9 Surprising Health Benefits of Sago

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated -

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The notable health benefits of sago include its impact on weight gain, blood circulation, bone mineral density, nerve function, blood pressure and digestion. It also helps in improving the energy levels in the body. Therefore, it is important to understand where it comes from, what nutrients it can deliver, and the potential health benefits it holds.

What is Sago?

Sago is a starchy substance that is derived from the center of various palm tree species. The pith inside the trunk is taken out and dried to make sago granules or is ground into fine powder. It is most widely used in New Guinea, where it goes by other names, such as sagu and rabia. This starchy foodstuff comes in various forms, depending on its intended use. The most popular one is in the form of “pearls”. They are small balls that can be easily added to water, milk or various other sauces to thicken the mixture, forming everything from puddings to stews and curries. You will also find sago pearls at the bottom of bubble tea, a popular beverage in many Asian countries.

When the fine powder of sago is kneaded with water, it releases the starch, which can be allowed to settle and harden. From there, it can be formed into any shape and used in various culinary applications. Despite not having significant nutritive value, it is still a very important staple food in certain parts of the world.

Sago Nutrition Facts

Sago is not widely praised for having excellent nutrient diversity, but it does contain a high level of calories. It is very high in carbohydrates, as are most starchy foods (potatoes, cassava etc.), which makes it valuable in areas where energy sources are scarce.

Sago contains a moderate amount of iron and low levels of potassium, calcium, and copper. There are also traceable amounts of vitamins, specifically folic acid and various other B-family vitamins. Sago contains fat, protein, and fiber, with less than 2 grams of each in a 100-gram serving. Due to this compact nutrient profile, sago is almost always combined with other nutrient-dense, but low-calorie foods, to create an energy-boosting and nutritious mixture.

Close-up of a female sago palm

Female sago palm Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Health Benefits of Sago

The health benefits of sago include its ability to help in weight gain, control blood pressure, and improve the blood circulation. Let’s discuss the most common benefits in detail.

Weight Gain

If you are malnourished or living in an area where your food supply is uncertain, or if you are recovering from an extended injury or illness, sago can be an excellent and inexpensive way to gain weight rapidly. There are about 350 calories in every 100 grams of serving. This starchy substance can be made into calorie-dense puddings and shakes and can provide the energy you need to function normally and regain weight.

Lowers Blood Pressure

There is a small amount of potassium found in sago, which can help address blood pressure concerns. Potassium functions as a vasodilator, which means it can relax tension in the blood vessels and open them up. This, in turn, can reduce blood pressure and lower the overall strain on the cardiovascular system.

Improves Digestion

In terms of digestive issues or inflammation in the stomach, sago is often recommended as it is easy to digest. As it has a small amount of fiber, it can further speed up the digestive process and help rebalance the bacterial environment in the gut.

Increases Energy

Obviously, calories are the main source of energy for human beings. They help power all of the processes we take for granted on a daily basis. A solid dose of calories in the form of easily digested sago is an excellent way to keep your energy levels high and regulated over the course of your day.

Boosts Bone Mineral Density

Although the mineral content in sago is limited, there are small amounts of copper, iron, and calcium. These can help in the creation of bone tissues, which can strengthen bone mineral density, prevent the onset of osteoporosis, and also prevent inflammation throughout the body.

Fastens Muscle Growth

Not only does this starch provide a huge amount of energy for a workout, but it also contains certain compounds that can aid in increasing the speed of muscle recovery. Essentially, a regular consumption of sago helps muscles work for longer, and fasten their repair and growth.

Reduces Neural Tube Defects

With moderate levels of folic acid, sago is known by many health experts to prevent the occurrence of neural tube defects in infants. This is a common vitamin deficiency that can have serious effects on the pregnancy and the newborn, so ensuring you have enough folic acid is essential.

Improves Nerve Function

By positively altering your electrolyte balance in the body, sago is able to improve the functioning of nervous system. Our nervous system needs electrolytes to be in balance to effectively communicate messages from the brain to every other part of the body, including the muscles.

Increases Circulation

One of the minerals that sago does contain in a notable amount is iron, which is directly linked to the production of red blood cells in the body, and thus, circulation. By improving the red blood cell count, you can increase blood flow to extremities in the body, which can promote healing and repair, as well as provide a boost in your energy levels.

Word of Caution: As mentioned earlier, sago is low in nutritive value but high in calories. If you consume it in excess, you may experience weight gain. When consumed moderately amount and added appropriately to your daily calorie intake, this starch can be very beneficial.

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About the Author

John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, publisher and photographer with English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana (USA). He co-founded the literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and now serves as the Content Director for Stain’d Arts, a non-profit based in Denver, Colorado. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.

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