If you’re an avid follower of the ketogenic diet, you are probably constantly on the hunt for keto-approved alternatives to common pantry staples. Things like bread, pasta, and wheat flour used in baking are all high in carbohydrates and therefore not keto-friendly.
While there are what feels like infinite alternatives to wheat flour on the market, many are not keto-friendly. Those that are, are often also nut-based and an allergy risk such as almond flour. One nut-free alternative is tapioca flour, but is it also keto-friendly, and does it offer any great nutritional benefits? Let’s find out.
What Is Tapioca?
Tapioca is the starch that is derived from the roots of the cassava plant. Cassava is an easily cultivated tuber and a dietary staple throughout South East Asia, Africa, and South America. It has an outward appearance much like a sweet potato, but with thicker skin and white flesh. It also contains double the carbohydrates and calories of a sweet potato.
To make flour, the cassava is pounded or ground to release the liquid within. It is then left until all liquid has evaporated, leaving a fine white powder behind. This is what we know as tapioca flour or tapioca starch, occasionally it may be sold as coarser flakes. Tapioca flour has virtually no taste or smell and its texture is similar to that of cornstarch. It is most often used to make desserts, thicken soups and stews, crumb meats, and more.
Tapioca flour is not to be confused with cassava flour, which is where the entire tuber or root is peeled, dried, and ground into a powder. Cassava is both higher in carbs and nutritional benefits than tapioca flour containing vitamin C, calcium, magnesium, and B group vitamins. Though these nutrients are still in very small amounts compared with other keto-approved flours such as sunflower seed flour.
Popularity Of Tapioca Flour
Tapioca flour has become more popular and easy to source in the past few years. This is largely to its suitability for other diets and dietary needs such as Paleo, Whole30, gluten-free, and celiac. It is easily digested and works well as a flour substitute albeit in moderation - it is very starchy, so can make baked goods hard or chewy if used in excess.
Why Tapioca Flour Is Not Keto Approved
While tapioca may be approved for paleo or the Whole30, it is not ketogenic friendly (nor is cassava flour). It offers limited nutritional value being primarily made up of carbohydrates with virtually no protein. This makes it highly unsuitable for those following a ketogenic diet that focuses on high protein and minimal carbs.
The excessive starch levels make tapioca something to be avoided by diabetics also. It ranks high on the glycemic index scale meaning it can impact negatively on blood sugar levels.
In addition to offering no protein, tapioca is also low in fiber and has negligible amounts of essential vitamins and minerals. It is commonly referred to as ‘empty calories’ meaning it will bump up your caloric intake, but not contribute positively to your overall nutrition.
You may occasionally see a keto-fiber additive in your keto-approved store-bought products that are listed as tapioca fiber. This is generally used as a binder and sweetener with the starch component having been broken down via an enzymatic process. This tapioca by-product is keto-approved, but still lacking in any nutritional value.
So What Are Your Options While Keto?
Before you kick yourself out of ketosis and binge on bread and cakes, there are other keto-approved ways to satiate that carb craving. With Beyond The Equator’s Sunflower Seed Flour, you can create keto-approved, low carb, and high protein treats that are nutritionally beneficial.
Nutritional Benefits Of Sunflower Seed Flour
Our Sunflower Seed Flour is made from finely ground, non-GMO certified sunflower seeds. Sunflower seeds are natural anti-inflammatories and contain a whole host of beneficial vitamins and minerals such as:
- B group vitamins, which contribute to enhanced brain health, boosted energy, and better digestion.
- Vitamin E, which supports healthy immune function.
- Antioxidants such as phenolic acids and flavonoids. These antioxidants have been shown to improve brain health and can help regulate weight.
Sunflower seeds are also allergy-friendly, which means that should you be celiac or allergic to nuts, it is still entirely suitable as a wheat or almond flour alternative.
For the keto-enthusiasts, let’s review the carb and protein contents of tapioca flour and sunflower seed flour in more detail.
Per quarter cup or 32 grams serving, tapioca flour has 23.5 grams of carbohydrates and zero protein. Comparatively, the same amount of sunflower seed flour has just 4 grams of carbohydrates and 8 grams of protein.
This means that not only is it a great low-carb flour alternative, but it will also help you feel fuller for longer.
For a low-carb, high protein peanut butter alternative while keto, don’t forget to try out our range of seed butters too. Your keto-approved, protein-packed PB&J is a real possibility!
Don’t Compromise On Everything While Keto
So while a popular bubble milk tea with tapioca balls will still be out of the question for keto followers, a delicious sweet treat may not. A simple switch to sunflower seed flour enables you to still enjoy cookies, cakes, pizza, and more. As a bonus, the low starch and carb content of sunflower seed flour also means less chewy or hard baking results, something tapioca flour cannot provide.
Be sure to check out our range of recipes, virtually all of these can be tweaked to be keto-friendly as well as allergy-friendly or vegan. Ensuring no one is left out regardless of their dietary needs.
At Beyond The Equator our goal is to have you enjoy your food without compromising on taste or nutrition. Our mission is to continue to innovate how we source ingredients and provide alternates that are allergy-friendly, delicious, and healthy. We’re hoping to contribute to a changing narrative about healthy food being boring or flavorless. Try our great range of keto-friendly approved products today!