If you are on a vegan (plant-based) diet, KETO diet or you are allergic to eggs, you have surely heard of aquafaba. The magic liquid that was discovered only in 2014 but it already got super popular. It is mainly used in the vegan community worldwide.
But what is aquafaba? How is it made? How it can be used in cooking? What are the health benefits and nutrition facts?
Is it actually healthy? Or should you avoid it?
What is actually aquafaba?
The name aquafaba is a combination of two Latin words, aqua, and faba. Aqua means water and faba mean beans.
Aquafaba is basically water (fluid) in which legumes like beans, or chickpeas have been cooked. It contains micro chemicals like saponins that are helping it to foam.
The consistency and taste of aquafaba depend on the length of soaking and cooking the legumes. As well ass the type of the legumes used. The best quality aquafaba is made out of chickpeas or white beans.
1 tablespoon of aquafaba contains between 3 to 5 calories from 1% of proteins and a minimum of minerals like calcium or iron.
For now, there is no specific research that would show other nutrients or health benefits of aquafaba. As it is very poor in nutrients it is definitely not recommended to use and eat it regularly instead of eggs.
Aquafaba doesn’t contain any notable nutrients and it doesn’t have any significant health benefits.
NOTE: The only people who can somewhat benefit from aquafaba are people suffering from a PKU.
How can aquafaba be used?
Since its discovery by a vegan French musician Joël Roessel in 2014, it has found its way to many vegan and vegetarian recipes. Aquafaba is mainly used as an egg replacement in dishes like vegan mayonnaise, vegan meringue, or vegan macaroons.
Also, it can be used in making vegan ice creams, frostings or even marshmallows.
The biggest risks of aquafaba.
So far there were only several pieces of research made. But what is clear from the beginning is that not every aquafaba is equal and good for our health.
When you cook legumes at home you follow the basic principles. You soak the legumes for a longer time period (10-12 hours at least) and rinse them very well under running water afterward. Also, you skim off all the foam that appears on the top during cooking (this is the same step as you would follow during cooking stock from meat or bones).
At the end of the cooking, you drain the legumes and rinse them under cold water once again. So yes during home cooking you are actually discarding the aquafaba.
But when the legumes are produced in factories the production looks kind of like this. The legumes are washed, cooked for several hours and then poured hot boiling directly into the cans. There is no second rinsing or washing after cooking and the aquafaba stays.
Also, be aware that the majority of cans are filled with a thin layer of plastic containing BPA or BPS chemicals. Those are very dangerous for humans and can cause immunity and neurological problems or even cardiovascular diseases.
So when you look closer at the two production processes you see, that in the first one there is actually no aquafaba kept and eaten at all.
The aquafaba is kept only during the industrialized production.
What else are the negatives of eating aquafaba?
Aquafaba can cause gassiness.
Besides the BPA/BPS chemicals from cans, hormones from pesticides, it can also contain a lot of sodium from low-quality salt used during the production.
It is low in nutrients and has no added value to our diet.
Aquafaba isn’t appealing. To be very honest I haven’t heard about people that would voluntarily drink water from cooked legumes like chickpeas. So why would you actually use it for cooking or baking?
Since the aquafaba was found, it has indeed become very popular. Many people especially vegans around the world are using it in a lot of dishes.
As it still grows in popularity there will be a lot of new information revealed in the upcoming years. Maybe they will show a superb health benefit or a very valuable nutrient that we do not know about yet.
But until then, it will be better to avoid it. You can’t be sure of the origin of the legumes and their production. Also, the chemicals in cans or plastic wraps can cause you very serious diseases.
So if you want to cook something vegan and you need to replace the egg, use one made from ground flaxseed or applesauce.