Be it Chinese curries or soups, cornstarch is quite a useful ingredient that we often add to ensure the right consistency is achieved. While this may help your gravy get the right amount of thickness, it may not work well for your body. Cornstarch is rich in carbohydrates and ensures that your dish is very high in calories. Don’t worry though! There are much healthier cornstarch substitutes to get the same results in your food. Read on to know more!
What is corn starch?
All our grains such as rice, wheat and corn contain a starchy endosperm part. “Corn starch, which comes from the endosperm of corn kernels, is a fine, powdery substance. Its thickening properties make it a popular ingredient in both sweet and savory recipes, providing a reliable way to achieve the desired thickness without altering the taste of the final product,” says Garima Goyal, dietitian. However, there are also many cornstarch substitutes that can be added to your delicacies.
How is corn starch unhealthy?
Corn starch is a refined product that is rich in carbohydrates. Although carbohydrates are essential to a healthy diet, these forms of carbohydrates are simple carbohydrates. However, it is important to understand how many carbohydrates you should consume. They are easily digested and cause spikes in blood sugar levels. “The grain is refined and this leads to loss of nutrients. This makes the flour more caloric. It does not contain significant amounts of vitamins, minerals or fiber, which are important for overall health,” says Goyal.
This study, published in Clinical Nutrition, suggests that cornstarch consumption may result in a higher glycemic index. And this study, published in Nutrition, states that cornmeal contains very little fiber and is therefore not very healthy. It can also lead to complications in heart health. That’s why it’s essential to look for good and healthy corn starch substitutes.
Also read: Can Eating Too Much Cornstarch Be Harmful to Your Health? Surprisingly, yes
How much cornstarch can I consume per day?
Corn starch is not entirely unhealthy and can be part of a balanced diet. Using it in small amounts is generally not bad for your health. But remember to use to use less of it! “Using cornstarch in moderation is a safer option. There is no specific amount, but one way to quantify it is based on your calorie needs. On average, calories from cornstarch should be calculated the same way you calculate calories from the rest of your food, and this should suit your needs,” says Goyal.
7 Cornstarch Substitutes You Can Try!
Although cornstarch is often used as a thickener and for coating, here are some alternatives you can try. Dietitian Garima Goyal gives you 7 other ingredients that ensure you get the same results, but are healthier and even tastier!
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To thicken gravy or curries, instead of adding cornstarch, you can add coconut. The flavor of your gravy improves with coconut, and of course it thickens.
2. Chia seeds and flax seeds
For jam and pudding you can use chia seeds or flax seeds, as they gel well and thicken the mixture.
3. Chickpea flour
Chickpea flour is made from ground chickpeas. It is also called gram flour. It is high in protein and fiber and works well in savory dishes.
4. Almond flour
Almond flour is made from ground almonds and is rich in healthy fats, proteins and fiber. It is a good source of vitamins and minerals, making it a nutritious alternative to cornmeal. This can be used in both desserts and savory dishes.
5. Potato starch powder
Potato starch powder can also be used as a substitute. Compared to corn starch, it contains few additional nutrients and fewer calories. This makes them a better option to add while cooking.
6. Coconut flour
Coconut flour obtained from dried coconut can also be used instead of fresh coconut for instant preparations.
7. Millet flour
Millet-based flour can be added for thickening. Their nutritional profiles are better than cornstarch and can still satisfy the taste.
“Other alternatives include cooking food for longer, which helps in thickening, adding less water and adding ground vegetables,” Goyal adds.