Corn flour, also known as maize flour, is a common alternative to wheat flour in gluten free recipes. Especially in the United States of America, where domestic production of corn is very common place. But is it really friendly for a gluten free diet?
Is maize flower gluten free? Yes! Corn flour is naturally gluten free and an ideal wheat flour alternative for people with celiac disease. Other corn products like corn tortillas, maize starch, and sweet corn are all also free from the gluten protein.
Gluten plays the key role in celiac disease, eroding the healthy stomach lining and causing damage to the intestine. The food chem of being a celiac make it as bad as any other allergy, and some people may even experience gluten ataxia if they ingest cereal grains.
Other non conventional flours include sorghum flour, brown rice flour, and garbanzo flour. These alternative flours tend to be gluten free, but you should always check for cross contamination on actual product packaging and ingredient lists.
What is Maize?
Maize is the name commonly assigned to corn, and is a very popular grain in North America. Just the mere mention of maize likely conjures up images of the sprawling cornfields of Nebraska in your head, and corn is used in almost every food in America.
For example, high fructose corn syrup is what makes your candy treats sweet. It’s also what helps give a glass of Coca Cola its iconic taste and texture. However, corn also makes a great all purpose flour. But what makes it gluten free?
While maize is a grain, it belongs to a different branch of the grass family compared to the gluten filled cereal grains you may be used to. Wheat, barley, and rye are the most common culprits when it comes to an upset celiac.
Other non conventional flours such as sorghum flour, may still be made from different cereal grains. While not all these grains are the same, they can be easily contaminated or mixed with wheat flour to make the product more reliable in cooking.
The most popular brand of corn flour in the US would be Masa Harina. Masa Harina is not available in places like Europe, where domestic brands tend to replace the AMerican favorite. Masa Harina also produce corn starch, a different variation of the Masa Harina corn four you may be used to.
Different Types of Corn
We’ll discuss the difference between Masa Harina flour and starch later, but there are actually different types of corn flour as well. This versatile grain can be made into blue maize flour (grown in states like Arizona and New Mexico), or yellow corn flour. This distinction is as simple as the one between white rice flour and brown rice flour.
Yellow corn flour is the more common of the two, used as a versatile flour product for a composite pasta or in other food sources. Blue maize flour however, is just as reliable. Since blue maize flour is filled with macronutrients in food, it is perfect for a blue maize based pasta. This gluten free pasta will taste different thanks to blue maize flour.
Blue maize flour tends to have a nutty flavor to it compared to yellow corn flour. Yet, if you’re enjoying a blue maize based pasta or a yellow corn flour gluten free pasta, both will be unlikely to upset your stomach. Unlike durum wheat pasta, filled with gluten.
Other than blue maize pasta, blue maize flour can be found in a blue maize tortilla. However, blue corns are most common in blue maize tortilla chips, wrather than the popular wrapping for burritos and enchilladas. Thanks to alternative diets, we’re seeing the highest blue maize level of growth ever in recent times, and partly thanks to blue maize flour.
So if you’re looking for an alternative to your yellow corn flour without having to switch grain entirely to a common bean flour, coconut flour, cassava flour, or chickpea flour, try blue maize flour. Other than blue maize flours being a solid all purpose flour, you can also find white corn flour.
White corn flour uses the kernels of corn to produce white maize flour, although they are more often used in popcorn. This goves white corn flour more of a mild tastes compared to other types of maize flour, making it perfect for dishes where you don’t want to overpower other flavors.
White maize flour isn’t the most popular of gluten free flours, especially when compared to chickpea flour, a common bean flour, cassava flour, or even the blue maize level of popularity. Still, white maize flour is just as versatile as an all purpose flour. Maybe not for blue maize pasta, but for Mexican maize dishes instead.
Health Benefits of Maize Flour
Maize flour, like many grains, is a great source of sulble fiber. This dietary fiber content can help with the absorption of sugar and promotes a healthy bowel with up to ten grams of fiber. This fiber content and high content of grams of fiber also lowers cholesterol.
While you may have heard excessive grams of fiber can be bad, the dietary fiber content of maize flours is soluble fiber. This means those grams of fiber are more easily taken in by your body, to ease your bowel movements.
Other than the absorption of sugar, you can also find as much as twenty grams of protein in a serving of corn flour. These grams of protein make corn flour a great source for the stuff. As a rich source f protein, you’ll also get a very enjoyable taste.
This is because those grams of protein are a textured vegetable protein, with all the benefits of eating fresh corn packed down into the flour as a new source of protein. With little additives, this source of protein can help you eat many grams of protein and fiber without getting excessively full.
This means that overloading on grams of protein to bulk for muscle training and weight lifting is possible. Fitting these extra grams of protein into a healthy meal plan can be an excellent way to make your gym gains go further.
Starch Vs Flour
The food chem of starch and flour are entirely separate. Corn starch however, is totally different from other starches like tapioca starch or potato starch. This is because corn starch is not used as a gluten free binding agent, substituting guar gum, but the pigmented maize is instead used as a thickener in soups and sauces.
In Europe, corn flour and corn starch are used fairly interchangably, but the characterization of starch in the United States as a thickening agent is very distinct. Starch digestibility can vary, but corn starch is as easy to consume for your body as potato starch.
Your personal starch digestibility limit may be influenced by resistant starch content found in some mixed foods, thanks to the arrangement of starch components in in the food it was added to. This means resistant starch content become harder to digest.
While Mexican maize dishes are unlikely to use starch, something as simple as your local Chinese take out will. That iconic thickness of their sauces? That’s right, a characterization of starch. If you have issues with starch digestibility, it is best to avoid these viscous sauces.
Other than potato and corn, starch from banana cultivars may cause starch digestibility problems. That’s right, banana starch. Starch from banana cultivars is used in many South American dishes, so look out for Latin cuisine if you have problems with starch digestibility and the food chem of starches.
Gluten Free Starches and Flours
Gluten free flours can vary on taste and versaility, that’s why we have decided to provide you a list of ideal gluten free flours. These can vary from unripe plantain flours (these unripe plantain flours being similar to bananas) to coconut flour. That’s right, coconut flour, despite how impossible you might find milling a coconut to be.
- Corn flour
- Lentil flour
- Potato flour
- Mustard flour
- Unripe plantain flour
- Amaranth flour blend (an amaranth flour blend comes from the amaranth flour, and is commonly combined with wheat flour so check before buying)
- Chickpea flour
- Coconut flour
- Cassava flour (cassava flour is made from the cassava root)
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