Tapioca is a starchy substance harvested from the root of the cassava plant. The dry pellets or flakes turn into clear, jellylike balls when mixed with milk or other liquids. Tapioca is an interesting ingredient, but it is best saved for special occasions because it is not particularly nutritious.
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Tapioca is essentially pure carbohydrate. A cup has 544 calories with less than a gram of both fat and protein. By contrast, there are 134.8 grams of carbohydrates and 1.4 grams of sugar in the same serving. Tapioca has very little nutritional value. A 1/4-cup serving of tapioca pearls has a mere 8 milligrams of calcium, 3 milligrams of phosphorous and 4 milligrams of potassium. The quantities of other vitamins and minerals are miniscule.
Tapioca pearls, flakes or pellets are often cooked with milk and other ingredients to make a pudding. While a 4-ounce serving of prepared pudding offers a few grams of protein and approximately 10 times the amount of calcium, phosphorous and potassium as plain tapioca, it is also higher in fat and packs 16.4 grams of sugar.