Being on the keto diet can be difficult enough, especially if you’re new to it. When it comes to trying to find substitutes for basic things like cornflour, it’s even worse.
Sometimes you want to make a specific recipe, but it calls for flour or cornflour.
What are you supposed to do? Suffer without it?
Most substitutes for flour aren’t all that keto friendly, as you probably already know. A lot of the time, a recipe will suggest that you substitute the regular cornstarch or flour for arrowroot.
However, arrowroot powder (or arrowroot flour) is still a starch. So, is arrowroot actually keto friendly?
If you want to find out, just keep reading! We’ll be going through everything you need to know in order to stay on track. Let’s get into it, starting with the basics.
What Is Arrowroot?
If you’re familiar with gardening, you might already know what arrowroot is! Arrowroot is one of the starches that can be retrieved from rhizomes of some tropical plants.
Rhizomes are rootstock, for those of you who aren’t aware, and it is the stem that grows underground. In other words, it’s the part of the plant that stores energy and starch.
Arrowroot is often obtained from plants such as the arrowroot plant, or other plants like cassava. However, there are a number of arrowroot plants around the world, and they can all be used to get the same kind of product.
The flour, or powder, obtained from these plants is used in a number of both sweet and savory dishes.
Roots from these plants can be cooked and consumed as is, but the powder is made by drying the root out, then milling it.
In baking, arrowroot flour can be used for making pastries, cookies, and even cakes. It can also be used as a thickening agent for other foods like sauces or puddings – so it’s pretty diverse!
It’s a great ingredient to use in order to replace the wheat flour in gluten-free dishes.
Arrowroot is thought to be useful for more than cooking, though! We’ll take a look at some other potential benefits and uses of this great product a little later on.
Arrowroot Nutritional Facts And Information
Let’s take a look at the nutritional facts and information or arrowroot below. For this, we will be looking at the values of 100g of arrowroot powder (flour).
Nutritional values per 100g of arrowroot powder:
- Calories (kcal) – 357
- Total carbs (g) – 88.15
- Net carbs (g) – 85.75
- Fiber (g) – 3.4
- Protein (g) – 0.3
- Fat (g) – 0.1
Is It Low-Carb?
As the numbers above suggest, arrowroot is not exactly low carb. While it is a product that is paleo, vegan, and gluten-free, it does have a significant amount of carbs present in it.
Over 80% of the total calories actually come from carbs, and the vast majority of them are actually net carbs, at 85.75 grams.
As a result, there’s no way that arrowroot could be considered to be a low carb ingredient, though it is lower in carbs than a number of other similar flours.
Is Arrowroot Considered Healthy?
This is where things might get a little more interesting. We briefly mentioned that arrowroot has historically been used for non-cooking purposes. So, what could those be?
Well, this unique ingredient is thought to have medicinal properties, too. While there is no strong evidence for any of the claims, there is still the potential presence of these benefits.
We’ll be taking a look at some of these benefits below.
- Appetite regulation and weight loss – arrowroot’s resistant starch can help slow digestion, make you feel fuller for longer. This helps to regulate individuals’ appetites, which causes them to eat less, and therefore lose weight. As shown in a recent study, the consumption of resistant starch led to fewer calories being taken in by a group of people.
- Helps treat diarrhea – the same study as the one above also showed us that the ingestion of arrowroot also helps with reducing both diarrhea and abdominal pain in those who took it. Individuals with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) took arrowroot powder every day, and experienced decreased effects of their health conditions. The ingestion of arrowroot also helps with producing more consistent stool.
- Source of prebiotics – prebiotics help the healthy bacteria in our gut, which in turn helps improve intestinal health.
- Boost the immune system – having the beneficial bacteria in the gut function in a healthy manner also result in more vitamins being created to boost the immune system. Additionally, the increase in vitamins leads to more minerals being absorbed, which helps the immune system function in a healthy manner.
- Improves gluten-free products – the presence of arrowroot in gluten-free products is known to increase the crispiness and taste of the foods. This is because of the resistant starch present in arrowroot.
Is Arrowroot Suitable For A Keto Diet?
Since arrowroot is primarily a starch, it comes as no surprise that the nutritional values are pretty high for carbs and calories.
About 80% of arrowroot is starch, and in 100g of arrowroot powder, there are a whopping 357 calories, and 84.75 grams of net carbs. You don’t need to be a nutritionist to know that these numbers are pretty high.
The trick when it comes to arrowroot powder is size. It can be used in many keto friendly dishes because only small amounts of it are actually used.
If you need to thicken up a sauce or jelly, you aren’t using several hundred grams of arrowroot powder, only a teaspoon or so!
As such, in small doses, it’s a great alternative. If you’re cooking up a storm and have enough to feed an army, adding one tablespoon of arrowroot isn’t really going to affect the calories you take in, because it gets spread out over so many portions.
Even though it’s a good alternative in some dishes, it isn’t always the best option.
There are other alternatives that you can consider if you know that you need larger amounts of power for whatever reason.
For people on very strict keto diets, xanthan gum is most often used, but there are some others, too! We’ll be taking a look at those in just a minute.
So, can you consume arrowroot on a keto diet? The answer to that depends on you and the diet you’re on.
If you are on a very strict keto diet, then arrowroot probably isn’t the best idea!
If you are a keto dieter than can afford to take in a few extra calories and carbs, then arrowroot is probably a good option for you.
Since the whole idea of being on the keto diet is to reach ketosis and maintain it, however, it is unlikely that consuming arrowroot will do you any favors.
The amount of carbs it contains would not help you with your diet goals.
As such, the better things to do would actually be to avoid arrowroot altogether and look for better alternatives.
Again, though, if you are allowing yourself some starch, arrowroot is not a bad option.
Are There Any Arrowroot Substitutes?
If you’re looking for some arrowroot alternatives that are a little more keto friendly, check out some of these:
- Psyllium husk – psyllium husk is an ingredient that is typically used to relieve symptoms of mild diarrhea and constipation. It is also commonly used as an ingredient for food thickening.
- Xanthan gum – xanthan gum is often used as a food additive, and works well as a thickening agent and emulsifier. It is also a popular ingredient for stabilizing food, especially in industrial food.
- Guar gum – also known as guaran, this product is made from guar beans. It is used as a thickening agent and stabilizing food. This ingredient is also popular for industrial applications.
- Glucomannan powder – this is a sugar that is made from the konjac plant root. It is used to help lower cholesterol, among other things, and is a popular thickening agent.
Arrowroot is often marketed as being a keto and low carb friendly ingredient, but it isn’t. When you take a look at the nutritional facts and values of 100g of this ingredient, the numbers don’t lie.
While it’s fine to use in small amounts, when you use arrowroot in larger quantities, the carbohydrate and calorie count grows rapidly.
As a result, arrowroot is not a keto friendly option for those who are serious about being on a strict keto diet.
Instead, there are a number of alternatives that can be explored in the list above.
These alternatives, while not perfect, are lower in carbs, and can be used in the same way as arrowroot powder.