Can you eat cornstarch?

In this short article, we will answer the question, “Can you eat cornstarch?” with a thorough analysis on cornstarch, health benefits and the nutritional profile of cornstarch and the risks associated with eating cornstarch.

Can you eat cornstarch?

Yes, you can eat cornstarch. Cornstarch is safe to eat in smaller quantities, however, since it is a refined carbohydrate, its consumption can be harmful to the body. The key is to consume cornstarch in moderate amounts.

What is cornstarch?

Cornstarch is a highly processed food and popular component used in cooking to condense sauces, soups, desserts, and stews.

It can also be added to various other recipes, for instance, it helps to bind fruit-based pie fillings together, modify certain baked goods, and add a crisp coating to meats, vegetables, and crusts. 

The nutritional profile of cornstarch

Cornstarch provides a good source of calories and carbohydrates. However, it contains very low amounts of essential nutrients including vitamins, protein, fibre, and minerals.

One cup (128 grams) serving of cornstarch comprises the following nutrients:

  • Calories: 488
  • Fibre: 1 gram
  • Protein: 0.5 grams
  • Carbohydrates: 117 grams
  • Selenium: 7% of the Daily Value (DV)
  • Copper: 7% of the DV
  • Manganese: 3% of the DV
  • Iron: 3% of the DV

However,  if you are utilising cornstarch to thicken soups and sauces, you may only add 1–2 tablespoons (8 to 16 grams) of it at a time, which does not provide any significant nutrients to your diet other than calories and carbohydrates.

Health benefits of consuming cornstarch

As cornstarch lacks enough protein, fibre, and nutrients, there are very few benefits of eating cornstarch. One health benefit is that it is very low in fat, sodium and cholesterol. It is a quick source of calories.

Since cornstarch is gluten-free, it may be a healthy substitute for wheat flour for individuals suffering from gluten intolerance and celiac disease. 

Our body digests carbohydrates and converts them into glucose, which serves as fuel for our cells. Protein, fibre, and fat prevent the increase in our blood glucose levels. Since cornstarch lacks these nutrients, it gives us energy faster than whole-grain carbohydrates.

This might be beneficial to you if you are very active or skinny. By enhancing your calorie and carbohydrate consumption, eating cornstarch might encourage you to recharge your energy stores, so you gain weight faster.

Risks of eating cornstarch

Consumption of cornstarch may be associated with several adverse effects which are described as follows:

May increase blood sugar levels

Cornstarch has a good amount of carbohydrates and has a high glycemic index. Also, it is low in fibre, which slows down the assimilation of sugar into your bloodstream.

Due to this reason, cornstarch is rapidly digested in the body, which may lead to an increase in blood sugar levels.

Therefore, cornstarch may not be a great addition to the diet of patients with type 2 diabetes.

May harm heart health

Cornstarch is thought to be a purified carbohydrate, which means that it has been extensively processed removing its nutrients.

It has been found that the regular consumption of foods that are rich in refined carbohydrates, such as cornstarch, may harm heart health, by posing a greater risk of coronary heart disease, increased triglyceride and insulin levels, type 2 diabetes, lower levels of HDL (good) cholesterol, obesity, and high blood pressure- all of which contribute to heart problems. 

Lacks essential nutrients

Apart from carbohydrates and calories, cornstarch provides very few nutrients. Though high amounts of cornstarch provide some amounts of micronutrients such as selenium and copper, only 1–2 tablespoons of cornstarch are used at a time.

Recommendations

Although cornstarch may be associated with several negative effects, it can be consumed in smaller amounts as part of a healthy and well-balanced diet.

If you are following a low carbohydrate diet or have diabetes, you will have to consider decreasing your intake of cornstarch.

Ideally, consume only 8–16 grams of cornstarch at a time and consider alternating with some other cornstarch substitutes, for example, potato starch, arrowroot, wheat flour, and tapioca, if possible.

In addition, as refined cornstarch is typically gluten-free, be assured to choose certified gluten-free varieties to prevent cross-contamination in case you have celiac disease or suffer from gluten sensitivity.

Cooked and raw Cornstarch

There are both benefits and drawbacks of eating raw or cooked cornstarch. 

Raw cornstarch is harder to digest as compared to cooked cornstarch. Because of this, eating raw cornstarch may lead to an upset stomach, causing gas and bloating, but it will not increase your blood glucose levels as quickly as compared to cooked cornstarch.

For this reason, cooked cornstarch might be a better choice for people with diabetes. Cooking cornstarch also removes any dangerous bacteria that the corn might have been contaminated with while farming, harvesting or packaging, thus reducing the risk of food-borne illnesses. 

Conclusion

In this short article, we have answered the question, “Can you eat cornstarch?” with a thorough analysis of cornstarch, the nutritional profile of cornstarch, health benefits and the risks associated with eating cornstarch.

References

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/is-cornstarch-bad-for-you#recommendations
https://www.the-sun.com/news/2527693/eat-cornstarch-safe/
https://www.livestrong.com/article/460191-can-you-eat-raw-cornstarch/

Hi, I am Charlotte, I love cooking and in my previous life, I was a chef. I bring some of my experience to the recipes on this hub and answer your food questions.