by Marshaneil Soumi D’ Rozario | 08 JAN 2018
Sago or Sabudana is a popular staple food consumed widely. It is a ready to cook agricultural food product. Sabudana is considered to be an optimal source of nutrition. It is a common practice in India to use sabudana as a favourite form of nutrition for infants and sick person. People incorporate sago in their diets during various fasts. Sabudana is also used in a variety of dishes such as desserts like “Kheer”. It is also readily consumed in dishes like Khichadi , vada, bonda. The sole raw material used for manufacturing Sabudana is “tapioca root” internationally known as “cassava”. Harmful chemicals like like calcium hypochlorite, phosphoric acid, and sodium hypochlorite are used for bleaching, while processing tapioca to sago starch and the latter to pearls. The chemically produced sago can head towards adverse health issues such as cancer and kidney diseases.
Q.1 Does Chemically produced sago/ sabudana sold widely in India? How does one know that the sabudana is chemically made?
The state of Tamil Nadu is the highest producer of sago. Ninety percent of the total production of sago in the southern state is consumed in various cities across Maharashtra, inclusive of Mumbai, Pune, Nashik and Nagpur. Ten to 15 percent of it is consumed in Madhya Pradesh. Sago is a widely sold product all across India.
Sago should always be produced in an organic way. It needs to be tested in a referral lab to check if there are signs of adulteration. It should be tested in a lab and then it can go for selling in the market. The Chemicals commonly used in Sago processing are:
Artificial Whitening Agents
2-B- Con or Tinopal
Consumers should keep an eye for any insect infestation, live/dead insects, dirt, extraneous matter,added coloring matter, visible mould 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.
Q.3 How can you identify a natural sabudana?
According to certain adulterants, by some simple tests they can identify the chemicals added to sago. 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 an ash behind, otherwise it would leave a good amount of ash.
Q.4 Tamil Nadu farmers, stated that chemically manufactured sabudana or adulterated sabudana is sold in Indian markets. Given this how will it affect the digestive system?
Chemically manufactured Sabudana is quite harmful to one’s health. Adulterated Sabudana can have a negative impact on health. It can lead to toxicity in the body but can even lead to body paralysis or eventually death. Thus, it becomes imperative to identify these adulterants. Some of the adulterants are highly toxic for the body leading to;
Kidney disorders & amp; many more
Adulteration has a detrimental effect on the quality of the product causing hindrance to the nutritive value of the product leading to nutritive deficiency in our body.
Q.5 What are the health benefits of sabudana?
Improves the growth of muscles Vegetarians can include tapioca in their diets as a healthy source of protein. It contains adequate amounts of protein that can facilitate the growth of muscles, strengthen and heal it. It also serves other cellular function requiring proteins.
Improves the bone health: Tapioca is composed of decent amount of calcium, iron and Vitamin K. It plays a vital role in maintaining the bone health and enhancing its flexibility. It keeps you energized day long by reducing fatigue.
Controls Blood Pressure: Tapioca helps greatly in maintaining the blood pressure. Blood circulation improves due to the potassium content in tapioca. It consequently, reduces the strain on your cardiovascular system.
It boosts your energy level: One can feel fatigued or lack of energy throughout the day. By adding tapioca in your diet it will keep your batteries charged up. The carbohydrate content in tapioca can re energize a person quickly and healthy way. Giving a much needed push to your energy reserves.
Helps you gain weight: In order to gain weight, tapioca is the best solution. Packed with carbohydrates, this root makes weight – gain quickly and easily. It can act as a perfect supplement for people suffering from eating disorders or want to gain weight. It is cost effective, easy to cook and definitely more healthy than artificial supplements.
Prevents birth defects: Tapioca contains folic acid and vitamin B complex which help in the proper formation of a foetus, protecting it against common birth defects like neural tube defect.
Improves Digestion: It can lift your digestive system. It helps to resolve problems like constipation, indigestion, bloating and flatulence; tapioca keeps a check on your cholesterol levels, helping in upgrading your life.
Hence, it is advisable to avoid chemically produced sago/ sabudana as it causes severe health scares. It also overshadows the benefits of sago, making it unfit for healthy living. Consuming natural sago is the safest option.
For Appointment : Dr. Zeenath Fatima, Consultant nutritionist of Continental Hospitals.
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