When you are on the keto diet, cooking your meals is an everyday thing since low-carb and keto-friendly options are harder to find. Many recipes include common thickness such as cornstarch and flour, but as keto dieters, we can’t use them because they aren’t keto-friendly and have very little nutritional value.
In many low-carb and keto recipes, thickeners like flour or cornstarch are substituted with arrowroot powder (flour), as it is used as a thickener. But, it is still a starch, so is it keto-friendly and can you consume it on the keto diet?
Keep on reading to find out everything you need to know about arrowroot.
What Is Arrowroot?
Arrowroot is a starch that is obtained from the rootstock (rhizomes) of a few tropical plants. The rhizome is a plant’s underground stem and that is where the plant stores its starch and energy.
The most commonly used tropical plant is Maranta arundinacea, but there is also tapioca from cassava plant (Manihot esculenta) and Florida arrowroot from Zamia integrifolia. There is also the Polynesian arrowroot from Tacca leontopetaloides and the Japanese arrowroot obtained from Pueraria lobata plant which is used in the same ways.
Even though you can cook the root itself, the arrowroot is usually processed by drying the arrowroot and then making it into powder form. This product is called arrowroot powder or arrowroot flour.
The arrowroot flour is used in many sweet and savory dishes, as a thickening agent in puddings, sauces, and jellies and also in many baked things like pastries, cakes, and cookies and as a replacement for wheat flour in gluten-free recipes.
But, its benefits don’t end in the kitchen for cooking, over the years it has been used for its many health benefits that we will talk about a few sections below.
The nutritional value of arrowroot powder comes mainly from carbs, as it is a starch. So, here is the nutritional information of 100 grams of arrowroot powder (*).
|Total Carbs||88.15 grams|
|Net Carbs||84.75 grams|
Is Arrowroot Powder Low-carb?
Arrowroot is gluten-free, paleo, and vegan, so is it low-carb too? More than 80% of its calories come from carbs and most of them are net carbs, therefore it can not be considered a low-carb product.
Is Arrowroot Healthy?
As we mentioned before, historically, arrowroot has been used for its medical properties that mainly come from its carb content and composition. There are a few potential health benefits and we will discuss them below.
Arrowroot and arrowroot flour may potentially help with weight loss. This property is linked to the resistant starch content in arrowroot which is about 32%. Resistant starch behaves similarly to soluble fiber, when it is mixed with water it absorbs it and it creates a viscous gel-like substance. (*)
Resistant starch and soluble fiber slows digestion and helps you “feel fuller” for longer periods of time, and helps regulate your appetite, which means you eat less.
In a study of 20 healthy adults, one group took a supplement of 48 grams or 1.5 ounces of resistant starch and the results revealed that that group consumed significantly fewer calories when compared to the control group. (*)
There have been some reports and studies done where arrowroot powder may help with treating diarrhea. In one monthly study, 11 people with irritable bowel syndrome took 10 mg or 2 teaspoons of arrowroot powder 3 times a day. They reported less abdominal pain and diarrhea. (*)
This is also linked to the starch content of arrowroot powder which can help with the consistency and size of the stool, and in turn, help lessen the frequency.
Arrowroot, just like other roots, is a good source of prebiotics. Prebiotics are a type of dietary fiber that is feeding the healthy bacteria in the gut, and thus making intestinal health better. (*)
These beneficial bacteria in the intestines produce vitamins that can boost the immune system and they also absorb minerals that are essential for your immune system to function properly. (*)
There was a study done on mice that were given arrowroot powder that resulted in them having increased immunoglobulins G, A, and M in their blood, and similar results were seen in test-tubes. (*)
Additionally, arrowroot is naturally gluten-free, so it is a great substitute for wheat flour and its resistant starch makes it great for improving the texture, taste, and crispness in gluten-free products. (*)
Can You Consume Arrowroot On The Keto Diet?
As you can see above, arrowroot is mainly made from starch- about 80%. In 100 grams of arrowroot powder, there are 84.75 grams of net carbs and 357 calories. This makes it an extremely high-carb and high-calorie product.
So, how is it used in so many low-carb and even keto dishes? Well, it is all about the sizing. You only need small amounts of arrowroot powder to add to a dish. A tablespoon or two is not going to affect your carbs that much- especially if you are cooking for multiple servings.
That being said, arrowroot powder is not the best or the only thickener out there that can be used in keto and low-carb recipes. There are many more keto-friendly thickeners out of which xanthan gum is the most commonly used.
So, is arrowroot okay to consume on the keto diet? The answer to this question depends on whether you are on a strict keto diet or not. If you are on a strict keto diet, and you want to consume as little carbs as possible, then it is for the best that you stay away from arrowroot and arrowroot powder.
But, if you allow yourself some starch, then sure, you can use arrowroot and arrowroot powder as long as you carefully watch how much you use to make sure you are still in ketosis.
What Are Arrowroot Substitutes?
If a recipe asks for arrowroot, you can still substitute it with some keto-friendly thickeners. Some of them are
- xanthan gum
- glucomannan powder
- guar gum
- psyllium husk
No, the arrowroot is high-carb so it is not keto-friendly.
In arrowroot powder, there are 84.45 grams of net carbs per 100 grams.
If you are okay with starches in your diet, then you can use small amounts of this high-carb product when you cook, and if the recipe asks for large amounts of arrowroot powder, then it is best to substitute it.
If you are following a strict keto diet, then consuming arrowroot or arrowroot powder may not be for you. You may want to stick to other alternatives that are low-carb and keto-friendly.
*Photo by neillangan/depositphotos