Soups, stews, sauces, and desserts frequently employ cornstarch as a thickener.
Other uses for it include holding together fruit-based pie fillings, softening some baked items, and giving vegetables, meats, and crusts a crisp exterior.
Despite this basic cooking staple’s flexibility, many people are unsure of its health benefits.
In order to assess whether you should incorporate cornstarch into your diet, this article examines its nutrition facts and health effects of it.
Read on to discover more.
✅ There are numerous options besides cornstarch for thickening sauces, stews, and soups.
✅ Furthermore, several of these thickeners differ from cornstarch in terms of their nutritional qualities and ability to accommodate a range of dietary choices.
✅ There are definitely other thickeners to think about if you want to add a little bit more fibre to your recipes, are following a low-carb diet, or are out of cornstarch.
✅ In order to improve the texture of soups, sauces, marinades, and desserts, cornstarch is frequently employed as a thickening agent.
✅ Each serving is high in calories and carbohydrates but poor in protein, fibre, vitamins, and other essential elements.
✅ consuming large amounts may raise blood sugar levels and have detrimental consequences on heart health.
✅ However, if consumed in moderation and combined with a range of other nutrient-dense foods, it can be a part of a balanced, healthy diet.
Cornstarch is high in calories and carbs, but it lacks vital elements including protein, fibre, vitamins, and minerals. The following nutrients are found in one cup (128 grammes) of cornstarch:
0.5 grammes of protein
Carbs total 117 grammes.
One gramme of fibre
7% of the daily value is in copper (DV)
Selenium: 7% of the Daily Value
3% of the DV is iron
3% of the DV for manganese
Remember that this is far more than what most people eat in one serving. For instance, you should only use 1-2 teaspoons (8–16 grammes) of cornstarch at a time if you’re thickening soups and sauces. This amount is unlikely to add any substantial nutrients to your diet other than calories and carbs.
The use of cornstarch may have a number of unfavourable side effects.
Possibly raising blood sugar levels
Cornstarch has a high glycemic index, which is a gauge of how much a given food affects your blood sugar levels. It is also abundant in carbohydrates. Additionally, it has little fibre, a crucial vitamin that delays the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream. Because of this, cornstarch is metabolised quickly by your body, which could cause blood sugar levels to increase. Therefore, if you have type 2 diabetes or want to manage your blood sugar levels better, cornstarch might not be a smart addition to your diet.
May be detrimental to heart health
Since cornstarch has undergone considerable processing and had all of its nutrients removed, it is categorised as a refined carb. According to studies, eating foods like cornstarch that are high in refined carbohydrates on a frequent basis may be bad for your heart. One study found that high glycemic index meals and refined carbohydrate diets may increase the risk of coronary heart disease, obesity, type 2 diabetes, and high blood pressure.
Following a diet with a high glycemic index was linked to higher triglyceride and insulin levels, as well as lower levels of HDL (good) cholesterol, according to another study of 2,941 adults. These are all risk factors for heart disease.
However, more investigation is required to determine the precise effects of cornstarch on heart health.
Weak in necessary nutrition
Besides calories and carbohydrates, cornstarch doesn’t offer much in the way of nourishment. Most individuals only consume 1-2 tablespoons (8-16 grammes) at a time, despite the fact that vast volumes of it contain tiny amounts of minerals like copper and selenium. In order to guarantee that you’re reaching your nutritional needs, it’s crucial to combine cornstarch with a variety of other nutrient-dense meals as part of a balanced diet.
Although cornstarch may have a number of drawbacks, it can be consumed in moderation as part of a balanced, healthy diet. It could be wise to moderate your cornstarch intake if you have diabetes or are on a low-carb diet. Aim to use no more than 1-2 tablespoons (8-16 grammes) at a time, and whenever possible, use arrowroot, wheat flour, potato starch, or tapioca for cornstarch.
Furthermore, even though pure cornstarch is inherently gluten-free, if you have celiac disease or a gluten allergy, make sure to choose kinds that are GLUTEN-FREE certified.
The Top 11 Cornstarch Alternatives
The use of cornstarch in cooking and baking is very common. It is made from maize kernels that have had all of their outer bran and germ removed, leaving only the starch-rich endosperm.
It has a variety of purposes in the kitchen. Starch is excellent at absorbing water when heated. Soups, stews, and gravies are the dishes it is most frequently used to thicken. Because it is made from maize (not wheat), making it gluten-free, it is also frequently preferred by people with diseases linked to gluten. But there are other ingredients besides cornstarch that can be employed as thickeners. This article looks at 11 substitute ingredients.
1. Wheat flour
Wheat is ground into a fine powder to create wheat flour. Wheat flour, in contrast to cornstarch, also has protein and fibre in addition to carbohydrates. This means that while you can substitute flour for cornstarch, you will need more of the latter to achieve the same results. For thickening reasons, it is generally advised to use twice as much white flour as cornstarch. Therefore, use 2 tablespoons of white flour for 1 tablespoon of cornstarch. While it is feasible to try thickening using wheat and whole grain flour, you will probably need a lot more of these to achieve the same outcome because they include more fibre than white flour.
Mix some cold water with the wheat flour to make a paste before adding it to a recipe to thicken it. When you add it to recipes, this will prevent it from clumping and staying together. If you’re replacing cornstarch with wheat flour, keep in mind that those with gluten-related diseases shouldn’t use it because it contains gluten.
The tropical plant genus Maranta is used to produce the starchy flour known as arrowroot. The plant’s roots are dried and powdered into a fine powder to create arrowroot, which can be used as a cooking thickening. Since arrowroot has more fibre than cornstarch, some individuals prefer it. It is excellent for thickening clear liquids because, when combined with water, it creates a clear gel (3Trusted Source). To achieve comparable effects, it is advised to use twice as much arrowroot as cornstarch. Additionally, arrowroot is gluten-free, making it acceptable for those who avoid gluten.
3. Potato starch
Cornstarch can also be replaced with potato starch. Potatoes are dried into a powder after being crushed to extract their starch content. It’s not a grain, like arrowroot, thus it doesn’t have gluten. However, because it is a refined starch, it is high in carbohydrates and low in fat and protein. Like other tuber and root starches, potato starch has a rather mild flavour and won’t overpower your recipes. You should use potato starch in a 1:1 ratio in place of cornstarch. This means that you should substitute 1 tablespoon of potato starch for 1 tablespoon of cornstarch if your recipe calls for it.
It’s also important to remember that many chefs advise adding starches from roots or tubers, such as potato or arrowroot, later in the cooking process. This is because they thicken much more quickly than carbohydrates made from grains and absorb water. They will entirely break down if heated for an extended period of time, losing their ability to thicken.
Cassava, a root vegetable found throughout South America, is used to make tapioca, a processed starch product. It is created by pulverising cassava roots into a liquid, sifting away the starch-rich liquid, and drying the resulting tapioca flour. To ensure safety, the cassava must first be processed because certain cassava plants contain cyanide. In addition to being available in flour, pearls, and flakes, tapioca is also gluten-free. The majority of chefs advise using 2 tablespoons of tapioca flour for 1 tablespoon of cornstarch.
5. Rice flour
Rice is processed into a thin powder called rice flour. In Asian cultures, it’s frequently utilised as a component of soups, rice noodles, and desserts. As a natural gluten-free alternative to conventional wheat flour, it is well-liked by those with gluten-related diseases. Rice flour is a good alternative to cornstarch because it can also be used in recipes as a thickener. Additionally, when combined with water, it has no colour, making it particularly advantageous for thickening clear liquids.
It is advised to use twice as much rice flour as cornstarch to achieve the same results as you would with wheat flour. It can be used to form a paste with hot or cold water or in a roux, which is a mixture of fat and flour.
6. Flaxseeds ground
When combined with water, ground flaxseeds, which are particularly absorbent, produce a jelly. Contrary to cornstarch, which has a smooth consistency, flax can occasionally be a little bit gritty. However, since ground flaxseeds are a fantastic source of soluble fibre, you can increase the amount of fibre in your recipe by adding them in place of flour. You might try substituting 1 tablespoon of ground flaxseeds with 4 tablespoons of water for cornstarch when thickening a recipe. In place of around 2 teaspoons of cornstarch, use this.
The roots of the konjac plant are the source of the powdered soluble fibre known as glucomannan. When combined with hot water, it is incredibly absorbent and produces a thick, colourless, odourless gel. As pure fibre with no calories or carbs, glucomannan is a well-liked alternative to cornstarch for those on low-carb diets. Additionally, it is a probiotic, which means that it feeds the beneficial bacteria in your large intestine and can support the maintenance of a healthy gut. In addition, a recent study discovered that taking 3 grammes of glucomannan daily could lower your LDL (bad) cholesterol by as much as 10%.
However, when using it as a thickener, you probably won’t drink that much. Because it thickens considerably more effectively than cornstarch, you need much less of it. For every 2 teaspoons of cornstarch, most individuals use about 1/4 teaspoon of glucomannan. To prevent it from clumping together when it comes into contact with boiling liquid, mix it with a little cold water before adding it to your dish because it thickens at relatively low temperatures.
8. Psyllium husk
Another plant-based soluble fibre that can be employed as a thickening agent is psyllium husk. It is low in carbohydrates and high in soluble fibre, similar to glucomannan. Additionally, you only require a tiny bit of it to thicken recipes, so begin with half a teaspoon and increase as needed.
9. Xanthan gum
Vegetable xanthan gum is produced by fermenting sugar with the bacteria Xanthomonas campestris. This results in a gel that is dried and transformed into a powder for use in cooking. Xanthan gum can significantly thicken a liquid in very little volumes. It should be noted that when ingested in high quantities, it may cause stomach problems for some people.
However, if you use it as a thickener, you probably won’t eat very much of it. It is advised to apply xanthan gum gradually and in modest amounts. It’s important to use just the right amount; else, the liquid could get a little slimy.
10. Guar gum
Vegetable gums include guar gum. It is manufactured from guar beans, a kind of legume. The starchy endosperm in the centre of the beans is gathered, dried, and ground into a powder after the outer husks are removed. It is a wonderful thickener since it contains a lot of soluble fibre and a few calories. Because guar gum is typically significantly less expensive than xanthan gum, some people prefer to use it. However, guar gum is a potent thickener just like xanthan gum. Start with a little amount roughly one-quarter of a teaspoon and increase it gradually until you get the consistency you prefer.
11. Additional thickening methods
You can thicken your recipes using a variety of additional methods as well. These consist of:
Simmering :: A richer sauce will occur from cooking your food at a lower heat for a longer period of time.
Vegetable blends :: To thicken and boost the nutritional value of a tomato-based sauce, leftover vegetables can be puréed.
Greek yoghurt (plain) or sour cream:: These ingredients can help a sauce become creamier and thicker.