The 9 best cornstarch substitutes for health
Cornstarch is not the best foodstuff for people who want to lower or regulate their blood sugar or cholesterol levels.
Cornstarch might also not be the best for people on a diet, or for those looking to reduce their risk of obesity. This is due to its high calorie and carbohydrate content.
There are plenty of cornstarch substitutes, and almost all of them are vegan or vegetarian. In this article, we look at nine of the best cornstarch substitutes.
The following is a breakdown of the best cornstarch alternatives and why they are a good substitute:
1. Wheat flour
Wheat flour is a nutritious alternative to cornstarch, with a higher protein content, fewer carbohydrates, and more dietary fiber than cornstarch. It also contains more vitamins and minerals.
While it may be more nutritious, wheat flour is not as starchy as cornstarch.
This means that it may be necessary to use more of it to create the same effect when cooking.
Like cornstarch, wheat flour can make a liquid lumpy if a person does not properly mix it. Try whisking the flour in warm water until it is even before adding to foods.
2. Rice flour
Rice flour, which people make from ground rice, contains a high level of nutrients and has many uses in Asian dishes. These include noodles, soups, and desserts.
Rice flour has more protein and dietary fiber than cornstarch. It also contains fewer carbohydrates.
It is best to mix rice flour in cold or warm water until it is even before adding it to food. This prevents it from creating lumps.
People make sorghum flour from ground sorghum grains. Sorghum is high in protein, antioxidants, and dietary fiber.
A 2016 study paper in the journal Nutrition Reviews noted that there is some evidence to suggest that sorghum consumption may help regulate blood sugar responses and reduce oxidative stress.
As well as containing more protein than cornstarch, sorghum flour is also rich in the following nutrients:
- several B vitamins
Sorghum flour is a great thickener for soups, stews, and chowders. People in the Pacific Islands commonly use sorghum flour to thicken their stews. Sorghum is naturally gluten-free and high in many nutrients.
People can make xanthan gum by fermenting sugars using a type of bacteria called Xanthomonas campestris.
Xanthan gum is not always an ideal replacement for cornstarch because it contains practically zero nutrients aside from sodium and potassium.
It is, however, extremely useful as a thickener, emulsifier, and gelling agent.
Because it is so strong, a small amount of xanthan gum can go a long way.
8. Cassava or tapioca flour
Cassava flour is usually a fine white powder made from finely ground cassava root. Tapioca flour is typically a powder made from dried ground starch extracted from cassava through soaking, washing, and pulping.
Cassava may be an especially good cornstarch substitute for people with diabetes or prediabetes because it has a lower glycemic index score than wheat flour. In fact, cassava flour has significantly fewer carbohydrates than cornstarch.
Glucomannan is a colorless, water-soluble powder that people make from the roots of the konjac plant, or elephant yam.
It is extremely viscous. It can absorb some “50 times its weight in water,” making it an excellent thickener for foods. Glucommanan contains a high level of dietary fiber and few calories.
Other ways to thicken or stabilize foods
There are a few other ways to thicken, blend, or stabilize foods. Some common tips include adding:
- blended vegetables or fruits
- yogurt or milk
- coconut milk
Cooking foods for longer also usually causes them to naturally thicken and mix, as the chemical bonds in the foods break down and the starch fibers lose their strength.
There are plenty of good substitutes for cornstarch.
Easy-to-access alternatives are wheat flour, arrowroot flour, and rice flour. These are good alternatives to cornstarch because they are more nutritious and contain fewer carbohydrates and calories.
Xanthan and guar gum are much stronger thickeners than cornstarch, but they can be harder to obtain and use.
Blending fruits and vegetables to add to food, adding coconut milk, or cooking foods for a little while longer can also help replace the need for thickening agents such as cornstarch.
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