Arrowroot, which is a plant, can be consumed and at the same time used as a nutritional food for infants and for people recovering from illness.
It is also used for stomach and intestinal disorders, including diarrhoea.
In Rwanda, it’s locally available and affordable at the same time.
Rene Tabaro, a nutritionist at Oshen-King Faisal Hospital, says arrowroot is one of the starch tubers which provide numerous health benefits for the body.
He says some of the health advantages of the arrowroot include, circulation issues.
He explains that the rich nutrient mixture in arrowroots comprises of high levels of iron and copper.
“The two elements form part of the red blood cells. Arrowroots help in preventing anaemia and other blood circulation related difficulties,” he says.
For metabolic processes, he says arrowroots have high vitamin B concentration which makes it an important enzymatic and metabolic substance.
It helps in regulating processes in the human body.
Besides, he says, the root is also helpful when it comes to preventing birth defects.
Here, he explains that folate, present in vitamin B is present in arrowroots, and the component is important for expectant mothers and can help prevent neural tube defects.
Studies have shown that folate is important for expecting mothers, as it can help to prevent neural tube defects in their unborn child.
Folate is also an important factor in DNA synthesis and healthy cell division, thereby promoting rapid healing and healthy growth.
The root is also loaded with magnesium, zinc, and iron that all promote growth and development.
“Arrowroot powder is one of the best substitutes for breast milk. It is effective in curing diarrhoea, bronchitis, and cough in infants. When milk teeth erupt, it may cause irritation and pain in the gums,” he says.
Joseph Uwiragiye, head of nutrition department at University Teaching Hospital of Kigali (CHUK), says arrowroots are good when it comes to stomach health.
He says arrowroot is a gluten-free substance – prevents gastrointestinal discomfort, pain, and danger that those handling gluten intolerance must face every day.
He further notes that arrowroot, unlike other vegetable tubers, contains a high level of protein which aid in building the body and other tissues.
Additionally, he says, protein is used to make enzymes and hormones.
For those struggling with weight loss, Uwiragiye notes that arrowroot is extremely low in calories as compared to other starches like yams, potatoes and cassava.
For this reason, he says, people trying to remain on a diet can get complex carbohydrates and a wealth of nutrients, as well as a healthy dose of dietary fibre, and eliminate the desire to snack between meals, thus, maintaining a healthy weight.
He adds that consuming arrowroot fills you up and gives you the minerals and vitamins your body needs.
Private Kamanzi, a nutritionist at Amazon Cabinet Clinic in Remera, says regular consumption of arrowroots can help solve digestion problems.
He explains that dietary fibre in the arrowroot is one of the most important parts of our digestive process, as it helps move food through the bowels in an efficient manner, while also stimulating the uptake of nutrients.
Arrowroot also helps in reducing the effect of constipation and controlling the level of blood sugar.
Kamanzi says the significant levels of potassium found in arrowroot mean that it can be a definite line of defence against heart-related issues.
“Potassium is a vasodilator, meaning that it relaxes the tension in the blood vessels and arteries, thereby lowering blood pressure and reducing your risk of atherosclerosis heart attacks, and strokes,” he says.
Potassium is also known as a cognitive enhancer, promoting the flow of oxygenated blood to the brain.
Meanwhile, he says, the starchy content and mild flavour of arrowroot make it a safe ingredient in baby foods, including teething cookies for babies.
He says the root also poses little to no risk of allergies and is ideally a gum-soothing food.
Apart from that, Tabaro says arrowroot also helps fight various foodborne pathogens such as salmonella virus, preparing the body’s defence system against various diseases and disorders.
Kamanzi says arrowroot has a good amount of protein present in it. By increasing dietary intake of plant proteins, which are easier to process than animal proteins, he says one can be guaranteed healthy growth and development.