Be it Chinese curries or soups, cornstarch is a rather useful ingredient we often add to make sure to get the right consistency. Well, while this may make your gravies get the right amount of thickness, it may actually not be working well for your body. Cornstarch is high in carbohydrates and makes your dish very calorie-heavy. However, worry not! There are many healthier cornstarch substitutes to get the same results in your food. Read on to know more!
All our cereals like rice, wheat, and corn have a starchy endosperm portion. “Derived from the endosperm of corn kernels, cornstarch is a fine, powdery substance. Its thickening properties make it a popular ingredient in both sweet and savoury recipes, providing a reliable way to achieve the desired thickness without altering the flavour of the final product,” says Garima Goyal, dietician. However, there are many cornstarch substitutes that can be added to your delicacies as well.
Cornstarch is a refined product that is high in carbohydrates. While carbohydrates are essential for a healthy diet, these forms of carbs are simple carbohydrates. However, it’s important to understand how much carbohydrates to consume. They are easily digested causing blood sugar spikes. “The cereal is refined and this leads to nutrient-loss. This ends up making the flour more calorie-dense. It doesn’t contain significant amounts of vitamins, minerals, or fibre, which are important for overall health,” says Goyal.
This study, published in Clinical Nutrition, suggests that consumption of cornstarch can result in a higher glycemic index. And this study, published in Nutrition, states that cornflour is very low in fibre and, thus, not very healthy. It can also lead to complications in heart health. This is why it is essential to look for good and healthy cornstarch substitutes.
Cornstarch is not entirely unhealthy and it can be part of a well-balanced diet. Using it in small amount is generally not bad for health. But remember to use to use less of it! “Using cornstarch in moderation is a safer option. There isn’t any specific amount, however one way to quantify is based on your calorie requirement. On an average, the calories from cornstarch must be calculated just as you calculate the calories of the rest of your food, and this must fit in your requirements,” says Goyal.
While corn starch is commonly used a thickening agent and for coating, here are few alternatives you can try. Dietitian Garima Goyal gives you 7 other ingredients that will make sure to give you the same results, but are healthier, and even tastier!
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To thicken gravies or curries, instead of adding cornstarch, try adding coconut. The flavour of your gravy improves with coconut, and of course, it becomes thicker.
For jams and puddings you can include chia seeds or flaxseeds as they gel well and helps thicken the mixture.
Chickpea flour is made from ground chickpeas. It is also called gram flour. It is high in protein and fibre and works well in savoury dishes.
Almond flour is made from ground almonds and is rich in healthy fats, protein, and fibre. It is a good source of vitamins and minerals, making it a nutritious alternative to corn flour. This can be used in desserts as well as savoury dishes.
Potato starch powder can also be used as a replacement. Compared to corn starch it contains few extra nutrients and less calories. This makes them a better option to be added in cooking.
Coconut flour obtained from dried coconut can also be used instead of fresh coconut for instant preparations.
Flours based out of millets can be included for thickening. Their nutritional profiles are better than cornstarch and can still satisfy the taste.
“Other alternatives include cooking food a longer time, which helps in thickening, adding less water, adding ground vegetables,” adds Goyal.