Cornstarch is a starch derived from corn, and is also referred to as corn flour. It is made when the endosperm, the white piece of the corn kernel, is ground down into a fine white powder. Aside from being a carbohydrate, cornstarch alone provides little to no nutritional value to the body, which has lead to its health benefits being debated.
As with anything, there are pros and cons to its use. There are many unique options for cooking and household remedies that use cornstarch as an alternative to traditional products. Even so, there are differing opinions about its use, and some find it to be an unhealthy and unnecessary additive to both food and beauty products.
There are some recommendations for using cornstarch to balance a diet, either as a food additive or as a specific part of a meal plan. Some dietary supplements actually contain cornstarch in them instead of simpler sugars. The reasons behind this are due to the fact that starch takes a lot longer to break down, so it provides sugars to the body over a longer period. The slow release of sugars can lead to more stable blood sugar levels compared to the spikes seen when eating simpler sugars. This is particularly important for those with diabetes or cardiovascular diseases.
Cornstarch also offers an alternative to common ingredients and is used as a natural thickening agent in many forms of cooking. It does not contain gluten, so it is commonly used as a substitute for recipes that call for flour as an ingredient. The question regarding its use is whether or not it is a weight conscious choice for a food additive. Corn in any form contains substances that are known as phospholipids, which are fat derivatives, and starch is made from a large number of glucose or sugar molecules. According to research, starch and fat are commonly known to contribute to weight gain.
The issue of weight gain has been one major concern with regular cornstarch consumption. It has been rumored that cornstarch is used to fatten up animals, such as pigs or cattle, before slaughter. Given that it is used as a thickening agent, weight gain may be a side effect. Adding weight is a desired goal for some, while for those who struggle with weight, the gain is both unnecessary and unwanted, regardless of any potential health benefits.
There are other areas in which cornstarch is thought to provide some health benefits. Since it naturally absorbs moisture, it can be used as an alternative to talc in different body powders. Talc has long been linked with some forms of cancer and circulatory system conditions. As cornstarch is not linked to these health issues, it is often interchanged with talc and is considered a preferred choice, especially in baby powders.