Cornstarch is one of the most common gluten-free kitchen ingredients, mainly because it can be used in a number of dishes.
You can use cornstarch for used to add body (thicken) your sauces, gravy, frostings, soups, and more.
If you need to add a light coating to your fried foods, you can also dip them into a bit of cornstarch for a golden brown shine.
Although this popular kitchen staple has an almost endless list of potential uses, one question remains.
Is eating cornstarch bad for your health and what health benefits can you derive from consuming pure cornstarch?
In this article, we will help you to understand the national aspect of this thickening and coating agent that we all love so much.
By looking at its nutritional value and benefits, you will be able to determine whether eating cornstarch is good for you and how much you should be including in your diet.
Here's What's In Store For You...
Is It Dangerous to Eat Cornstarch?
What is Cornstarch?
Cornstarch is a by-product derived from corn grains and is used primarily for cooking but can also be used for industrial purposes, and simple scientific experiments.
This carbohydrate is sometimes called cornflour and is a white powdery substance. Also, cornstarch is regarded as a highly processed food item.
Cornstarch is used particularly in Asia and the US; however, it is incorporated into many cuisines across the world.
To make cornstarch, the bran, germ, and endosperm of corn kernels are all separated.
Using a process known as wet milling, the starch is then taken from the endosperm of the corn kernels.
It is then dried, packaged, and sold as cornstarch.
What is Modified Cornstarch?
For cornstarch, modified, is not always referring to genetically modified.
Modified cornstarch has been altered to extend shelf life, improve the starch’s effect, or enhance its capacity to endure more extreme temperatures.
It is possible that non-organic or non-GMO modified corn starch is made from genetically modified corn.
Modified starch is often used in pre-pred processed foods, such as pudding, gravy packets, and mixes that require you to add hot water only for preparation.
Uses of Cornstarch
While corn starch is known primarily as a thickener, it has a variety of other household and industrial uses. These include:
- Thickener cornstarch– used to thicken soups, sauces, fruit juice, soft drinks and beer, broths, pie fillings, baked goods, gravy, and more.
- Laundry starch- if you run out of spray starch, you can mix the powder into some water and spray it onto your clothes then iron it.
- Soothe skin irritation– raw cornstarch may soothe skin irritations, such as sunburns, rashes, and allergy-related itchiness.
- Scientific experiments- cornstarch can make science fun for kids and is often used in small experiments.
- Baby powder– cornstarch helps to dry out the skin and reduce chafing.
Cornstarch Nutrition Facts
While high in calories and carbs, you will find that cornstarch provides little nutritional value. It lacks any significant amount of minerals, fiber, vitamins, and.
According to the USDA, in 8 grams (1 tablespoon) of cornstarch, you will find:
- Calories: 30
- Fat: 0g
- Sodium: 0mg
- Carbs: 7g
- Fiber: 0g
- Sugars: 0g
- Protein: 0g
As shown above, if you use a tablespoon of cornstarch, you get 0g of protein, and even up a cup will give you roughly only 0.3 grams.
Therefore, it’s safe to say that there is little to no protein value to derive from cornstarch.
Carbohydrate is the main nutrient you will find in cornstarch, as it accounts for the majority of the calories per serving.
Of note, if you eat raw cornstarch, it is said to have a lesser effect in increasing blood sugar levels than when it is cooked in an entire dish.
That is to say that, on the glycemic index, raw starch is fifty-five or below.
3) Vitamins and Minerals
Even if you use large amounts of raw or cooked cornstarch, you will not find any substantial amount of minerals or vitamins such as sodium or fiber in cornstarch.
In essence, eating raw cornstarch or incorporating it into your cooked meals will not afford you any significant micronutrients.
Cornstarch does not really provide much fat. In fact, if you use an entire cup of it, you will get approximately less than a gram of fat.
Health Benefits of Cornstarch
To get real nutritional value from corn, you have to consume cornmeal or corn kernel because that is where you will find the bran and germ of the kernels, not in the cornstarch.
There are not many health benefits that you can gain from consuming small quantities or large quantities of corn starch; however, it can contribute to your wellbeing in a few ways.
- For persons who are interested in bulking up or adding a few pounds, it is believed that eating cornstarch will aid with rapid weight gain since cornstarch can help increase your calorie intake.
- The digestive system takes a lengthy period to break down corn starch, and as such, it remains in the intestines for some time, which experts believe aid with managing hypoglycemia. This means it helps to keep your blood glucose levels within a normal range. But this is more beneficial when eaten raw.
- The carbohydrate in the starch is broken down into glucose, and this is what your body uses as energy to function daily. Additionally, because there is not much else for the digestive system to process when you eat cornstarch, your body gets the fuel it needs much faster than if you consumed whole-grain carbs.
- Cornstarch is naturally gluten-free, making it an excellent wheat flour substitute and perfect for persons affected by celiac disease, other types of digestive issues, and gluten intolerance.
- Corn starch can make swallowing liquids easier for persons with conditions such as dysphagia (difficulty swallowing. Adding an appropriate amount of cornstarch will enhance the viscosity of liquids, making them easier to consume.
- Cornstarch is a healthy alternative for corn syrup as a thickening agent. A common one you may be used to seeing on the ingredients list of recipes or processed and packaged foods is high fructose corn syrup.
Downsides of Using Cornstarch
Because cornstarch contains primarily carbohydrates if used regularly and in large quantities, it can lead to certain health risks, such as heart disease, high blood pressure, mineral deficiencies, anemia and iron deficiency, and more.
Additionally, eating raw cornstarch may be linked to anemia and iron deficiency and may cause several digestive issues, such as gas and bloating, and an upset stomach.
If you eat raw cornstarch, you could expose yourself to illness, as it can harbor harmful bacteria, which can cause food-borne illnesses.
To be on the safer side, when you eat starch, ensure that it is cooked to get rid of harmful bacteria.
Pregnant women are especially at risk of this since they tend to develop a craving for strange things, including raw corn starch.
Further, genetically modified corn may have more health risks than organic cornstarch.
Yes, cornstarch is gluten-free (certified gluten-free options available) and great for improving the quality of your meals but because it does not provide much nutrition and health effects, as such, here are some alternatives to consider.
- Potato starch– contains a type of resistant starch, which is great for good gut bacteria.
- Arrowroot powder– less carb and caloric content than cornstarch. Also contains protein, iron, potassium, B vitamins, magnesium, and vitamin C.
- Nut butter- a good source of protein, healthy fats, and fiber, plus it can thicken your dishes.
- Tapioca flour- is a renowned gluten-free and vegan binder and thickener.
If you choose to eat cornstarch, have it in moderation and at all costs, try to avoid having raw cornstarch.
Look into other options like potato starch.
Remember, consuming too much corn starch can contribute to zinc or iron deficiency and other forms of mineral deficiency.
As a type of refined carbs and common addition to processed food, cornstarch is definitely useful, but not very nutritional.