Modified Starch – Gluten Free, Vegan, Unhealthy?

Many properties are ascribed to the term “modified starch”. What this actually means, where this starch is found, and how it can be evaluated from a health point of view is explained below.

What is modified starch?

Naturally occurring starch is a carbohydrate that is only produced by plants, such as grains. Modified starch has been chemically or physically changed by the food industry to make it more usable in processing: For example, it is more heat-stable or more swellable than in its natural form. Modified starch must be identified as an additive subject to authorization on the list of ingredients of foods. Whether it belongs to the gluten-free foods depends on the raw material. If this is wheat, this is not the case and is declared accordingly. This labeling is required by law and is then, for example, “starch (wheat)” or “wheat starch”. If the term can be found without an addition, it is gluten-free starch. This also applies to modified cornstarch – you can easily use it as an ingredient in gluten-free recipes. Since modified starch is vegan, there is nothing to be said against using it in a diet free of animal products.

Does modified starch affect health?

Food may not contain the eleven currently used modified types of starch – such as oxidized starch or acetylated starch – or flavor enhancers. So anyone who mainly eats organically produced products will have a different opinion than someone who consumes a lot of ready-made foods. The fact is that modified starch is legally approved as a food additive and is therefore classified as harmless to health. Care should be taken when overheating foods that contain a lot of starch, whether in their natural or modified form. This is where acrylamide, which is considered critical and has been the subject of much discussion in recent years, can develop. You can find out how to avoid acrylamide from the cooking experts.

Properties of Starch: What Does It Do When Cooking?

If you are now asking yourself what you need starch for and whether you can do without it when cooking, the answer is quite clear: Starch has an indispensable function as a binding agent. Sauces or doughs would simply not work without them. However, you do not need modified starch to achieve this effect, the natural form is perfectly sufficient. Simple potato or cornstarch works well as a sauce binder, and gluten-containing flour holds the dough together. If you cook a lot yourself, you automatically do without processed foods and thus also modified starches.

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Written by John Myers

Professional Chef with 25 years of industry experience at the highest levels. Restaurant owner. Beverage Director with experience creating world-class nationally recognized cocktail programs. Food writer with a distinctive Chef-driven voice and point of view.

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