Sabudana, also known as tapioca or sago pearl, is a starch derived from tapioca roots. Its neutral taste makes it a popular ingredient for thickening liquids, soups and sauces. Plus, it adds texture to bread, cakes, and other baked goods.
Sabudana can be cooked by roasting, boiling or fermenting. Although it is a non-grain carbohydrate, it is very nutritious. According to USDA, it contains calcium and energizing compounds. However, sabudana is high in carbohydrates. Therefore, people with diabetes looking for a healthy meal should avoid it.
Since diabetes causes blood sugar levels to fluctuate, patients need to make changes in diet and lifestyle to manage their condition. This is because either their body does not produce enough insulin to regulate blood sugar, or their cells may be unable to respond to the insulin produced by the pancreas. Thus, it could lead to other health complications.
Diabetic patients should be aware of and avoid foods that cause high blood sugar levels. For example, processed carbs are well known to be bad for diabetes. Yet they still have the option of consuming sabudana, but only in moderation.
Sabudana and diabetes: the connection
For people with diabetes, eating sabudana can be risky due to its high carbohydrate content. The starch in sabudana is quickly converted into sugar, which leads to an increase in blood sugar. While that doesn’t mean it’s completely off limits, people with diabetes should be extra careful when consuming carbohydrate-rich foods. Additionally, they may need to adjust their insulin dose accordingly.
Studies show that sabudana has a high glycemic index (GI). Therefore, it could harm people with diabetes by sharply raising blood sugar. It should therefore be consumed in moderation. The glycemic index of sabudana is 67. So if you consume excess sabudana, it will increase the sugar level. In an ideal situation, diabetic patients should eat foods with a lower glycemic index.
Can diabetics eat Sabudana?
Found in many Indian dishes, Sabudana is a popular choice for religious fasts. Although people with diabetes can incorporate sabudana into their meal plans, it is wise to pay attention to portion size and its impact on overall carbohydrate intake.
Research showed that resistant starch in foods can reduce the risk of colon cancer. Sabudana is rich in resistant starch. Plus, it can help prevent constipation and help manage weight. Additionally, Sabudana’s high fiber content prevents hunger pangs and cravings, making it easier to resist unhealthy snacks. However, it is essential to note that diabetic patients should not overeat sabudana.
Consult a HealthifyMe coach if you are considering incorporating sabudana into your diet. They can help you assess your glycated hemoglobin level and determine how much sabudana you can safely consume.
Note from The Fitness Freak
Diabetic patients can benefit from sabudana even while following a low carb diet, but moderation is key. Eating sabudana in moderation will only slightly raise blood sugar. Sabudana is best paired with low-calorie, fiber-rich vegetables and good-quality protein like dal or low-fat curd. This will increase total fiber intake and help maintain blood sugar stability. Fiber slows the absorption of glucose, thus avoiding drastic changes in blood sugar.
Sabudana Glycemic Index
The glycemic index (GI) measures how quickly foods affect blood sugar. High GI foods are quickly absorbed into the bloodstream and can cause blood sugar levels to rise significantly. In contrast, low GI foods are digested more slowly, resulting in a more minor and gradual rise in blood sugar.
GI is rated on a scale of 0-100, with pure glucose having a score of 100. Foods with a GI of 70 or higher are considered high, those with a GI of 56-69 are considered medium, and those with a GI of 55 or less are considered low.
Sabudana, also known as tapioca pearls, is a carbohydrate derived from cassava root starch. It is widely consumed in India and other countries around the world. Research has shown that the glycemic index (GI) of sabudana is between 60 and 70, which is considered medium to high.
Note from The Fitness Freak
It is crucial to consider more than the glycemic index of foods to determine how it will affect blood sugar levels. Serving size, other nutrients in food (like fiber, fat, and protein), and preparation all impact how quickly you digest and blood sugar levels. Therefore, when selecting a food, it is essential to look at its overall nutritional content instead of just considering its GI.
HealthifyPro Tips for Consuming Sabudana for People with Diabetes
For people with diabetes, it’s best to avoid sabudana as much as possible, but if you do decide to have it occasionally, be sure to take precautions.
People with diabetes should only eat sabudana for breakfast or lunch because it is high in calories and takes longer to digest. However, it is crucial to be aware that it is not nutritionally dense, as it contains limited amounts of protein, iron and calcium. Therefore, if you plan to eat it, be sure to exercise afterwards to burn off any extra energy and avoid eating it for dinner.
Here are some tips for people with diabetes who want to include sabudana in their diet:
Watch portion sizes
If you have diabetes, it is essential to watch your carbohydrate intake. A quarter cup of sabudana contains 20 grams of carbohydrates, which is relatively high. Therefore, you need to be careful about how much sabudana you consume. Also, to avoid adverse effects, supplement it with other nutrients.
Pair it with protein and healthy fats
Consuming sabudana can cause an increase in blood sugar due to its high carbohydrate content. To help stabilize this, pair sabudana with foods containing protein and healthy fats, such as nuts, seeds, or yogurt. It will slow the absorption of carbohydrates, helping to maintain blood sugar balance.
Choose a healthy preparation method
Sabudana Wada, the Indian delicacy, may look delicious, but frying it adds extra calories and fat to the dish. Instead of frying sabudana in oil, try boiling or roasting it for a healthier preparation. Also, keep an eye on the ingredients you use.
Monitor your blood sugar
Blood glucose monitoring is essential in diabetes care, especially when consuming carbohydrate-rich foods. A continuous glucose monitor (CGM) is a modern technology that can help with this. The device sticks to your arm and connects to your phone, showing you the immediate effect of any food on your blood sugar. For example, using a CGM, you can accurately measure the impact of a serving of sabudana on your blood sugar.
Consult a dietitian or nutritionist
If you have diabetes and are considering incorporating sabudana into your diet, it is advisable to seek the advice of an expert. Consult with a healthcare expert, such as a registered dietitian or diabetes educator, on how to include it in your meals. A licensed nutritionist at HealthifyMe can tell you how much to have and build a nutritious, balanced diet plan.
Sabudana Khichdi Recipe for Diabetes
Diabetic patients can benefit from sabudana khichadi. However, the high sugar content of sabudana desserts may not be suitable for people with diabetes. Also, fried sabudana should always be avoided as it increases the level of unsaturated fats in the blood.
Khichdi is a great option for eating sabudana because it is easy to digest. Therefore, it does not aggravate indigestion symptoms in people with weak digestive systems. Additionally, a high-calorie snack is an excellent source of energy, so people with diabetes may benefit from consuming it before physical activity, such as exercise or a walk. Additionally, due to its high energy content, khichdi can aid in weight loss.
Sabudana Khichdi Recipe
Here is an Indian sabudana khichdi recipe that is suitable for people with diabetes:
- Sabudana (tapioca pearls): 1 cup
- Water: 1 cup
- Diced bell pepper: 1 (can opt for spinach/cabbage/green beans/carrot)
- Roasted peanuts: ¼ cup
- Mix the sprouts: ½ cup
- Chopped green pepper: 1
- Cumin seeds: ½ teaspoon
- Mustard seeds: ¼ teaspoon
- Turmeric powder: ¼ teaspoon
- Salt to taste
- Oil or ghee: 1 tablespoon
- Fresh cilantro, chopped (optional): 2 tbsp
- Rinse the sabudana with cold water until the water runs clear.
- Soak the sabudana in a cup of water for at least 2 hours or until the sabudana is soft and translucent.
- Heat the oil or ghee in a skillet over medium heat.
- Add the cumin and mustard seeds and let them sizzle for a few seconds until fragrant.
- Add the green chilli and turmeric, and stir for a few seconds. Add chopped vegetables and sprouts. Sauté for 5-7 minutes or until tender.
- Drain any excess water from the soaked sabudana and add it to the pot.
- Stir to coat the sabudana with spices.
- Add peanuts and salt to taste. Stir to mix everything well.
- Reduce the heat to low, cover the pan and cook the khichdi for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the sabudana is cooked through and the khichdi is heated through.
- Garnish with fresh cilantro, if desired. Serve the sabudana khichdi hot.
Note from The Fitness Freak
Soaking sabudana overnight increases its nutritional content, making it an excellent choice for a varied meal. To get the most benefit from sabudana, combine it with good quality vegetables and protein for a balanced and nutritious meal.
Sabudana is an excellent source of gluten-free carbs that can boost energy. However, if you have diabetes, consuming too much could harm your health. Excessive ingestion of sabudana can lead to hyperglycemia and indigestion. Therefore, anyone who is pregnant, breastfeeding, has uncontrolled diabetes, or has thyroid problems should consult a doctor before eating sabudana. The doctor may advise changing insulin and arranging meals to maintain blood sugar levels.
Although sabudana is not a diabetes superfood, it is still a rich source of immediate energy. Eating it in moderation and serving it with fiber-rich vegetables is key to maintaining healthy blood sugar levels.
Sources of support
1. United States Department of Agriculture
2. GLYCEMIC INDICES OF DIFFERENT CASSAVA FOOD PRODUCTS | Ogbuji, CA1 and David-Chukwu, NP2 | Department of Food Science and Technology, Abia State Polytechnic, Aba1 | Department of Hotel Management Technology, Abia State Polytechnic, Aba2
3. Newcastle University. “Cancer study: major preventive effect of resistant starch in people with Lynch syndrome.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, July 26, 2022.