I recently had a question regarding Tapioca flour, is it Primal/Paleo and should we use it as part of our diet? So I did a little digging to try and get a consensus from our ancestral health community and make my own decision, there are mixed messages so here is my take.
Firstly what is Tapioca flour?
Tapioca is a starch extracted from cassava root. Cassava looks much like a large sweet potato
and goes through an extraction and bleaching process to remove the starch and turn it into the flour, so as we are trying to avoid any industrial processes it hints towards a no go.
However the end product is gluten free, grain free, dairy free and nut free so lends itself nicely to the rules of Primal/ Paleo eating.
Another negative is that it really doesn’t have any nutritional value and as we are trying to eat as nutrient dense food as possible so it doesn’t fit the bill there. Another option however is Cassava flour; this is derived from the Cassava root itself, rather than just the starch. It has minimal processing other than drying and grinding and has a greater nutritional value especially vitamin C. This is still low compared to other food types however.
One problem that does come up is as a starch it is high on the glycemic index, meaning that it raises your blood sugars quickly. This as we know is not good from a weight control point of view so something to be considered if this is a priority for you.
So considering all this, what side of the fence am I on?
If I was being strict I would say it’s not Primal/Paleo, our ancestors would not have eaten it in their diet in this form, although they may have eaten the cassava root in its whole form if they found it. But we could say the same for Coconut, Almond and any other nut flours that pass the grade.
As a substitute for grain based flour I would say fine, as it doesn’t have any of the problematic issues that come with grain flours. It also can work for people with nut allergies so giving another option for them.
To sum up, I wouldn’t make it a staple part of your diet as there are many other foods that have a much greater nutritional value. However if you are looking for an alternative flour for recipes it can certainly be an option for you, just keep in mind the carbohydrate level from a weight perspective.