Arrowroot is a starch obtained from the rhizomes of tropical plants. It is a popular food starch that was cultivated as early as 5000 BC. Preliminary results show that arrowroot can help treat diarrhea (1). Some research also states the use of arrowroot flour in making snack bars for those with diabetes (2).
Proponents claim that arrowroot may be good for babies, along with treating digestive issues and other ailments. In this post, we will see what research has to say about arrowroot and its powder.
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What Are The Health Benefits Of Arrowroot Powder?
Arrowroot is gluten-free, and this means it could be an ideal addition to the diet of those who are gluten-sensitive. The powder is also rich in fiber, and this is another reason you can include it in your diet. Some research shows that arrowroot may also help in the management of diabetes.
1. Can Promote Digestive Health
Preliminary studies show that arrowroot powder can help treat diarrhea in patients with irritable bowel syndrome (1). In the study, arrowroot powder could also reduce daytime bowel frequency and help relieve constipation in certain subjects.
The starch in arrowroot powder may aid in the fermentation of intestinal bacteria. This increases fecal bulk and results in efficient bowel action (1). In certain individuals, this may mean lesser abdominal pain in the long run.
Arrowroot is a powerful source of starch. Consuming it means more starch enters your colon. Starch acts as fodder for colonic bacteria, stimulating and proliferating their turnover rate. This also may promote digestive health (1).
2. Is Gluten-Free
Arrowroot starch is gluten-free. Gluten-free products, in general, contain starch. The starch plays a role in gelling, thickening, adhesion, stabilizing, and texturizing (3).
Some reports suggest that arrowroot starch may also help in the management of celiac disease (4).
You can try including arrowroot in your gluten-free cooking. You can use the powder to thicken puddings or sweet pie fillings. Substitute baking powder with arrowroot powder. Arrowroot starch is also an ideal replacement for eggs in baked goods.
3. Can Be Good For Babies
The gluten-free property of arrowroot can make it a healthier alternative for babies. Also, arrowroot has high digestibility. Some people believe that it can soothe an upset stomach (5).
Though there is no direct research stating the effects of arrowroot on babies, its easy digestibility (and lack of gluten) could make it safe for infants.
4. May Boost Immune Function
Arrowroot powder was found to stimulate the immune system in mice studies. This effect was attributed to the resistant starch in the powder, which may act as dietary fiber (5).
In the normal digestive process, the resistant starch in arrowroot powder releases glucose and oligosaccharides. The oligosaccharides are indigestible and could play an important role in modulating the immune system (5).
Another study with arrowroot tea showed the root might effectively inhibit the microbial growth of both gram-negative and gram-positive foodborne pathogens (6).
This effect of arrowroot tea was especially true with liquid foods, including ground beef and mushroom soup (6).
5. May Aid Diabetes Treatment
However, information about arrowroot and its antidiabetic properties is limited. If you have diabetes and want to use arrowroot to manage the condition, please consult your doctor.
Most benefits of arrowroot are still being researched. Some anecdotal evidence suggests its efficacy in promoting oral health and treating urinary tract infections. However, there is no scientific evidence to prove these claims.
There are other ways of using arrowroot. In the following section, we will explore them.
How Else Can You Use Arrowroot Powder?
The cosmetic uses of arrowroot are not scientifically proven, but anecdotal evidence supports them. Following are a few ways you can use this starch to enhance your appearance:
- As A Base For Makeup: If you are into DIY makeup, arrowroot can help. A blend of this starch, along with cinnamon and cocoa powder, can make for a perfect foundation.
- As A Dry Shampoo: Massage the starch powder into your scalp and the first couple of inches of your hair. Proponents claim that the powder will absorb the oils in the scalp and make hair clean and bouncy.
- A Homemade Acne Treatment: The starch can absorb excess sebum oils and penetrate the skin, thereby offering natural healing.
How Do You Use Arrowroot Powder In Cooking?
Arrowroot is healthy, and using it in cooking is simple. The following tips can help:
- You can use arrowroot powder as a thickener. Use it to thicken soups, stews, and gravies.
- You can also use it to make fried food crunchier.
- Mix arrowroot powder into beverages (like juice) and drink straight.
- Use the powder in high-heat cooking. It will break down easily if used for prolonged high-heat cooking. You can also use it instead of cornstarch.
- Use the powder in baking and desserts as it gives more structure to the finished product.
- Replace eggs in your baking dishes with arrowroot powder.
In the following section, we will look at the nutritional profile of arrowroot. This will give you more insight into the nutrients in the tuber that is responsible for its benefits.
What Is The Nutritional Profile Of Arrowroot Powder?
|Nutrient||Unit||1Value per 100 g||1 cup, sliced = 120.0g||1 root = 33.0g|
|Total lipid (fat)||g||0.2||0.24||0.07|
|Carbohydrate, by difference||g||13.39||16.07||4.42|
|Fiber, total dietary||g||1.3||1.6||0.4|
|Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid||mg||1.9||2.3||0.6|
|Vitamin A, RAE||g||1||1||0|
|Vitamin A, IU||IU||19||23||6|
|Fatty acids, total saturated||g||0.039||0.047||0.013|
|Fatty acids, total monounsaturated||g||0.004||0.005||0.001|
|Fatty acids, total polyunsaturated||g||0.092||0.11||0.03|
*values sourced from USDA, arrowroot, raw
As we mentioned earlier, arrowroot is versatile. It can be used in various ways. But does this mean anyone can consume it? Or does it have any contraindications?
What Are The Side Effects Of Arrowroot Powder?
Arrowroot is generally safe for most people. There are no proven interactions or side effects with respect to arrowroot.
However, there was a case of toxic hepatitis in two Korean women after the intake of arrowroot juice (8). The symptoms included nausea, vomiting, and jaundice. The study highlights the possibility of toxic hepatitis following the ingestion of arrowroot juice. Hence, please consult your physician before consuming an arrowroot.
Arrowroot can be a healthy addition to your diet. Though most of its benefits are still being researched, it can offer certain benefits. While its fiber helps promote digestive health, its gluten-free properties can be of help to many who are intolerant to gluten.
Be wary of the juice, though. Please consult your doctor before you go for arrowroot juice of any kind.
Expert’s Answers For Readers’ Questions
What forms are arrowroot available in?
Arrowroot is most commonly available in the powder form and is called arrowroot flour or arrowroot starch. You can purchase a pack of arrowroot powder here.
What is a substitute for arrowroot powder?
The best substitute for arrowroot powder is instant tapioca. This tapioca also holds for long cooking times. Remember to grind it finely before using, or you may find little tapioca balls in the finished dish (as tapioca doesn’t completely dissolve in water).
How is arrowroot powder/flour different from cornstarch? Which of the two is healthier?
While arrowroot is starch extracted from the tubers from the Marantaceae family, cornstarch is starch extracted from the endosperm of a corn kernel.
More importantly, cornstarch might have an association with GMO, but arrowroot doesn’t.
Cornstarch comes from grains and could be high in protein and fat. It needs a higher temperature for thickening. On the other hand, arrowroot has less protein and fat and requires a lower temperature for thickening.
Arrowroot flour seems to be the healthier alternative, although we need more research to understand how. However, you can replace cornstarch with arrowroot in your cooking.
- Arrowroot as a treatment for diarrhoea in irritable bowel syndrome patients: a pilot study, Arquivos de gastroenterologia.
- Development of arrowroot flour and taro flour snack bar with banana bud flour supplementation as snack for diabetes patient, Astrophysics Data System, Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory.
- Starch Characteristics Linked to Gluten-Free Products, Foods, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Celiac disease, Harvard Medical School.
- Evaluation of immunostimulatory effect of the arrowroot (Maranta arundinacea. L) in vitro and in vivo, Cytotechnology, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Antibacterial effect of water-soluble arrowroot (Puerariae radix) tea extracts on foodborne pathogens in ground beef and mushroom soup, Journal of Food Protection, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- The development of low glycemic index cookie bars from foxtail millet (Setaria italica), arrowroot (Maranta arundinacea) flour, and kidney beans (Phaseolus vulgaris), Journal of Food Science and Technology, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Two cases of toxic hepatitis caused by arrowroot juice, Clinical, and Molecular Hepatology
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