Unveiling the Truth: Is Cornstarch Bad for You?

Is Cornstarch Bad for You

Cornstarch is a commonly used ingredient to thicken soups, stews, sauces, and desserts. It is also versatile in various recipes, aiding in binding fruit-based pie fillings, tenderizing baked goods, and providing a crunchy texture to vegetables, meats, and crusts.

Despite its widespread use, there is a question about its health benefits. This article examines the nutritional value and potential health impacts of cornstarch to help you decide if it should be a part of your diet.

Cornstarch Nutrition Value

The United States Department of Agriculture (1) provides the nutritional information for 100 grams (g) of cornstarch.

  • Carbohydrate: 87.5 g
  • Sodium: 0 milligrams (mg)
  • Manganese: 0.053mg
  • Fiber: 9 g
  • Calcium: 2 mg
  • Energy: 375 calories (kcal)
  • Protein: 0 grams (g)
  • Total lipid (fat): 0 g
  • Zinc: 0.06 mg
  • Vitamin C: 0 mg
  • Vitamin A: 0 mg
  • Vitamin B12: 0 mg
  • Vitamin D: 0 mg

Keep in mind that consuming 100 grams of cornstarch is considerably higher than what most individuals would consume in a single serving. Generally, recipes only require a small amount of cornstarch, usually a few tablespoons at most. A single tablespoon contains 8 grams of cornstarch (2).

Cornstarch is not considered a nutrient-dense food due to its high carbohydrate content derived from starch. While it may not be classified as “unhealthy,” it also does not meet the criteria to be labeled as a “healthy” food.

The Impact of Cornstarch

Here are a few of the neutral and potentially adverse impacts of cornstarch on the human body.

Increased blood sugar levels

Cornstarch is high in carbohydrates and has a high glycemic index, indicating a significant impact on blood sugar levels. Furthermore, it lacks fiber, a necessary nutrient for the gradual absorption of sugar into the bloodstream. As a result, cornstarch is quickly digested, which can cause sudden blood sugar spikes. As a result, people with type 2 diabetes or those looking to control their blood sugar levels may want to reconsider including cornstarch in their diet.

Potentially harmful to heart health

The processing involved in refining cornstarch results in the loss of its nutrients, categorizing it as a refined carbohydrate. Consistently consuming foods high in refined carbs, such as cornstarch, has been found to have detrimental effects on heart health. Research suggests that diets abundant in refined carbs and foods with a high glycemic index may contribute to an increased risk of coronary heart disease, obesity, type 2 diabetes, and high blood pressure (3).

Furthermore, a study conducted on 2,941 individuals discovered that adhering to a diet with a high glycemic index was associated with elevated levels of triglycerides and insulin, as well as decreased levels of HDL (good) cholesterol, all of which are recognized as risk factors for heart disease (4).

However, additional investigation is necessary to fully comprehend the specific impact of cornstarch on heart health.

Lacks essential nutrients

When it comes to nutrition, cornstarch has limited benefits apart from its calorie and carbohydrate content. While it does contain small amounts of micronutrients like copper and selenium, the quantity typically used, which is 1-2 tablespoons (8–16 grams), does not provide substantial nutritional value. To maintain a well-balanced diet and meet your nutritional requirements, it is essential to combine cornstarch with a diverse range of nutrient-rich foods.

Who should be limiting or avoiding cornstarch?

Cornstarch is a carbohydrate- and calorie-rich substance that undergoes extensive processing, resulting in a lack of nutritional value and the potential to raise blood sugar levels.

However, for the majority of individuals, there is no need to be overly concerned about restricting or eliminating cornstarch from their diet.

Typically, cornstarch is consumed in small quantities, such as one or two tablespoons in a recipe serving six or more people. Its primary purpose is to alter the texture of food, whether it be thickening a soup or adding crispiness to chicken nuggets.

While it is true that cornstarch is not a healthy food choice, this does not mean that it should be completely avoided. In fact, cornstarch can enhance the enjoyment of certain dishes.

If you have specific health conditions, such as a corn allergy, diabetes, glycogen storage disease, or any other condition that affects your blood sugar levels, it may be beneficial to consult with a dietitian or healthcare professional. They can provide guidance on when and how much cornstarch is appropriate for your individual needs.

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The bottom line

Cornstarch is commonly utilized as a thickening agent to enhance the consistency of soups, sauces, marinades, and desserts. Although it contains a significant amount of carbohydrates and calories, it lacks essential nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, fiber, and protein. Regularly consuming large quantities of cornstarch may lead to elevated blood sugar levels and have negative implications for heart health. Nevertheless, when used in moderation and in conjunction with a diverse range of nutrient-rich foods, it can be incorporated into a balanced and wholesome diet.


Frequently Asked Questions

Q1: Are there any health risks associated with consuming cornstarch?

A1: Consuming cornstarch in moderation as part of a balanced diet is generally considered safe for most individuals. However, excessive intake can contribute to weight gain and may lead to spikes in blood sugar levels.

Q2: How should cornstarch be stored?

A2: Cornstarch should be stored in a cool, dry place in an airtight container to prevent moisture absorption and maintain its quality.

Q3: Can cornstarch be used in savory dishes as well as sweet dishes?

A3: Yes, cornstarch is a versatile ingredient that can be used in both savory and sweet dishes. It’s commonly used in stir-fries, stews, and sauces, as well as in desserts and baked goods.

Q4: Is cornstarch safe for infants and young children?

A4: Cornstarch is generally considered safe for infants and young children when used in moderation and incorporated into age-appropriate foods. However, it’s essential to introduce new foods gradually and monitor for any signs of allergies or digestive issues.

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