Is Tapioca Safe During Pregnancy? Pudding, Pearls + More

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Written by Gina Wagg BA, Dip.

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Craving tapioca pearls and pudding? See why you may want to reconsider tweaking one particular ingredient when making the latter. 

While tapioca pearls are safe for pregnant women because they are boiled, tapioca pudding (which may contain eggs that have not been thoroughly cooked) would not be considered safe during pregnancy without modifications.

The good news is that pasteurized eggs can be used instead of regular ones, or you can substitute cornstarch to thicken the pudding.  As all tapioca is made from cassava, it should be eaten in moderation.

If you want to dig deeper into learning about safely consuming tapioca pearls, pudding, syrup, and chips during pregnancy, then keep on reading!

Is Tapioca Pudding Safe During Pregnancy? 

Tapioca pudding is safe when pasteurized eggs are used instead of unpasteurized eggs. 

The key ingredients in tapioca pudding are tapioca pearls, milk, eggs, and sugar. It is a calorie-dense dessert. 

Tapioca pearls are meant to be boiled. If you use pasteurized milk and only a small amount of sugar, it should be safe to consume. An area of caution is the eggs.

tapioca pudding in a bowl

Tapioca pudding recipes online often call for the eggs to temper in the hot mixture before they are completely added to the pan.

Recipes instruct to not boil the mixture after the egg has been added but to instead opt only for low to medium heat, i.e. to simmer for a few minutes. 

The problem here is that the eggs might not be thoroughly cooked. Pregnant women and their unborn babies are particularly vulnerable to Salmonella enteritidis infections which can be present in raw or undercooked eggs (source: USDA). 

To make this recipe safe, utilize pasteurized eggs. According to the FDA, this option is safer than consuming unpasteurized eggs (source: FDA).  

Another alternative to unpasteurized eggs is to use a cornstarch slurry to thicken the mixture (source: Honest Food Talks). 

During pregnancy, you should avoid consuming tapioca products in excess. Dietary cassava has been suspected by clinicians in South-eastern Nigeria to cause neuropathies according to a study. Pregnant albino rats were fed with milled cassava powder. Though low incidences were reported, fetuses born did present birth defects (source: Wiley Online Library).

To be certain how much tapioca pudding, pearls, and other products you can safely consume, ask your doctor for the best advice. 

tapioca pearls in a bowl, ingredient to boba (bubble) milk tea

Are Tapioca Pearls (Balls) or Syrup Safe When Pregnant?

Tapioca pearls, also called tapioca balls, are safe to consume while pregnant in moderation. They are boiled until a chewy texture is achieved. 

In Boba, tapioca starch is sometimes mixed with potato starch along with brown sugar. This combination creates black tapioca balls. The white pearls, most commonly used in puddings, are made from tapioca starch, chamomile root, and caramel (source: Food Science & Nutrition).

tapioca pearls in boba (bubble) milk tea

Another thing to consider is that tapioca pearls barely have protein and fat. The only significant nutrient they contain is carbohydrates. 

A 100 g serving contains 88.7 g of carbohydrates and approximately 358 kcal (source: USDA). If in pudding or other desserts, a cup of tapioca balls will significantly add to your total calories for the day.

Gaining too much weight is discouraged during pregnancy. Gestational weight gain can increase the risk for gestational diabetes, hypertension, and difficulties during labor and delivery (source: NIH). 

pile of tapioca chips

Can I Eat Tapioca Chips During Pregnancy?

Tapioca chips are made directly from the raw cassava root. The root is thinly sliced and the slices are dried before deep-frying. 

While tapioca or cassava chips are available in supermarkets and online, it’s probably best to only eat them in moderation during pregnancy. You should first check with your doctor regarding the limits of how many chips you can have. This is for both dietary and safety reasons. 

Overall, tapioca pearls, puddings, and chips are safe, if prepared with pasteurized eggs and not taken in excess. Hopefully, this article has helped to answer your tapioca concerns during pregnancy.