in a while for a change in moderation during weight loss journey.
3) Does Sabudana aids in weight gain?
Ans: Yes, if you are recovering from extended illness or injury, including sabudana in your diet will help to regain the lost weight as it is rich in calories.100 grams of sabudana gives you around 350 kcalories. It is also light on the stomach and can be digested immediately patients recovering from longtime illness can absorb the calories easily.
Like weight loss weight gain is also a gradual process and includes many other factors. So have patience!
Countries, where there is a high rate of malnourishment sabudana, is the cheapest way to replenish the calories. Experiments are being conducted to make fortified Sabudana Flour with soybean flour to make it more nutritious.
4) Is Sabudana safe for Diabetics ?
Ans: Sabudana is having high carbohydrate content and can lead to increased blood sugar levels. Based on your HbA1c levels, you can eat it in moderation. However, add lots of Fiber-rich vegetables in it or have a salad with it, to increase the fiber content of the overall meal leading to a moderate increase in blood sugar levels.
However if your HbA1c value is more than 6, you must avoid Sabudana and other carbohydrate-rich foods. If you are someone with frequent glucose fluctuation then you must consult your doctor and dietitian before including Sabudana.
Let us compare the Glycemic Index of various Flours to get a clear picture. (15)
|FLOUR NAME||GLYCEMIC INDEX|
|Brown Rice Flour||62|
PS: Glycemic Index :
The Glycemic index ranks foods containing carbohydrates from 0 to 100. Depending on how fast it will raise your blood sugar will matter in relation to the Glycemic Index of the foods.
Low GI – 55 (or less) ; Medium GI – 56-69; High GI – 70 (or more). People with diabetes should opt for low GI food items.
5) Is Sabudana safe for Heart patients?
Ans: Blood cholesterol and Triglycerides are the main culprits for Heart Diseases. Sabudana has zero cholesterol and a very negligible amount of fat making it a good option for heart patients. Please take care while cooking it and not add too much oil and calorie-dense ingredients. Also, it has some amounts of potassium as well which is important for many heart functions.
6) Is Sabudana safe for babies?
Ans: Sabudana is safe for babies above 9 months. Always practice 3 days trial when introducing new food to your baby. Start with 1 teaspoon of Sabudana to see how the baby takes it and observe for any stomach upset or allergic reactions. Gradually you can increase accordingly. Initially dry roast the sabudana and make a powder of it. Introduce it as Jaava or porridge rather than the whole pearl to avoid choking etc. Do consult with your pediatrician before introducing any new food to your child.
7) Is Sabudana Safe for Pregnant women?
Ans: Sabudana is completely safe for pregnant women. It can reduce excess heat in the body which may cause leg cramps and body pains in pregnant women. It also has some amount of folate which helps during pregnancy. However, if you are having gestational diabetes, sudden weight gain or any other health issues during pregnancy consult your gynecologist before including sabudana.
8) How much Sabudana is safe to consume?
Ans: There is no hard and fast rule regarding the consumption of Sabudana. You can take it daily if it is part of your culture or once/twice a week. Moderation and portion control is the key to good health. Include sabudana in moderation to your diet for good health. Also, try to include a variety of grains, vegetables, and fruits in your diet for overall good health. Mother earth has blessed us with so many things to explore in the foods that do not stick to any particular food for a long time. Always prefer naturally grown foods over processed and packaged food.
9) Are there any side effects of Sabudana?
Ans: a) Cassava roots or Tapioca Roots contains a toxic compound called Linamarin. This gets converted to hydrogen Cyanide in the body and cause cyanide poisoning. This can be resulted due to poor processing of the roots to make the pearls. This cyanide poisoning may cause a paralytic disease called Kenzo and eventually death. During the world war, there was a Kenzo epidemic in African countries due to consuming poorly processed Sabudana.
Advancements in the laboratory testing helped to check the proper processing of Sabudana. Hence, most of the commercially available Sabudana nowadays are free of Linamarin.
b) As such there are no allergic reactions documented due to Sabudana. But in some individuals who are allergic to Latex, there is a cross-reaction when sabudana is consumed. This means the body mistakes sabudana as the latex and causes an allergic reaction which is known as Latex-Fruit Syndrome. (16) (17) (18) (19) (20)
10) How to shop for good quality Sabudana?
Ans: Before buying sabudana keep an eye for any insect infestation, live/dead insects, dirt, extraneous matter, added coloring agent, visible mold growth, bleaching whitening agents, or optical whiteners, other sweetening agents or any other adulterant before cooking the sago. It increases the risk of health hazards.
Simple Test: Chew some sago, if it gives you a gritty feeling, it is adulterated. Also, burn the sago, if it swells it is pure and won’t leave any ash behind, otherwise it would leave a good amount of ash.
Always choose authentic organically processed Sabudana over chemically processed one. Store it in an airtight and dry glass Jar.
11) Is Sabudana/Tapioca pearls are same as Sago?
Ans: Sago is an edible starch that is made from the pith of an array of tropical palm trees. It’s a staple food in parts of the tropics. Sabudana/ Tapioca pearls, on the other hand, are made with tapioca or the starch from cassava, a root crop. Sago and Tapioca look the same small, white, opaque pearls that become transparent when boiled. They may be used interchangeably in some recipes. The nutritional value for both is also similar.
Sabudana is an extract from Tapioca or cassava roots. This plant extracted white pearls that are rich in Carbohydrates. It is a great option for people looking for gluten-free food. This is an energy-rich food which also helps to improve gut health. It is famous as fasting or Upvas food in India as it keeps full for the whole day with a good energy level. Eat it in the right way to get maximum health benefits from Sabudana. It is pocket friendly, around 110 rupees per 1 kg in India. Why use them only during fasting/Upvas when it is available all around the year, instead use them once or twice a week on a regular basis. Always prefer foods that are natural and organically available around us. Sabudana is one such native humble food you all must consider to include in your diet. Eat healthily and Live long!!