Arrowroot is a root vegetable and an edible rhizome native to America and the West Indies. It is larger as compared to the other root vegetables. You can find it fresh in the market or as a dried powder. You can also use it as a substitute for cornstarch.
The scientific name of the arrowroot is Maranta Arundinacea. According to a study, this vegetable is very popularly used in many sweet and savoury dishes and contains medicinal properties. It has high protein content. It is also rich in folate (vitamin B9), an essential vitamin for pregnant women. Folate ensures proper fetal development during pregnancy. Arrowroot is also rich in iron and phosphorus. It is ideal for children and older adults as it is effortless to digest.
When harvested, it looks just like other underground tubers such as cassava, yucca or kudzu. It is also oblong, similar to underground tubers. However, its extraction is through more uncomplicated and more traditional methods. There is no use of high heat or harsh chemicals.
Nutritional Value of Arrowroot
100 grams of arrowroot contains:
Dietary fibre: 1.3g
10 Benefits of Adding Arrowroot to Your Diet
1. Assists in Weight Loss
Arrowroot powder is mainly resistant to starch, which the body does not absorb or digest. According to research, it has 32% of resistant starch. Because of this, the starch acts like soluble fibre in the gut when mixed with water. This same property gives you a prolonged feeling of fullness. Also, the protein content in arrowroot can also help you feel satiated. As a result, it can help you regulate your appetite and gradually lead to weight loss.
Wheat flour and some other grains contain gluten, which can have allergy symptoms. If you are allergic to gluten or corn, you can substitute your wheat flour with arrowroot flour, especially in the case of celiac disease. It is a versatile vegetable that can replace corn starch. Furthermore, it mixes well with almond or coconut flour for baking bread, cookies, and other recipes. You can also use it to thicken various gravies and sauces.
3. Improves Cognitive Skills
Arrowroot can be a great vegetable to include in your kids’ diet because it has incredible health benefits. It also helps improve cognitive skills.
Cognitive skills require a healthy brain function like working memory, recognition, language etc. Arrowroot enhances their psychological capacity and overall mental development.
The vegetable is full of zinc, potassium and iron, which promote healthy growth and development of the brain. As per a study, it can also be beneficial in the case of many neurological disorders, which include impaired brain development. It also works to advance focus and concentration effectively, promoting better cognizance.
4. Vitamin B Storehouse
Arrowroot is an excellent source of vitamin B in the form of riboflavin and niacin. Niacin helps lower cholesterol, ease arthritis pains, and reduce inflammation. Moreover, it can also reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
Arrowroot also contains folate, which is a vitamin B-complex. It helps prevent anaemia and is also essential in healthy natal growth. It has 338 mcg of folate per serving (100g), facilitating red blood cell formation, cell division and growth. The presence of niacin removes the symptoms of Pellagra, thus eliminating diarrhoea, dementia, dermatitis, and death. Furthermore, the presence of folate is essential for the average growth and development of the foetus. Therefore, arrowroot prevents neural tube defects in infants.
5. Good for the Heart
Arrowroot is rich in potassium. Several studies suggest that consuming potassium can be pretty beneficial for the heart. Potassium acts as a vasodilator, reducing blood pressure and the risk of stroke or heart attacks. It also eliminates the threat posed by atherosclerosis.
Studies have established the fact that potassium also promotes a healthy oxygen flow to the brain, enhancing brain activity and functioning. It also reduces cholesterol levels because it is rich in bioactive compounds. These compounds include alkaloids, phenolic compounds, flavones, and saponins. Furthermore, they help maintain lipid profiles in dyslipidaemia patients. As a result, taking arrowroot is suggested for good heart health.
6. Good for Infants
Arrowroot helps increase the absorption rate of many essential nutrients and promotes healthy growth and development in infants. It is a substitute for breast milk. Also, many arrowroot snacks can help control diarrhoea, bronchitis, and cough in infants. It can also help to reduce pain in the gums during the teething period.
You can bake arrowroot cookies to soothe their irritability and discomfort. It is a delicious portion of food full of all essential nutrients.
7. Good Blood Circulation
Arrowroot is rich in B-complex, copper and iron. As per research, these minerals are essential for forming red blood cells. These nutrients are necessary for proper blood flow to and from many vital organs.
It also contains iron, which helps form haemoglobin and helps transport oxygen. Iron binds to the fresh oxygen and helps transport it to other organs and cells in the body. Having low iron in the blood can lead to poor oxygen supply and even contribute to the development of anaemia. Thus, arrowroot eliminates the symptoms of anaemia, fatigue, and weakness.
You can have health drinks that contain arrowroot to build stamina and endurance.
8. May Lower Cholesterol
Consuming arrowroot can help lower blood cholesterol levels.
Arrowroot promotes bile production in the liver. According to a study, increased bile synthesis helps to catabolise the cholesterol in the blood, therefore reducing its levels.
It also has many bioactive compounds like phenolic compounds, flavonoids, alkaloids and saponins. These compounds help maintain a healthy cholesterol level in the body and are very beneficial for hypercholesterolemia patients.
9. Improves Kidney Health
Arrowroot is full of potassium which is known to clear toxins and other stress-causing agents and compounds from the kidney system. It may also help to improve the urinary tract health and improve kidney functioning in filtering out waste. It also helps to boost immunity and keep the blood pressure in check.
10. Skin Benefits
Arrowroot has many skin healing properties because of its antioxidants, proteins and vitamins. It can be quite beneficial in treating skin conditions like blemishes, acne scars, and dark spots. You can apply it topically for getting maximum benefits.
According to research, antioxidants help remove the dead skin cells, exposing new, healthy skin cells. The antioxidants also help reduce the number of free radicals, reducing oxidative stress in the cells. The oxidative stress of these free radicals reacts with the oxygen molecule and deprives healthy cells of fresh oxygen. As a result, arrowroot improves cell health.
Uses of Arrowroot
You can use arrowroot as a vegetable and cook the root itself. However, it’s more common use is as a powder. It thickens gravies, puddings, jellies and sauces. In addition, it can serve as a replacement for cornstarch and wheat flour in case of gluten allergy.
It serves as an ingredient in baking and for desserts. For example, you can add it to fruit pies, custards and puddings to give a glossy finish.
You can use arrowroot powder to dust tofu, beef or other proteins and the stir-fry or deep fry or cook in any other way to give it a much crispier exterior.
You can also use it to make acidic sauces like cranberry sauce and even homemade ice cream. It is an excellent ingredient to give structure to ice creams and puddings.
It also has many cosmetic applications due to its oil-absorbing property. Some popular uses are:
As dry shampoo
It can also be used topically in face masks to improve skin health and reduce dark spots.
Possible Side Effects
Arrowroot is a very safe ingredient to use, but it might cause some stomach discomfort and constipation.
If you consider using it for infants as a food formula, it is essential to consult a doctor before it might cause an allergic reaction.
There are not many known side effects of this root vegetable, and it is considered very safe and doesn’t have any adverse effects or interact badly with any drugs or chemicals.
Arrowroot is an exciting root vegetable that you can use as a cornstarch substitute. It has many health benefits because it is rich in essential minerals. As a result, it ensures proper bodily functions and improves overall health. Also, adding arrowroot to your diet can be beneficial if you are allergic to gluten.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. What are the benefits of arrowroot?
A. Arrowroot can help lower blood pressure and improve cardiovascular health because of the high potassium levels in the vegetable. It is also high in antioxidants which can reduce oxidative stress in cells.
Q. What is arrowroot called in India?
A. In India, it is commonly known as “Kooya.” Some other names are arrowroot powder, Araruta, Indian arrowroot, and Araru.
Q. Are arrowroot and cornstarch the same?
A. Arrowroot and cornstarch are very similar in texture and can substitute in many recipes. Both are gluten-free and highly nutritious. You can use arrowroot instead of cornstarch if you are allergic to corn.
Q. Are tapioca and arrowroot the same?
A. Arrowroot and tapioca are both quite similar in texture. However, these extractions are from different root vegetables, and both are gluten-free.
Q. How do you use arrowroot?
A. It is very commonly used in its powder and flour form. In addition, you can use it for baking, thickening the gravy, and gluten-free cooking.
Q. Does arrowroot raise blood sugar?
A. Yes, arrowroot is high in carbohydrate content and has a high glycaemic index. Because of this, it can convert complex carbohydrates into blood sugar (glucose). Therefore, it is not suitable for diabetic patients.
Q. What is an arrowroot flour substitute?
A. You can substitute arrowroot flour with tapioca powder, corn starch, or Xanthan Gum. All these have a very similar texture, and we often use them in cooking.
A. Yes, you can substitute corn flour with arrowroot as both are very similar in texture and have relatively identical use. The amount of cornflour should be equal to the amount of arrowroot. However, it does not hold well in freezers and may break down in acidic dishes.
Q. Which is better, arrowroot or cornstarch?
A. Both are highly nutritious and have the same purpose in cooking. However, unlike corn starch, arrowroot doesn’t contain any GMO derivatives and is a better organic choice.
Q. Is arrowroot the same as baking soda?
A. No, arrowroot is not the same as baking soda. Arrowroot is a starch base used for thickening, and baking soda is bicarbonate used for leavening in baked goods.
Q. What is arrowroot used for medically?
A. It can help assist in weight loss, support the immune system, fight diarrhoea, improve cholesterol levels. The antioxidants can also help to reduce dark spots.
Q. Is arrowroot good for high blood pressure?
A. Yes, arrowroot contains potassium which acts as a vasodilator. This property helps in proper blood flow and decreases blood pressure.
Q. Is arrowroot alkaline or acidic?
A. Arrowroot contains calcium ash which is alkaline. Therefore, it helps maintain pH balance in the body. Once digested, it has an 8.0 pH level.
Q. What is arrowroot powder used for?
A. You can use it as a thickener similar to corn starch. It also has many DIY cosmetic uses like dry shampoo, deodorant ingredients, etc.
Q. Is it safe to eat arrowroot powder?
A. Yes, arrowroot powder is safe to consume and has many health benefits. In addition, it doesn’t have any known side effects.
Q. Does arrowroot thicken hair?
A. There is no known evidence to prove that arrowroot helps thicken hair. However, it has many skin benefits.
Q. Is arrowroot good for skin?
A. Yes, arrowroot has many antioxidants which can help improve skin cell health and reduce dark spots. In addition, it can help lighten the scars and remove dead skin cells, which expose new healthy cells.