Boba is more commonly referred to as bubble tea. It is also called pearl tea and boba pearls. Boba contains flavored tea, milk (or a creamy milk substitute), and tapioca pearls. Boba (including the pearls) is consumed through a thick straw. The pearls must be chewed before they are swallowed. They are chewy and sweet, and some people think they taste and feel a little like taffy.
Bubble tea got its name because the tapioca pearls look a bit like bubbles. The tapioca pearls in boba are usually dark (or black) in color. These are comprised of cassava starch, sweet potato, and brown sugar. Boba occasionally has white or generally light-colored tapioca pearls. These pearls are usually comprised of cassava starch, chamomile root, and caramel. But is Boba bad for you?
Is Boba Bad for You?
Boba is a popular drink from Asia that is best enjoyed as a very occasional treat (if at all). If it is consumed regularly and/or on a long-term basis, the drink is harmful to your health. It has little nutritional value, and has alarmingly large amounts of calories and sugar. It also contains small amounts of potentially harmful chemicals that can accumulate in the human body.
Harmful Chemicals in Tapioca Pearls
Boba was invented in Taiwan in the 1980s, and has become incredibly popular all over Asia. It has also gained a great deal of popularity and prevalence in North America and Europe. Unfortunately, boba can have many negative health effects, especially when it is consumed regularly and/or on a long-term basis.
A study conducted at University Hospital in Germany made an alarming discovery: the tapioca pearls that they tested contained trace amounts of harmful chemicals: 2-(ethylhexyl)phthalate) (DEHP), acetophenone, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and styrene (a cancer-causing substance that can adversely impact health very quickly)
These chemicals do not properly break down in the body (or they do but extremely slowly). This means that they can build up over the years, causing progressively worse health effects. Most people are shocked to learn that these chemicals are considered “plastic-like”, and are commonly utilized in industrial processes.
Boba and Weight Gain
Another reason why boba is something you should avoid is that it is packed with calories and sugar, while offering almost no nutritional benefit. The exact calorie count and sugar content of a boba drink does slightly vary with recipe variations, but generally speaking there can be as many as 70 grams of sugar (although around 36 is more common) and more than 500 calories in one drink.
This means that Boba puts you at significant risk of becoming overweight and obese, dramatically increasing the chance you will develop one or more of any number of health conditions linked to being too heavy (such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and hypertension).
The sugar intake in Boba will also make you much more likely to experience dental decay. Dental decay is not only bad in itself, but is also linked to a variety of other health problems (such as gum disease).
Type 2 Diabetes
People with diabetes have blood sugar levels that are too high. When one suffers from type 2 diabetes, his or her pancreas does not function properly, and thus fails to produce the amount of insulin (a hormone) needed to regulate the blood’s glucose levels; or, the cells of his or her body do not react in the way that they should to the insulin that is produced. With type 2 diabetes, the glucose in the blood is not utilized as it should be (for energy), but rather remains in the blood.
Some symptoms of type 2 diabetes include: loss of muscle bulk; weight loss; fatigue; more frequent urination (especially at night); and intense thirst. Type 2 diabetes, when left untreated, can have serious complications. One of those is vision loss and blindness. It can also lead to amputation of a lower limb and kidney failure. Diabetes also tends to mean that one has much higher than average risk of developing cardiovascular disease or experiencing a stroke.
The most effective steps you can take to avoid developing type 2 diabetes are to exercise regularly, keep your consumption of alcohol moderate, don’t smoke (or quit if you do), maintain a healthy weight (and lose weight if you are overweight), and enjoy a balanced and healthy daily diet.
If you think that you might have type 2 diabetes, you must see your doctor very soon to be examined and tested. As we discussed earlier, untreated type 2 diabetes is dangerous and can have permanent, life-altering side effects. It can even lead to death.
Inflammation results when the body’s white blood cells are spurred into action and produce substances that are meant to fight infection. Unfortunately, this process of inflammation can occur as result of causes not related to the fighting of infection. The immune system causes the general inflammation, which leads to tissue damage.
There are number of conditions that are believed to result from or be linked to such as, for example, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, muscular neck and back pain, and osteoarthritis. Some symptoms of inflammation can be reduced joint function, stiffness of joints, pain in joints, swelling of joints, and redness, as well as symptoms similar to those of the flu, such as loss of appetite, headaches, fatigue, fever, and chills.
The best thing you can do is to avoid having boba all together, or cut it down to a very occasional treat. Another possibility is to try a boba alternative. Make your own boba free tea. Mix almond milk, black tea, and carrot juice (with no added sugar), with chia seeds instead of tapioca pearls. Enjoy this creamy boba free tea!
“Health Experts Warn That Boba Tea is Horrible For Your Body” https://nextshark.com/health-experts-warn-boba-tea-horrible-body/
“Too much boba is bad for you. California’s new data law could show who’s most at risk.” https://www.pri.org/stories/2016-08-24/boba-drinks-are-threat-your-health-because-bad-data-we-dont-know-who-most-risk
“What is the Nutritional Value of Boba?” http://www.livestrong.com/article/327076-what-is-the-nutritional-value-of-boba
“Boba tea can lead to obesity and diabetes, health experts warm”, http://abc7chicago.com/health/boba-tea-can-lead-to-obesity-diabetes-health-experts-warn/1453749
“What is the Nutritional Value of Boba?” http://www.healthline.com/health/food-nutrition/nutritional-value-of-boba#nutritional-value3
“Type 2 diabetes”, http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/Diabetes-type2/Pages/Introduction.aspx
“About Inflammation”, http://www.webmd.com/arthritis/about-inflammation#1