Q. Is cornflour OK for me as I’m on a gluten-free diet?

Written by Catherine Saxelby on Friday, 17 May 2013.
Tagged: additives, carbohydrates, food labels, gluten, gluten-free, health, healthy eating, healthy lifestyle, special diets

Q. Is cornflour OK for me as I’m on a gluten-free diet?

A. In Australia, products sold as “cornflour” were once always made from wheat, as wheat was the dominant grain grown. These days, however, many of the cornflours at the supermarkets are now produced from corn or maize (its alternative name).

In the US, cornflour is called corn starch, which is a better descriptor as it is the starch obtained from the inner endosperm of the wheat or maize kernel. Cornflour is a very fine white powder and a common kitchen ingredient used to thicken sauces and soups. You buy it in a pack at the supermarket and it's quite inexpensive.

It has little nutritional value being almost entirely pure carbohydrate.

What to look for on the label

So if you are aiming to avoid wheat, then look for a cornflour which is labelled made from maize or "gluten-free". You'll spot the wording “Maize cornflour” or "Gluten-free" on the front somewhere or else on the list of ingredients on the back of the pack.

Alternatively rice flour or ground rice or arrowroot are also excellent thickeners and binders and have the added bonus that they don't go lumpy.

To help people with food intolerances, almost all thickeners and starches in commercial foods are today derived from maize or potato or tapioca, not wheat. Again make sure you check this for yourself on the label – the list of ingredients should say:

 

THICKENER FROM MAIZE

or

THICKENER FROM POTATO

 

Note: The word “corn” has historically been used to describe all grains in general which is how “cornflour” got its name in the first place.

 

Catherine Saxelby

About the Author

Catherine Saxelby knows nutrition! She is an accredited nutritionist, food commentator, blogger and award-winning author. Her latest book Catherine Saxelby's Food and Nutrition Companion answers all those tricky questions on healthy eating, diets and supplements. It draws together a lifetime of advice and gives you all you need to know to eat right! It's a complete A to Z. A handy desk go-to reference.