When we talk about weekend treats, cornstarch might not be the first thing that comes to your mind. You would be surprised to know that it is added to so many condiments, even soup.
However, is it actually safe to use cornstarch?
Yes, cornstarch is safe to use in small concentrations if it is being used for cooking. Using raw cornstarch is strongly prohibited because it could cause severe bloating. It is also advised only to use a max of 2 tbsp of cornstarch in any recipe. Want to know more about the safety hazards of cornstarch?
Is Overusing Cornstarch Actually Bad for Your Health?
Overusing cornstarch is bad for your health because it is rich in carbs and has very little nutritional value. It is mostly used as a broth, soup, and stew sauce thickener. Most people also use it in sophisticated dishes like alfredo pasta or curry to thicken the sauce.
However, it gives a very creamy consistency to your recipes at the expense of your health. But, most people don’t know that it is not that good for health.
People often use too much cornstarch to make their soup or stew good enough.
Because it has corn in its name, some often assume that it is healthy because it is made from corn. Cornstarch is mainly made of the part of corn that has a lot of carbs and starch. It is just as bad as processed food.
Also, the kind of carbs present in cornstarch is most likely to increase your blood glucose level. Cornstarch is not good news for people with diabetes because it could have some pretty serious and dangerous implications.
Though your body digests cornstarch really quickly, it still does not have a lot of vitamins and minerals that could help your body with its growth. So, you are just fueling your body with something that it does not necessarily need and could also be potentially harmful.
Is It Safe to Eat Raw Cornstarch?
No, it is not safe to eat raw cornstarch because it is hard to digest and could upset the stomach and cause bloating. If you are concerned about your glucose levels, raw cornstarch might not pose a problem.
As raw cornstarch takes more time to indigestion compared to cooked, the chances of a sudden increase in blood sugar level are very low. You still need to be cautious if you have diabetes, but raw cornstarch would not be that big a problem in most cases.
If you want to fuel up on carbs and don’t mind some bloating, then raw cornstarch might actually be a good option for you. But, there are healthier options that do not harm you and are a great source of carbs.
There is a drawback to eating raw cornstarch, which is the potential to catch different bacteria. These bacteria are often harmful and affect cornfields. Usually, when you cook cornstarch, the heat kills most bacteria, but when you are eating the cornstarch raw, it will directly affect your health.
So, if you have to use cornstarch by any means and thickening your soup is more important for you than anything else, then make sure to cook it properly and not use it raw because that way, you can at least be safe from the harmful effects of bacteria.
Is Cornstarch High in Calories?
Yes, cornstarch is high in calories as it contains about 488 calories in just 128 grams of cornstarch. The calorie count of cornstarch is very high, so people on a diet are usually advised to avoid it.
When losing weight, you also need to regulate your cholesterol level, which cannot be done if you keep consuming cornstarch. You can still lose weight while consuming cornstarch occasionally because using it every day would not be that good of an idea.
You can also calculate the calories you are consuming to always be on a calorie deficit. A good calorie deficit diet will help you lose weight even if you are using cornstarch.
However, it is always a good idea not to use cornstarch in the first place.
What are the Side Effects of Cornstarch?
Cornstarch has a whole lot of side effects, so it is better to just stay off of this food item. Go through the below-given risks of consuming cornstarch and see whether you should actually be using it or not.
1. Affects Cardiac Wellness
Cornstarch is the last thing you should be eating if you have recurring cardiac issues. It is a heavily refined and processed form of carbs, and every nutrient is taken out of it, which means you are just consuming a solid form of starch.
If you use cornstarch on a regular basis, it will certainly affect your heart health. Also, foods that have a high glycemic index and that are rich in carbs are most likely to cause heart diseases. But, such dangerous side effects are mostly linked to using excessive cornstarch regularly.
Overusing cornstarch might also result in obesity in the long run, which is not good for your cardiac health either. Make sure to keep your cornstarch consumption in check if you want to avoid spending an arm and a leg on cardiac medicines.
2. Has a High Glycemic Index
As already established, cornstarch has a high glycemic index. It is very likely to increase your blood sugar levels which is very harmful to people with recurring diseases related to blood sugar levels.
Cornstarch is also low in fiber content. Fiber is mainly responsible for slowing down sugar absorption in the blood, so the sugar levels do not hike abruptly. But, being low in fiber, cornstarch is very likely to increase your risk of worsening your diabetes.
3. High in Carbs
Cornstarch is dangerously low in nutrients and high in carbs. It means it is not only high in calories but has no worthwhile nutritional standing. Though it still has some micronutrients that are negligible.
You hardly use 1-2 spoons of cornstarch, and the concentration of micronutrients in a few tbsp does not make that big of a difference. If you are still using cornstarch, make sure you use it with nutrition-rich veggies and other food items to compensate.
Also, being high in carbs, cornstarch is not a good option for you if you are on a diet. Most diets require you to keep an eye on the number of carbohydrates you consume in a day. If you keep fueling up on cornstarch, you might gain weight instead of shedding those extra pounds.
Are There Any Replacements for Cornstarch?
Yes, there are a lot of replacements for cornstarch in the market, like potato starch and rice flour. Though these replacements might not make your broth thicker, they are much less harmful than cornstarch, so it is a win-win situation.
Below are the best substitutes for cornstarch, so make sure to give them a read just always to have a safer option for a creamy mushroom soup.
Potatoes are not a grain. It is easy to use potato starch as a substitute. All you need to do is crush your potatoes and collect all the starch from them. Then let the starch dry in a powder.
So, this starch is also pretty high in calories and has a rather bland taste. It will not add much flavor to your overall recipe, so you can experiment with different flavors if you want.
Rice flour is also a pretty good substitute for cornstarch. You just have to grind the rice and use it in place of cornstarch. People already use rice flour in soups and desserts, which are commonly available in marts.
Rice flour is gluten-free so that more people could use it, and it could as easily be used as a thickener in different dishes of your choice. You might need to add double the quantity of cornstarch if you want the same consistency.
When you mix rice flour with water, it turns colorless, so you can also use it in different desserts like puddings.
Wheat flour is pretty high in protein and other nutrients, so it is a far better thickening agent than cornstarch. However, you would need to use a lot of wheat flour to have the same effect as cornstarch. All you need to do is grind the wheat to make this flour.
Cornstarch is not the ideal thickening agent, but still, our soups are incomplete without it. So, make sure that you are not using a lot of it, and if you have diabetes or other heart diseases, just don’t use cornstarch altogether.
There are a lot of substitutes of cornstarch in the market that work just as good so, so the answer to “is it safe to use cornstarch?” is that no, it is not safe to use cornstarch recklessly, and you would have to keep a proper check on your consumption to keep your health hunky-dory.