From flour and corn starch to artificial agents, everyone has heard of food thickeners.

They are used in soups, sauces, and smoothies, and they are even used as thickening and binding ingredients in baking.

Overall, there are many reasons you should use thickeners in your cooking and baking – and of the many benefits of doing so, the following are undoubtedly some of the best.

The Benefits of Using Food Thickeners

1. Problems Swallowing

If you have trouble swallowing, you may have heard of a condition called dysphagia. This is an ailment that makes it difficult for a person to swallow. However, food thickeners can help people suffering from this problem.

If liquid food – such as soups, broths, and smoothies – is thickened, it can help people with this condition become fuller and eat more comfortably, which can in turn help them stay healthy and maintain their weight. By keeping their weight up and getting the nutrition they need from food, their immune system is kept strong, and they’ll be less likely to fall ill.

Specially formulated thickeners, such as SimplyThick Easy mix, are made for people with this condition, making it the perfect way to thicken food that’ll help them stay fed and healthy.

2. Baking

Thickeners can be excellent in baking. If you are making brownies, they can sometimes be too runny and not the thick, chewy consistency you desire – but that’s where thickeners come in to save the day.

Corn starch and potato starch are most commonly used in baking, along with all-purpose flour. Thes three powdery musketeers can easily turn a soggy sponge around and make any baked goods more structured. Plus, they’re usually cheap and easy to find in any supermarket, making them preferred by kitchen lovers worldwide.

On the other hand, there are cons to the starches. When baking, you can easily overheat corn and potato starch, so it is best to mix them in room temperature. It is also possible to over freeze them. If you overheat or over freeze them, they can potentially lose their thickening abilities, and you will be left with an even runnier bake than before!

3. Gluten-Free

There are many gluten-free thickeners on the shelves of your much-loved shops. Potato and corn starch are both gluten-less (though it is best to check the packet before buying, of course). This means that these two are perfect for when you want to make thicker food but you have a gluten allergy. What’s more, their lack of gluten also means you can serve whatever you are making to more people; should any of your friends and family suffer from gluten intolerance, they’ll still be able to indulge in your glorious cakes and cookies (just avoid using flour, though – it’s chock full of the pesky ingredient that is gluten!)

4. Makes Food Last Longer

If you have ever baked, you know that those goods don’t have a very long shelf life, and they have to be eaten fairly fast. With food thickeners, however, you can make your goodies last a bit longer. This isn’t just excellent in terms of a longer lifespan for your sweet treats; you also don’t have to worry about eating a whole batch at once – instead, you can serve your baked goods over a few days and enjoy them slowly instead of feeling pressured to consume them quickly for fear of them spoiling.

What does this mean exactly? Well, the fact that your bakes and cakes last longer also means that you’ll save money and reduce your food waste since you won’t be throwing out your culinary creations if they have a longer shelf life.

Annalise O'Conner is a Registered Dietitian and Personalized Nutritionist. She is a lecturer at the University of California, Berkeley, teaching nutrition in the School of Public Health and APAN (Asian Pacific Islander American Network) Email: [email protected]

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