Is Cassava Flour Keto-Friendly?
Cassava flour, or tapioca flour, has become a popular gluten-free alternative to wheat flour.
But is cassava flour keto-friendly? No, cassava root is high in net carbs and can quickly interfere with fat-burning and disrupt ketosis.
Find out why cassava isn’t suitable for keto and which low-carb flour alternatives you can use for your keto baking recipes.
What is cassava?
Cassava, or yuca, is a starchy, tuberous root vegetable widely cultivated in tropical and subtropical regions worldwide.
Cassava roots are long and tapered and need to be cooked before consumption due to the presence of cyanogenic glycosides, which are toxic if ingested raw.
Because cassava is gluten- and grain-free, it has become a popular alternative to regular flour for individuals with Celiac disease and those following the paleo diet.
Most grocery stores offer a range of cassava products, including cassava flours, milled cassava, and cassava chips. In addition, cassava is also used to produce tapioca, a popular Taiwanese dessert and bubble tea ingredient.
Watch the video below to learn why cassava flour isn’t considered keto-friendly.
How many carbs are in cassava flour?
The carbohydrate content of cassava flour can vary depending on the brand and exact processing method.
According to data published by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), one cup (128 grams) of cassava flour typically contains:
0 g total fat
3 g protein
112 g total carbs
12 g fiber
100 g net carbs
You may have heard cassava is a rich source of resistant starches and has a low glycemic index and glycemic load—a set of measures indicating how quickly a food raises blood sugar and insulin levels.
However, this is inaccurate. A study published in The British Journal of Nutrition found that processed cassava has a glycemic index (GI) of 94. That’s almost as high as pure glucose, which has a GI of 100.
Is cassava flour keto-approved?
Is cassava keto-friendly? No, cassava isn’t a suitable choice for the keto diet.
Cassava flour is high in carbs, and consuming cassava-containing foods can quickly exceed your daily net carb count, which can interfere with ketone production and may inhibit or slow down ketosis.
To maintain ketosis and keep your metabolism in fat-burning mode, limiting your daily net carb intake to 20 to 50 grams is crucial.
One handful of cassava chips typically has around 20 net carbs, and one medium-sized slice of cassava bread can contain as much as 38 grams of net carbs.
In addition, it’s important to remember that tapioca is a starchy liquid extracted from cassava roots, which explains why tapioca isn’t keto-friendly.
More reasons to avoid cassava flour
Cassava is a significant source of carbs and can spike insulin and blood sugar levels. This can contribute to weight gain, inflammation, and hormonal imbalance and may increase the risk of metabolic syndrome and diabetes.
“Regularly consuming sugars and carbs can lead to vitamin deficiencies,” explains Dr. Berg. “Your body relies on vitamin B1, also known as thiamine, to process carbohydrates, and a high-carb diet can quickly result in vitamin B1 deficiency.”
And, what’s more, research published in Sustainability found that cassava contains cyanogenic glycosides, a group of sugar-based molecules that can inactivate vitamin B1 in the body.
Because cassava both depletes and inactivates vitamin B1, dietary intake of this root vegetable can greatly increase the risk of thiamine deficiency.
Thiamine plays a crucial role in energy production processes and maintaining normal nervous system functions, and a deficiency can result in a range of adverse health effects.
Here are common symptoms of thiamine deficiency:
Tingling sensation in hands and feet
Lack of concentration and brain fog
If you suspect that you may be at risk of vitamin B1 deficiency, it’s crucial to consult with a healthcare provider to evaluate the potential cause of your symptoms and develop an appropriate treatment plan.
Keto-friendly flour alternatives
There are plenty of keto-friendly flours that are perfect for a nutritious low-carb diet like Healthy Keto®.
Here are five keto alternatives to cassava.
1. Almond flour
Because of its low carb content, almond flour is the best flour for baking.
A quarter cup (28 grams) of almond flour contains less than three net carbs, making it a keto-approved flour substitute that works great in baked goods and is an excellent low-carb alternative to breadcrumbs.
2. Sunflower seed flour
Sunflower seed flour is low in carbs and contains only around two net carbs per quarter cup.
Sunflower seeds are a rich source of healthy fats, vitamin E, and phytochemicals and offer many health benefits.
A study published in Chemistry Central Journal found that “The sunflower seed contains antioxidant, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, antihypertensive, wound-healing, and cardiovascular benefits in its phenolic compounds, flavonoids, polyunsaturated fatty acids, and vitamins.”
Sunflower seed flour has a nutty flavor, which can be delicious in keto pizza crusts or low-carb waffle recipes.
3. Pecan flour
Pecan flour is low in net carbs, making it a suitable option that you can use in keto recipes, similar to using other flours.
Its fine texture and nutty flavor are ideal for fluffy low-carb pancakes and keto cake recipes and work great as a thickening agent for sauces, stews, and soups.
Pecan flour is also a good source of healthy fats, dietary fiber, and essential nutrients like vitamin E and magnesium.
4. Coconut flour
Coconut flour contains around four net carbs per quarter cup, making it a lower-carb alternative to cassava and other high-carb flour.
Coconut flour helps to thicken recipes, makes a delicious coating for chicken, shrimp, or fish, and is the perfect flour for keto coconut tortillas.
5. Flax meal
Flax meal is a fine powder made from ground flaxseeds.
Flaxseed meal contains almost equal amounts of carbs and dietary fiber and has a net carb count of zero. This makes it an excellent choice for those on a low-carb ketogenic diet.
Flax meal is a versatile ingredient for various keto recipes, especially baking. Use it alongside GMO-free xanthan gum to make keto-friendly flaxseed bread, granola bars, muffins, or wraps.
Is cassava flour keto-friendly? No, one cup of cassava flour contains as much as 100 grams of net carbs, which can quickly exceed your daily net carb count and disrupt fat-burning and ketosis.
Luckily, there are several keto-approved alternatives that you can enjoy on a low-carb diet, such as almond flour, coconut flour, pecan flour, flax meal, and sunflower seed flour.
1. Is cassava flour keto-friendly?
No, cassava flour is not keto-friendly. Cassava is a starch-based root vegetable high in net carbs, making it unsuitable for a keto diet.
2. Is cassava flour low in carbs?
Cassava isn’t considered a low-carb ingredient. One cup (128 grams) of cassava flour contains around 100 grams of net carbs. That’s more than a cup of regular white wheat flour, which has 92 grams of net carbs per cup.
3. Does cassava flour spike blood sugar?
Yes, cassava can spike blood sugar and insulin levels due to its high carb content. People following keto and those at risk of metabolic imbalances such as insulin resistance, diabetes, and obesity should avoid cassava-containing products.
4. What is a keto substitute for cassava flour?
There are plenty of keto-friendly alternatives to cassava flour, including coconut flour, pecan flour, almond flour, flax meal, and sunflower seed flour.
5. What is the downside of cassava flour?
Cassava is high in carbs, which can cause blood sugar spikes and contribute to weight gain, insulin resistance, and diabetes.
In addition, cassava has been found to deplete and inactivate vitamin B1 in the body, significantly increasing the risk of vitamin B1 deficiency symptoms, including muscle weakness, memory issues, and neurological problems.
6. Is cassava flour high in carbs?
Yes, cassava flour is very high in carbs. In fact, it contains more net carbs than regular white flour. One medium-sized slice of cassava bread contains as much as 38 grams of net carbs.
7. How much cassava flour can you use on a keto diet?
Because cassava flour is a high-carb ingredient, it’s best to avoid cassava as much as possible. One cup of cassava flour contains around 100 grams of net carbs, which can quickly push you out of ketosis and block your body's ability to burn fat as an energy source.
8. What is the glycemic index of cassava flour?
Cassava has a glycemic index of 94, which indicates that it can cause significant spikes in blood sugar and insulin levels, making it incompatible with a low-carb ketogenic diet.