What Is Arrowroot Powder?
Arrowroot or arrowroot starch is a powdery product extracted from the roots of the arrowroot plant Maranta arundinaceae. Arrowroot plant is native to South America. It is a small perennial herb with broad, flat, ovate shaped leaves and grows to a height of 3 to 5 feet. The root is underground and is a small, cylindrical shaped cream-white/light red tuber, covered with thin surface scales.
They contain about 23% starch. Before extracting the starch, they are washed and the scales are removed to avoid any disagreeable flavor. The roots are washed, drained and reduced to a pulp by beating them in mortars. This milky liquid is passed through a coarse cloth and the insoluble pure starch is allowed to settle at the bottom. This starch is dried in the sun or “drying house” resulting in the formation of arrowroot powder. This powder is fine, clear white and odorless, and used as a thickening agent in food industries.
Arrowroot starch is mostly used as a thickener in foods such as puddings and sauces. Its thickening power is twice that of regular flour. It should be mixed with cold water before being added to a hot liquid to prevent clumping. It is also used in cookies and crackers as a substitute for regular flour and hence, is a great option for those who are gluten-intolerant. Arrowroot biscuits are available in stores and are believed to soothe the stomach.
Arrowroot Health Benefits:
The easy digestibility and ability to mix well with a wide range of food ingredients make arrowroot the most sought after starch in infant formulas and confectionary. In addition to its culinary uses, it offers several health benefits given below.
1. Aids in Digestion:
Arrowroot aids in digestion and regulates bowel movement. Its high starch content acts as a mild laxative for those suffering from irritable bowel syndrome. The demulcent effects of arrowroot powder can soothe the bowels in patients with irritable bowel syndrome. Arrowroot starch is also considered as an effective remedy for diarrhea and a lot of other gastrointestinal ailments. It can relieve nausea and replace nutrients that are lost due to diarrhea and vomiting.
2. Maintains Acid and Alkali Balances:
Calcium ash is the only starch product present in arrowroot. This calcium chloride in the form of calcium is vital for the maintenance of proper acid and alkali balances in the human body.
3. Suitable for Infants:
Being easily digestible in comparison to other starches, it is suitable for infants. It can be made into a jelly to feed newly weaned infants. It can also be used as an alternative to breast milk as it is easily digestible.
Arrowroot is a great alternative for those who are allergic to corn and gluten. It can be used as a substitute for wheat flour and is a popular ingredient in gluten free baking.
5. Antidote for Poisoning:
Arrowroot is often used as an antidote for certain types of vegetable poison in some regions. Ground arrowroot rhizomes are applied over wounds and insect bites and are said to be effective in drawing out poison from the bites of scorpions, spiders etc.
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6. Beneficial in Pregnancy:
Fresh roots are a good source of folates which are vital during pregnancy. A 100 gram serving of arrowroot provides about 338 µg or 84% of the daily required levels of folates. Along with vitamin B-12, folate is an essential component in DNA synthesis and cell division. Adequate consumption of folate during preconception periods and during pregnancy helps prevent neural tube defects and other congenital malformations in the offspring.
7. Facilitates Weight Loss:
Arrowroot is fat free and low in calories. This makes it beneficial for weight loss. You can conveniently use it in sauces and soups without worrying about increased fat content or calories.
8. Heart Health:
Arrowroot is an excellent source of potassium which is an important component of cell and body fluids that help regulate heart rate and blood pressure.
Arrowroot Skin Benefits:
Arrowroot is a great herbal remedy for treating various skin problems. It can be beneficial for your skin in the following ways.
9. Treatment of Small Pox and Gangrene:
Arrowroot is an herbal treatment for small pox and gangrene that can cause skin infection and itchiness.
10. Baby Powder:
In South America, arrowroot starch is used as a baby powder. It is a light weight white powder, which, when applied to the skin, gives a soft and smooth feel.
11. Used in Moisturizers and Talcum Powders:
Arrowroot starch is used in talcum powders and moisturizers as a thickening agent. When used in cosmetics, it enables active ingredients to penetrate the upper levels of your skin as it has great moisture absorbing qualities. Arrowroot is often used in body powders to make your skin silkier and smoother. It softens your skin by enabling it to absorb moisture.
12. Treatment of Skin Problems:
Arrowroot powder is light, soft and absorbent. It is used in making body powders. When applied topically, it helps dry up blemishes, rashes, or other sores or wounds.
13. Treatment of Athlete’s foot:
Arrowroot is used to control moisture while dealing with foot problems such as athlete’s foot. Since it does not possess antifungal properties, it is used for moisture control only.
14. Healing Qualities:
Arrowroot has great healing qualities. It is made into a poultice and applied topically to treat rhizomes, ulcers and wounds. In Africa, it is used as a source of nourishment and for treatment of sunburns.
Arrowroot Hair Benefits:
Arrowroot is widely used in cosmetic products as a thickening agent. Though not much is known about its benefits for hair, its nutritional value does make it beneficial in hair care.
15. Used in Hair Dyes:
Due to its excellent thickening properties and ability to mix with other ingredients, arrowroot is often used in hair dyes.
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Nutritional Value of Arrowroot:
The health benefits of this starch-rich underground creeping rhizome can be attributed to its nutritional value. The raw tuber is in its most nutritious state. Processing of arrowroot into flour decreases its nutritional value considerably. Its nutritional profile is explained below:
|See the table below for in depth analysis of nutrients:Arrowroot (Maranta arundinacea), raw,|
Nutrition Value per 100 g,(Source: USDA National Nutrient data base)
|Principle||Nutrient Value||Percentage of RDA|
|Total Fat||0.20 g||1%|
|Dietary Fiber||1.3 g||3.5%|
|Vitamin A||19 IU||<1%|
|Vitamin C||1.9 mg||3%|
- Calories: Arrowroot is very low in calories. A serving of 100 grams fresh roots provides just 65 calories which is less than that of potato, yam, cassava etc. Its starch content is 80% amylopectin and 20% amylose.
- Vitamins: Arrowroot is a rich source of vitamins. An eight ounce serving of raw arrowroot provides 1% of the recommended daily intake (RDI) of vitamin A. As far as B-complex vitamins are concerned, it provides 22% of the RDI of thiamine, 8% of the RDI of riboflavin and 19% of the RDI of niacin. These B-vitamins help your body break down food into energy. However, processing of arrowroot reduces these nutrients drastically. Fresh arrowroot also provides 30% of the RDI of vitamin B-6, 7% for pantothenic acid and 192% for folate while the flour contains just 1% of the RDI of vitamin B-6, 3% for pantothenic acid and just 4% for folate.
- Minerals: As far as minerals are concerned, arrowroot flour has a higher nutritional value than raw arrowroot. 8 ounces of fresh arrowroot contains 1% of the RDI of calcium and 20% of the RDI of manganese. A similar amount of arrowroot flour has 9% of the RDI of calcium and 53% of the RDI of manganese. It is an excellent source of potassium with a 100 gram serving providing 454 mg of this mineral which is 10% of the RDI. It contains lesser amounts of other minerals like copper, iron, phosphorus, magnesium and zinc.
- Protein: Proteins are components of every part of your body where they are broken down continuously. 8 ounces of raw arrowroot provides about 19% of the recommended daily intake of protein while the same amount of arrowroot flour provides just 1% of the RDI of protein. In fact, it contains more protein than other tropical food sources like yam, potato, cassava, plantains etc.
- Other Nutrients: Arrowroot flour has a higher content of carbohydrates as well as dietary fiber. While raw root contains 10% of the RDI of carbohydrates, flour contains 67% of the RDI of this group. Similarly, the amount of fiber is 12% and 31% of the RDI for raw root and flour respectively.
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