Almond flour, coconut flour, sweet potato flour—in the world of Paleo, substituting for standard grain-based flour can be a real task. What do you choose? Where do you find it? And when you do find it, how do you know that you’re not just substituting one inflammatory flour for another? Some vouch for sweet potato flour as a reliable ingredient in any Paleo recipe, but should we really be tossing this into our cooking and baking?
Sweet potato flour is produced from—you guessed it—sweet potatoes. Both white and orange ones are used to create flour, which retains some sweetness even after being ground down. Regardless, sweet potato itself is generally widely accepted in the Paleo community.
In fact, sweet potatoes have been demonstrated in numerous studies to have a whole host of beneficial effects, including cancer prevention, the ability to regulate and downgrade inflammation, and (despite their sugary contents) helping to regulate insulin control. They’re a great source of potassium, and you get much more than your regular daily dose of vitamin A after eating just one medium sweet potato. All this on top of considerable helpings of vitamins C and D, riboflavin, and iron.
But that’s just sweet potatoes, right? We’re talking flour here.
Actually, it turns out that as long as you’re careful, you’ll be getting just about the same nutrients if you buy sweet potato flour as you would from eating a regular sweet potato. That being said, there’s probably cause to say we can safely use some of this grain-free powder in our Paleo cooking, right?
What Do Other Paleo Experts Say?
The Paleo Mom says: “Sweet potato powder [often called sweet potato flour] is ground dried sweet potatoes and still retains its orange color (sweet potato starch is white). This is a more interesting flour because it has some fiber and can absorb liquid so it has more ability to hold baking together. I have used it in pancakes and have played with it as a flour substitute for brownies. I’m still getting familiar with this flour, but it’s definitely a neat one to play with.”
Sebastien Noel says: “’Safe starches’…(especially sweet potatoes) and other starchy tubers are therefore a perfectly acceptable element of a healthy, evolutionarily-based diet for someone with no (or few) metabolic problems.”
Is Sweet Potato Flour Paleo?
By and large, if you pick up a pound of sweet potato flour, you’re on track for some great, toxin-free nutrients that won’t cause your body any harm. However, do be aware of what you’re buying and, as always, check the label. It’s not unheard of for flours to contain more than just their derivative part—if your sweet potato flour actually has some regular, processed wheat-based flour in it, then it’s a no-go. In general, aim for orange-tinted flour and check to be sure that what you’re toting home is pure, 100% sweet potato.