What is Corn Starch? A Comprehensive Guide to Understanding

The food business uses corn starch on a regular basis

Food items including soups, sauces, and baked goods frequently use corn starch as an ingredient. It is created by wet milling and drying the maize endosperm, which is then converted into a fine powder.

Starch and corn cob on the table

In this post, we’ll examine maize starch in more detail, including its characteristics, applications, and potential health advantages.

Properties of Corn Starch

Corn starch is a tasteless, odorless powder that is white in color. Long chains of glucose molecules make up the majority of it, and this is what gives it its distinctive thickening capabilities.

The glucose chains in maize starch start to separate when combined with water or other liquids, creating a thick, gel-like substance that can be used to thicken sauces and other meals.

Several food products employ maize starch as a binder and stabilizer in addition to its thickening abilities.

By giving structure and stability, it aids in preventing ingredient separation and can enhance the texture of baked items.

Uses of Corn Starch

There are numerous applications for corn starch in the food business as well as in other sectors like the production of paper, textiles, and medications. Corn starch is frequently used for things like:

Bowl with corn starch and kernels on table

Thickening agent: Corn starch is commonly used as a thickening agent in soups, sauces, gravies, and other food products. It can also be used to thicken fruit fillings and pie crusts.

Binder: Corn starch can be used as a binder in food products such as processed meats, as well as in non-food products such as paper and textiles.

Stabilizer: Corn starch can help to stabilize food products by preventing ingredients from separating or settling. It is often used in dairy products such as yogurt and ice cream to improve texture and prevent crystallization.

Dusting powder: Corn starch can be used as a dusting powder to prevent sticking, such as when rolling out dough or coating baking pans.

Potential Health Benefits of Corn Starch

The United States Food and Drug Administration (US FDA) has designated corn starch as a substance that is generally regarded as safe (GRAS) for human consumption (FDA).

Corn starch and cob on the table

Research, however, points to additional possible health advantages of maize starch beyond its fundamental nutritional content.

Digestive Health: Corn starch’s role as a prebiotic may aid to support digestive health. Non-digestible fibers called prebiotics help the good bacteria in the gut flourish.

This may lower the chance of developing some digestive illnesses while also helping to improve overall gut health.

Blood Sugar Control: Corn starch may aid diabetics with better blood sugar management. This is due to the fact that it is a complex carbohydrate that digests slowly, preventing sudden spikes in blood sugar levels.

When used topically, corn starch may have positive effects on the skin. When used to treat conditions like diaper rash and sunburn, it can aid to calm and soothe sensitive skin.

Potential Risks of Corn Starch

While corn starch is generally considered safe for consumption, there are some potential risks associated with its use.

corn starch on a dark stone background

Allergic Reactions: Some people may be allergic to corn or corn products, which can cause allergic reactions when corn starch is consumed.

Digestive Issues: Consuming large amounts of corn starch may cause digestive issues such as bloating, gas, and diarrhea.

Contamination: Corn starch may be contaminated with harmful substances such as heavy metals or pesticides, which can pose a risk to human health.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Corn flour in a bowl and corn cob on the table

Is corn starch gluten-free?

Yes, corn starch is gluten-free and can be used as a substitute for wheat flour in many recipes.

Can corn starch be used in place of flour for thickening sauces and gravies?

Yes, corn starch can be used as a substitute for flour as a thickening agent in sauces and gravies. However, it is important to note that corn starch is much more powerful than flour and requires less time to cook.

Is corn starch a low-calorie ingredient?

Corn starch is a relatively low-calorie ingredient, with approximately 30 calories per tablespoon. However, it should be used in moderation as consuming large amounts may contribute to weight gain.

Can corn starch be used as a natural remedy for skin irritation?

Yes, corn starch can be used topically to soothe and calm irritated skin. It may be helpful in treating conditions such as diaper rash and sunburn.

Is there any risk of contamination when using corn starch?

There is a potential risk of contamination when using corn starch if it is contaminated with harmful substances such as heavy metals or pesticides. It is important to choose high-quality corn starch from reputable sources and to follow proper storage and handling procedures.

Can corn starch be used in baking?

Yes, corn starch can be used in baking to improve the texture and consistency of baked goods. It can be used as a substitute for flour to make cakes and pastries lighter and more tender.

Bowl with corn starch on wooden table and space


The food business uses corn starch on a regular basis, as do other sectors including paper manufacture and the pharmaceutical sector. Its thickening, binding, and stabilizing abilities are due in large part to the glucose chains that make up the majority of it.

It is usually regarded as safe for eating and might possibly offer some possible health advantages, such enhancing digestive health and enhancing blood sugar regulation.

This page may contain affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, we'll earn a small commission, at no additional cost to you.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Written by Brian Nagele

Brian has been an influencer in the food and beverage industry for over 20 years. He not only loves to eat and drink at restaurants on a regular basis, he also knows the business inside and out.