Is Cornstarch Bad for You? Nutrition and Health Effects


Cornstarch is a popular ingredient used to thicken soups, stews, sauces, and desserts.

It can also be used in a variety of other recipes and help hold together fruit-based pie fillings, soften certain baked goods, and add a crisp coating to veggies, meats, and crusts.

However, despite the versatility of this common kitchen staple, many people wonder whether it’s good for you.

This article looks at the nutrition facts and health effects of cornstarch to determine whether you should include it in your diet.

Cornstarch is high in calories and carbs, but it lacks important nutrients like protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals.

One cup (128 grams) of cornstarch contains the following nutrients (1):

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

Keep in mind that amount is much greater than what most people consume in a single serving.

For example, if you’re using cornstarch to thicken soups and sauces, you may only use 1–2 tablespoons (8–16 grams) of cornstarch at a time, which is unlikely to contribute any significant nutrients to your diet apart from calories and carbohydrates.

summary

Cornstarch is high in calories and carbs but low in other important nutrients, including protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals.

Cornstarch may be associated with several negative side effects.

May increase blood sugar levels

Cornstarch is rich in carbs and has a high glycemic index, which is a measure of how much a specific food affects your blood sugar levels (1, 2, 3).

It’s also low in fiber, an important nutrient that slows the absorption of sugar into your bloodstream (1, 4).

For this reason, cornstarch is digested very quickly in your body, which may lead to spikes in your blood sugar levels (4).

Therefore, cornstarch may not be a great addition to your diet if you have type 2 diabetes or are hoping to better manage your blood sugar levels.

May harm heart health

Cornstarch is considered a refined carb, meaning that it has undergone extensive processing and been stripped of its nutrients.

Studies show that regularly consuming foods rich in refined carbs, such as cornstarch, may negatively affect heart health.

According to one analysis, diets rich in refined carbs and foods with a high glycemic index may be linked to a greater risk of coronary heart disease, obesity, type 2 diabetes, and high blood pressure (5).

Another study in 2,941 people found that following a diet with a high glycemic index was associated with increased triglyceride and insulin levels, along with lower levels of HDL (good) cholesterol — all of which are risk factors for heart disease (6).

However, further research on the specific effects of cornstarch on heart health is needed.

Lacks essential nutrients

Apart from calories and carbs, cornstarch brings little to the table in terms of nutrition.

Although large amounts of it provide small amounts of micronutrients like copper and selenium, most people only use 1–2 tablespoons (8–16 grams) at a time.

Therefore, it’s important to pair cornstarch with a variety of other nutrient-dense foods as part of a balanced diet to ensure that you’re meeting your nutritional needs.

summary

Cornstarch is high in calories and carbs but low in essential nutrients. It may also increase blood sugar levels and harm heart health.

Although cornstarch may be associated with several downsides, it can be enjoyed in small amounts as part of a healthy, well-rounded diet.

If you have diabetes or are following a low carb diet, you may want to consider moderating your intake of cornstarch.

Ideally, stick to 1–2 tablespoons (8–16 grams) at a time and consider swapping in some other cornstarch substitutes, such as arrowroot, wheat flour, potato starch, and tapioca, whenever possible.

Additionally, while pure cornstarch is naturally gluten-free, be sure to select certified gluten-free varieties to avoid cross-contamination if you have celiac disease or a sensitivity to gluten.

summary

Cornstarch can be enjoyed in moderation as part of a balanced diet. Stick to 1–2 tablespoons (8–16 grams) at a time and be sure to select varieties that are certified gluten-free if you have celiac disease or a sensitivity to gluten.

Cornstarch is a thickening agent often used to improve the texture of soups, sauces, marinades, and desserts.

Each serving is high in carbs and calories but low in important nutrients like vitamins, minerals, fiber, and protein.

Consuming high amounts regularly may increase your blood sugar levels and be associated with adverse effects on heart health.

However, it can fit into a healthy, well-rounded diet if used in moderation and enjoyed alongside a variety of other nutrient-dense foods.



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