Does Tapioca Starch Spike Insulin?

Last Updated on June 13, 2023 by Dr Sharon Baisil MD

Tapioca starch is a type of carbohydrate derived from the cassava root. It is widely used in many culinary applications as an alternative to other forms of starches such as cornstarch, potato starch, and wheat flour.

While tapioca starch has gained popularity in recent years for its gluten-free benefits, it’s important to understand how this type of starch affects blood sugar levels before using it in cooking or baking recipes.

This article will discuss the effects of tapioca starch on blood sugar levels and offer some insight into its glycemic index and potential health benefits and risks associated with its consumption.

What is tapioca starch?

Tapioca starch is a type of starch extracted from the cassava plant that is widely used as a gluten-free alternative to wheat and other grains.

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It contains very little protein, fiber, or other nutrients, but is high in carbohydrates.

Tapioca starch is used to thicken soups, stews, and gravies and also in baking to provide a chewy texture while maintaining moisture. Its easy digestion rate makes it suitable for those with digestive issues.

Studies have shown that tapioca starch has a low glycemic index and does not trigger an insulin response like processed sugars do, therefore it does not significantly affect blood sugar levels when consumed in moderation.

Does tapioca starch spike insulin?

Consumption of tapioca starch may cause a sudden surge in insulin levels due to its high glycemic index. This is because the carbohydrate metabolism of the starch is quickly digested, resulting in a rapid rise in blood sugar and consequently triggering an increase in insulin secretion. Studies have found that resistant tapioca maltodextrin may not spike blood sugar levels, suggesting that it has different effects on insulin than other starches.


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The effect of tapioca starch on insulin release and sensitivity may vary depending on the individual and how much is consumed. It is recommended to consume tapioca starch in moderation and for those with diabetes to consult with a healthcare professional before consuming it.

Starch typeGlycemic IndexEffect on Insulin
Tapioca StarchHighRapid Increase
Resistant Tapioca MaltodextrinLow/ModerateNo Spike or Satiety Aid

How does tapioca starch affect blood sugar levels?

Tapioca starch has a high glycemic index, which means it can cause a rapid rise in blood sugar levels. Studies have shown that modified tapioca starch may help lower insulin levels, while certain types of tapioca fiber, such as resistant tapioca maltodextrin, may not spike blood sugar levels and even help with satiety.

Additionally, the effects of tapioca starch on glucose absorption and postprandial glucose may vary depending on the individual and the amount consumed. In particular, diabetic mice on high-fat diets given modified tapioca starch had significantly lower insulin resistance than controls. However, isomalto-oligosaccharides (IMO) found in some types of tapioca flour can actually increase insulin levels.

Therefore, more research is needed to better understand how different forms of tapioca affect insulin resistance and glucose absorption in humans.

What is the glycemic index of tapioca starch?

The glycemic index of tapioca starch is in the intermediate range, with a score of 67.5. This score indicates that consumption of tapioca starch has an effect on blood glucose levels, but not to the same degree as foods with higher glycemic indexes. Additionally, the presence of resistant starch and slow-digesting carbohydrates in tapioca helps to limit the glycemic load associated with it and reduce its impact on blood glucose levels. Therefore, while tapioca can still have an effect on blood glucose levels, it is unlikely to cause significant fluctuations when consumed in moderate amounts and incorporated into a healthy diet.

What are the benefits and risks of consuming tapioca starch?

Eating tapioca starch can offer a range of potential benefits, as well as certain risks.

Tapioca is gluten-free and easy to digest, making it suitable for people with digestive issues or allergies to wheat and grains.

It also contains a small amount of resistant starch which has been linked to health benefits such as improved insulin resistance.

However, tapioca is low in nutrients and has a high glycemic index meaning it may cause a quick spike in blood sugar levels.

Consuming too much tapioca starch can also lead to indigestion due to its high carbohydrate content.

Therefore, if consuming tapioca starch, it is important to be aware of the potential risks and understand how dietary carbohydrates interact with pancreatic hormones involved in regulating blood sugar levels.

Eating starchy vegetables instead of tapioca may help reduce these risks whilst allowing you to benefit from insulin function.

Key Takeaways

  • Tapioca starch has a low glycemic index but may cause sudden insulin surges due to high consumption
  • Resistant tapioca maltodextrin may not spike blood sugar levels
  • Diabetics should consult healthcare professionals before consuming tapioca starch
  • Eating starchy vegetables instead may reduce risks while benefiting insulin function.

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