Sago is a starch extracted in the spongy centre, or pith, of various tropical palm stems, especially Metroxylon sagu. It is a major staple food for the lowland peoples of New Guinea and the Moluccas, where it is called saksak, rabia and sagu. A type of flour, called sago flour, is made from sago. The largest supply of sago comes from the East Indies. Large quantities of sago are sent to Europe and North America for cooking purposes. It is traditionally cooked and eaten in various forms, such as rolled into balls, mixed with boiling water to form a paste, or as a pancake. Sago is often produced commercially in the form of "pearls". Sago pearls can be boiled with water or milk and sugar to make a sweet sago pudding. Sago pearls are similar in appearance to tapioca pearls and the two may be used interchangeably in some dishes.
The name sago is also sometimes used for starch extracted from other sources, especially the sago cycad, Cycas revoluta. The sago cycad is also commonly known (confusingly) as the sago palm, although this is a misnomer as cycads are not palms. Extracting edible starch from the sago cycad requires special care due to the poisonous nature of cycads.
The fruit of palm trees from which the sago is produced is not allowed to ripen fully. The full ripening completes the life cycle of the tree and exhausts the starch centre to produce the seeds. It leaves a hollow shell and causes the tree to die. The palms are cut down when they are about 15 years old, just before they are ready to flower. The stems, which grow to 30 feet, are split out. The starch pith is taken from the stems and ground to powder. A single palm yields about 800 pounds of starch. The powder is kneaded in water over a cloth or sieve. It passes into a trough where it settles. After a few washings, the flour is ready to be used in cooking.
Sago, which is also known as sabudana, is a starchy substance common to Indian cuisine. It is extracted from the stems of sago palm trees, then processed into small, circular pellets, which are sometimes referred to as pearls. These pearls are commonly used as energy-boosting ingredients in soups, puddings, smoothies, side dishes and main courses. Sago is not a low-calorie food, nor is it a good source of protein and fiber.
CarbohydratesSago is high in carbohydrate content. Carbs fall into the category of macronutrients, which the body needs in copious amounts for energy and brain function. A 100-gram serving contains nearly 86 grams of carbs. The recommended daily intake of these macronutrients is 45 to 65 percent of total calories.
ProteinProtein is another macronutrient, but it has a slightly different purpose in the body. It is used for the preservation of all connective tissue, aids with wound healing and helps boost immunity. The recommended intake is 46 grams a day for women aged 19 to 70 and 56 grams a day for men in this same age range. A serving of 100 grams of sago contains less than 1/2 gram of protein.
Low in FatFat is the last of the three macronutrients. Although fat is much maligned for its detrimental effects on the body, it's mainly saturated fat that you need to worry about. A high intake is known to promote high cholesterol and heart disease. Sago contains a very low amount of total and saturated fat. A 100-gram serving has only .2 gram of total fat and .1 gram of saturated.
CaloriesSago is high in calories. One gram of carbs has 4 calories, which is a big contributor to the overall amount. A 100-gram serving of sago accounts for 350 calories.
Vitamins and MineralsSago does not contain many vitamins and minerals, but it does have some. A 100-gram serving gives you 7 percent of your daily allowance. This mineral, which is found in plentiful amounts in animal products, helps deliver oxygen through the blood. Sago also contains small amounts of calcium, copper, potassium and sodium. With the exception of copper, these are electrolyte minerals, which help with muscle contractions and water balance.
FiberThe highest fiber foods include whole grains, fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts and seeds. Sago does not belong to any of these categories, and its fiber content reflects that. A 100-gram serving contains less than 1 gram.
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