Lately I have been noticing there are some gluten free recipes and a number of food products that contain arrowroot powder or arrowroot flour. This piqued my interest and led me to investigate what arrowroot is all about.
Is it healthy and gluten free, or is it an unhealthy ingredient used strictly as a filler? Because I coach women to balance their blood sugar and reverse pre-diabetes, I definitely wanted to know if arrowroot is low glycemic (keeps blood sugar stable, in the optimal zone). Does it actually have nutritional value? Does it have health benefits? I was surprised by the answers I found when I dug into some research.
What is Arrowroot ?
Arrowroot is a rhizome that grows underground and is very rich in starch. It comes from a plant family called Marantaceae, and it has fine, creeping tubers that are edible and easily digestible. Arrowroot is native to South America and it is grown other countries in the southern hemisphere – throughout the Caribbean, and in the Philippines. It has many names. It is most commonly called uraro in the Philippines, while other names include West-Indian arrowroot, cara maco, sagu, arruruz, araru, or yuquill.
Arrowroot powder or flour is considered to be one of the best carbohydrate sources because of its ability to mix well with many other food ingredients, and because it can be easily digested. It is a fine white powder that is odorless, and it is often used as a thickening agent in many foods, including baby formula. The starch in arrowroot helps the body maintain a healthy pH balance.
What is the nutritional value of arrowroot?
My research turned up some surprising nutritional information about arrowroot, and some really great health benefits that are largely a direct result of the nutritional profile.
- contains protein – in fact, it is higher in protein than other food sources that are common in tropical countries, such as yams, potatoes, plantains or cassava. Protein performs many tasks in your body.
- does not contain gluten, which makes it ideal for people that are celiac or simply gluten intolerant.
- is high in folate, also known as folic acid or vitamin B9.
- contains Vitamins A and C – both are antioxidants.
- is a good source of other B-complex vitamins.
- has a high mineral content – which provides many health benefits
- is low calorie – lower than potatoes, yams or cassava.
7 major health benefits that are little known:
1. Builds healthy cells. The protein in arrowroot supports the building of healthy cells, tissues and organs.
2. Balances blood sugar. Protein is a nutritional component that keeps blood sugar balanced by slowing the digestion of the food you eat.
3. Helps maintain healthy cells and DNA. Folate is the nutrient that supports this, particularly in the cells of the nervous system. Folate also helps with protein metabolism.
4. Supports your immune system. The antioxidants contained in arrowroot neutralize free radicals, prevent damage to your cells and help to keep your immune system healthy.
5. Helps to maintain a healthy nervous system, healthy metabolism and enzyme production and more – because of the plentiful amount of B-complex vitamins:
a. Riboflavin (B2) helps skin, hair, nails, vision and healthy growth.
b. Niacin (B3) helps transform food into usable energy for the body.
c. Thiamine (B1) promotes healthy digestion.
d. Pyridoxine (B6) helps with the cardiovascular system, as well as the nervous system.
e. Pantothenic acid (B5) helps with metabolism of fat, protein and carbohydrates.
6. Maintains healthy blood cells and circulation, proper fluid balance, supports collagen production in connective tissue, and more. All are related to the incredible mineral content:
a. Copper and iron – two very important components of healthy blood cells. They help with the body’s blood circulation and energy by delivering nutrients to the cells and organs, including the brain.
b. Manganese – an important component of collagen which is found in your hair, skin, nails and bones. Also helps control blood sugar.
c. Zinc – helps maintain the body’s immune system, and stimulates many of the body’s enzyme reactions.
d. Potassium – important in helping the body maintain proper fluid balance and supports healthy heart rate and blood pressure.
e. Phosphorous – is beneficial for the kidneys and for healthy nerve function. Also combines with calcium to build strong bones.
f. Magnesium – supports healthy nerve and muscle functioning, builds and maintains strong bones and helps keep the immune system at peak performance.
g. Selenium – an antioxidant that helps vitamins C and E by working to regenerate those nutrients.
7. Contains a form of starch that helps the body maintain optimal pH balance. Having a healthy pH balance is very important for many reasons. Your body has a tolerance for a certain pH range. Optimally, the pH balance should be towards alkaline end of the range. When the balance shifts towards the acidic end of the range, it becomes a very unhealthy situation. Recent medical research is showing that cancer cells thrive and reproduce in an acidic environment, and will perish in an alkaline environment. Good reason to maintain an slightly alkaline pH balance!
Are there any cautions with arrowroot?
There is one caution that I encountered in my research. When purchasing arrowroot flour or powder – be sure you are getting a pure product. Apparently there is some concern about other ingredients being mixed in with arrowroot, such as corn starch or potato starch. The other ingredients do not have the same high nutritional value, could be high glycemic and would reduce the healthy properties of the arrowroot.
…arrowroot is a nutritional powerhouse with a lot more than 7 health benefits, as indicated above. In a very brief summary – arrowroot flour (powder) is a gluten free flour that contains protein and loads of vitamins and minerals which help the digestive system, cardiovascular system, and the nervous system, as well as helping to stabilize blood sugar. For those who are pre-diabetic, diabetic, and/or not able to consume gluten – it presents a new option for making your own healthy, low glycemic baked goods. As for me, I see some new kitchen experiments in my future!
If you are struggling because you are not sure what foods to eat that will keep your blood sugar balanced, or if you are having a challenge with healthy. gluten free food – contact me. We can have a chat and get you moving forward positively, so that you can have the BEST health ever!
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