Read on to learn about the nutrition facts, health benefits, and proper use of baking powder.
What is Baking Powder?
Baking powder is a dry substance used to leaven baked goods before cooking. It is comprised of a base (usually sodium bicarbonate, also known as baking soda), an acidifying agent (such as cream of tartar), and a drying agent (like cornstarch).
When baking powder is mixed with liquid ingredients, an acid-base reaction occurs that releases carbon dioxide gas into the batter or dough. This causes it to expand or "rise" when heated, creating a light and airy texture in cakes, muffins, biscuits, and other baked goods.
|Amount Per 1 tsp (4.6g)
|% Daily Value
Baking powder contains very few nutrients, as its main role is to act as a leavening agent. However, it does provide small amounts of some key minerals.
Here is the nutrition information for 1 teaspoon (4.6g) of double-acting baking powder according to the USDA:
- Calories: 2.4
- Carbohydrates: 1.1g
- Sodium: 363mg
- Calcium: 339mg (33% DV)
- Phosphorus: 456mg (60% DV)
As you can see, baking powder is very low in calories, carbs, fat, and protein. Its main nutritional contribution comes from minerals like calcium and phosphorus. Let's take a closer look at some of the key nutrients found in baking powder.
The sodium in baking powder comes from the baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) it contains. Sodium helps regulate fluid balance and blood pressure and allows nerves and muscles to function properly.
However, too much sodium has been linked to high blood pressure in some individuals. The recommended limit for sodium is 2300mg per day.
Calcium is essential for building and maintaining strong bones and teeth. It also supports the proper function of muscles, nerves, and the heart.
The calcium in baking powder accounts for about 33% of the daily value. This makes baking powder a convenient way to add a calcium boost to baked goods.
Phosphorus works closely with calcium to support bone health and growth. It is also vital for making ATP, the key energy storage molecule in cells.
Around 60% of the daily phosphorus requirement can be obtained from just 1 teaspoon of baking powder.
Potential Health Benefits
Aside from providing small amounts of minerals, baking powder has not been extensively studied for its health effects. However, some potential benefits have been proposed based on its baking soda content:
May Support Kidney Health
A small study found sodium bicarbonate supplementation improved kidney function in people with chronic kidney disease. More research is needed to confirm this effect.
Promotes Dental Health
Due to its alkaline nature, baking soda may help prevent cavities and erosion by neutralizing acid in the mouth. It is also used as a denture cleanser.
Could Enhance Exercise Performance
Some research suggests sodium bicarbonate may enhance muscular endurance during exercise. But evidence is mixed and more studies are needed.
May Reduce Acid Reflux
The alkaline compounds in baking powder can help neutralize stomach acid. This may provide relief from heartburn and acid reflux symptoms.
Using Baking Powder
When using baking powder, there are some key tips to keep in mind:
- Use promptly - Baking powder has a shelf life and loses potency over time. Use within 6 months to 1 year for best results.
- Avoid exposure to moisture and heat - Humidity and high temps can activate baking powder prematurely. Store in a cool, dry place.
- Don't eat raw - Baking powder should only be consumed cooked or baked into food. Eating it raw can upset your stomach.
- Mind the sodium - Those limiting sodium intake may want to use lower sodium baking powder alternatives.
- Check for gluten - Most baking powder is gluten-free, but always verify this if you avoid gluten.
Baking Powder vs. Baking Soda
Baking powder and baking soda are often confused. But despite some similarities, they have key differences:
|Contains both an acid and a base
|Is only a base (sodium bicarbonate)
|Requires no additional acids to activate
|Must be combined with an acid to produce CO2
|Begins working as soon as liquid is added
|Does not activate until heated to release CO2
|Adds volume even without heat
|Needs baking temperature to fully act as a leavener
|Has a shelf life of 6 months - 1 year
|Indefinite shelf life if kept dry
Is baking powder bad for you?
In moderation, baking powder is generally recognized as safe. Large amounts may cause adverse effects like nausea or diarrhea due to its sodium content. Those with kidney issues or on sodium-restricted diets should moderate their intake.
Does baking powder have carbs?
Yes, baking powder contains around 1g of carbohydrates per teaspoon. However, since it is used in very small amounts, it adds negligible carbs and calories to recipes.
Is baking powder keto-friendly?
Baking powder can be used in keto recipes, as the very small amounts needed will not significantly impact carb counts. Just be mindful of sodium levels when on a ketogenic diet.
What is baking powder made of?
Baking powder contains sodium bicarbonate (baking soda), an acidifier like cream of tartar or calcium acid phosphate, and an inert starch or powdered sugar to absorb moisture. Aluminum-free options use alternative acid sources.
Can you use baking soda instead of baking powder?
Baking soda cannot directly substitute baking powder, as it lacks the acid component. For best results, use recipes formulated for each specific leavener. In a pinch, use 3x the amount of baking soda and add an acid like lemon juice or yogurt.
While its primary role is for leavening baked goods, baking powder can also add small amounts of nutrients like calcium, phosphorus, and sodium to your diet. In moderation, it is generally recognized as safe and can be used in a variety of recipes from cakes and cookies to biscuits and muffins
Just be mindful of sodium intake if on a restricted diet. Baking powder makes it quick and convenient to whip up light, fluffy baked treats at home.