What’s in an Arrowroot?

4 April 2017

Arrowroots are a common feature for folks living in the rural areas.They are either part of the breakfast, lunch or dinner. In the urban areas, it is a highly priced commodity both due to its high nutritional value and also its scarcity.

How much do we really know about it? Let’s learn together.

What is an arrow root?

An Arrowroot is starch rich, creeping underground rhizome belonging to the Marantaceae family plants. It is widely cultivated in the Philippines, Caribbean islands, and South America for its fine, easily digestible edible starchy tubers.

When Europeans first encountered arrowroot, the Arawak Indians informed them that it was called aru-aru, “meal of meals.” The Indians placed a high value on the root as a food, and the Europeans duly brought it back with them along with numerous other unusual plants and animals.

Arrowroots were also used as medicine, with some Indians believing that when placed on wounds made from poisoned arrows to it draws out the poison.

In Africa, arrowroots were brought in through colonization and are now grown in different countries including Kenya.

Health Benefits of Arrowroots

One of the healthiest foods especially for diabetic patients is arrowroot. It contains about 23% starch and can be consumed in the form of sauces, jellies, biscuits, cakes, fruit pie fillings and puddings.

Arrow root has high nutritious content and has many health benefits, such as:-

  •  used for treating bowel problems and is helpful in digestion.
  • It is a good substitute that stops nausea. Other than this, it also has the ability to replenish nutrients lost by vomiting and diarrhea.
  • it is used as an alternative to breast milk. One of the products prepared from arrowroot is jelly which can be used as an infant cereal. This food item is easily digestible as compared to other starches.
  • It was found that the consumption of freshly prepared arrowroot juice is an effective antidote against vegetable poisons. It is also helpful in treating poisoned wounds like spider bites, snake bites and scorpion stings,
  • Arrowroot is beneficial for people who are suffering from certain chronic diseases like bladder irritation or illnesses. Also used in diseases like gangrene can also be treated by taking arrow root in their diet.
  • One of the beneficial uses of arrowroot is, it can be used as a foot powder and can remove the excess moisture, since it is not anti fungal in nature and thus can only be used to control moisture.
  • One of the good points of consuming arrowroot is that it is used in the treatment of smallpox.

How to make arrowroot for a perfect breakfast.


  • 3 arrowroots
  • 2 tomatoes – sliced
  • 1 kg potatoes – peeled and diced
  • 1 onion – sliced.
  • Vegetable oil


  1. Wash the arrowroots thoroughly under running water to remove all the dirt.
  2. Place in a saucepan and cover with water. Place over a high heat and bring to a boil.
  3. Lower heat to medium and cook arrowroots for about 2 hours.
  4. Peel the skin off the arrowroots and set them aside.

At this point the arrowroots are ready to eat, you can serve them with tea or coffee.

Alternatively – continue to cook…

  1. In a frying pan, fry the onions until golden brown. Add the potatoes and then the tomatoes and cook until the potatoes are tender.
  2. Add 1 cup of water and the arrowroots and let the arrowroots simmer for 15 minutes.
  3.  Serve hot.

Arrowroots can also be served with beef stew or chicken stew as the accompaniment.