What Is Aquafaba? + How To Use It As An Egg Substitute
Finding comparable ingredient replacements on a plant-based or allergy-friendly diet can be difficult. Some substitutes leave baked goods too dry, dense, or crumbly. Those that work well can be overpriced or hard to find in a traditional grocery store. Thanks to aquafaba, though, a quality egg replacement is as affordable as a can of beans.
While the name may sound unfamiliar, most people have owned—and even thrown away—aquafaba without realizing its potential. Registered dietitians explain what it is and how it can be used.
What is aquafaba?
Aquafaba is the thick liquid inside a can of chickpeas or other beans. In fact, that's exactly what the word stands for. In Latin, aqua means water, and faba means bean.
When legumes are soaked or cooked, their starches absorb water, registered dietitian and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Amy Kimberlain, RDN, says.
Those beans are then canned with plain water. Over time, they start to break down, and the starchy water they retained begins to release into the can. "The result is aquafaba—a viscous liquid," Kimberlain says.
While most people drain this liquid without a second thought, you can actually whip it and use it as a plant-based egg substitute.
Aquafaba is relatively tasteless, which is what makes it such a great substitute in baking. According to Kimberlain, aquafaba both whips and foams well, making it a good garnish for fizzy cocktails.
Currently, there is no standard nutritional information for aquafaba. Though it comes from soaking or cooking beans, aquafaba does not contribute the same nutritional value as the actual bean, Kimberlain says. "It is not a significant source of carbs, protein, fat, vitamins, or minerals," she adds.
Is aquafaba healthy?
"Aquafaba has very few nutrients to speak of, so it's quite neutral in terms of health—with one exception," registered dietitian Desiree Nielsen, R.D., says. The carbohydrates that make aquafaba a good binding agent are high in galactans, which is a FODMAP. "So for someone with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) on a low-FODMAP diet, aquafaba could contribute to symptoms," Nielsen says.
Since it's not necessarily high in nutrients, the biggest benefit of aquafaba is its egg-like consistency. This is helpful for people who are allergic to eggs or avoid them for dietary reasons.
How to use aquafaba.
"Aquafaba acts as a binder, a thickener, a foaming agent, and an emulsifier," Kimberlain says.
When using it as an egg replacement, both experts recommend following these standard conversion rates:
- One egg yolk: 1 tablespoon aquafaba
- One egg white: 2 tablespoons aquafaba
- One whole egg: 3 tablespoons aquafaba
Aquafaba is an effective egg replacement for most baked goods, plus it comes free with a can of beans. Whether someone is following a plant-based diet, allergic to eggs, or simply trying to cut down on food waste, aquafaba is a great option.
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