Gluten-free cooking is as popular as ever and an increase in demand for gluten-free food items and ingredients. Due to wheat flour supposedly containing gluten, people started looking for alternative ingredients for their gluten-free recipes. It is a known fact that potatoes do not have any gluten in them and logically speaking, starch derived from potatoes should also be gluten-free. In this article, we will look into the benefits of potato starch and other details on this gluten free good ingredient.
Potato Starch: A Brief Overview
As stated earlier, it is one of the main ingredients for gluten-free cooking. Before discussing what potato starch is in detail, though, let us first look at what starch is. Starch is a substance produced by plants that can be described as white, odorless and tasteless. It is then the starch produced by the potato plant.
Potatoes are not a grain and are classified more as vegetables which means it contains various vitamins, minerals, and nutrients such as vitamins C and B, copper, zinc, potassium, calcium, magnesium, iron, and phosphorus. However, it would be wrong to assume that potato starch will have all of the aforementioned vitamins, minerals listed above as a tablespoon of potato starch has zero (0) grams of fiber, zero (0) grams of fat, zero (0) grams of protein, ten (10) grams of carbohydrates and forty (40) Calories. Despite this low nutritional content of potato starch, it does have its health benefits and advantages.
The Health Benefits of Potato Starch
As mentioned in the previous section of this article, potato starch may not be as its actual vegetable counterpart which is whole potatoes. However, this does not mean that it does not have any health benefits or advantages for people who wish to improve their overall health and wellness. Listed below are some of these health benefits:
Helps manage blood sugar
Potato starch is considered a resistant type of starch and may have properties that help manage and control blood sugar levels in individuals particularly for those suffering from type 2 diabetes. These resistant starches are so-called resistant as they can move through the digestive system of the body without being changed or transformed much. Aside from this, unripe bananas can also be classified as resistant starches. A study conducted in 2010 observed if the symptoms of metabolic syndrome can actually be alleviated by consuming resistant starches. It indeed showed that patients or individuals who consumed more resistant starches had better or increased sensitivity to insulin and regulated blood sugar levels.
Aids the body in boosting its good bacteria levels
Due to potato starch being a resistant starch, evidence suggests that it can serve as a prebiotic or in other words, it helps feed the good bacteria in an individual’s gut or stomach. This results in the fermentation of the resistant starch in the digestive tract producing fatty acids that are beneficial for the propagation of good bacteria.
Those who wish to pursue a gluten-free lifestyle will benefit greatly from potato starch as it is gluten-free. On top of that, its gluten-free quality is all natural and is not genetically modified or artificially created.
Convenient and easy to cook with
Potato starch has some exceptional cooking characteristics such as good clarity, high level of binding strength, neutral taste, and the minimal instance of turning yellow while being cooked.
Some Disadvantages of Potato Starch
Potato starch does have some health benefits and advantages. However, individuals interested in using it for their gluten-free recipes should also be aware of the following possible disadvantages of potato starch:
Low nutritional value
As mentioned earlier, potato starch has a low nutritional value. While its source, which is potato, is packed with nutrients, it only has carbohydrates as its essential nutrient. It would have been ideal if it also had other nutrients to increase its health benefits.
Prone to genetic modifications
It is composed of two (2) main components which are 80% amylopectin and 20% amylose. Generally speaking, amylose is the basic component of potato starch that is undesirable. It can encourage gelling when it is mixed in with other substances. As such, its manufacturers may resort to genetically modified potatoes which will only have amylopectin.
How to Use It with Other Healthy Substitutes
Potato Starch is affordable and sold in most online shops, groceries, and health specialty stores. Some stores may claim to have it when in fact, they only have potato flour, a substance that is quite different from it. In these instances, the buyer must carefully read the packaging and ensure that the product he or she is buying is indeed potato starch. Buyers should also make sure that they will only be buying organic variants of the potato starch and avoid genetically modified it.
It can usually be used to thicken puddings, stews, and soups and can be used for different baking recipes. It should not be boiled when being used to thicken liquid concoctions as it may take longer to actually thicken the liquid with boiling potato starch. Potato flour may also be used to replace it if it is not available.
A healthy substitute to potato starch is arrowroot starch and cornstarch that is free from any GMO or genetically modified organism. These alternatives are also gluten-free and have an increased nutritional value or content compared to potatoes. Another advantage of cornstarch over it is that it has less likelihood of forming clumps when being used to thicken liquids. Liquids that are dairy-based respond better to cornstarch while liquids that are acid-based respond better to arrowroot starch. Both cornstarch and arrowroot starch can be used as a healthy alternative to potato starch.