Although it comes from plants, it is highly processed.
It is a white powder that is made of:
- Potato starch.
- Wheat starch.
To do this, the starches are cooked first, and then acids or enzymes like heat-stable bacterial alpha-amylase are added to break it down further.
The resulting white powder is soluble in water and has a neutral taste.
Maltodextrins are closely related to corn syrup solids, the only difference being their sugar content.
Both undergo hydrolysis, a chemical process that involves the addition of water to aid decomposition.
However, after hydrolysis, the corn syrup solids are at least 20 percent sugar, while the maltodextrin is less than 20 percent sugar.
Is maltodextrin safe?
It has been approved as a safe food additive. It is also included in the nutritional value of foods as part of the total carbohydrate count.
But carbohydrates shouldn’t account for more than 45-65 percent of total calories in a balanced diet.
Ideally, most should be complex carbohydrates that are high in fiber, not foods that raise blood sugar quickly.
If people have diabetes or insulin resistance, or if a doctor recommends a low-carb diet, you should include whatever maltodextrin you eat in your total carbohydrate count for the day.
Maltodextrin is generally only present in food in small amounts. It will not have a significant effect on your total carbohydrate intake, due to its high glycemic index.
This means that it can cause a rise in blood sugar level. It is safe to consume in very small amounts, but people with diabetes need to be especially careful.
Diets that consist primarily of foods with a low glycemic index are beneficial for everyone, regardless of whether or not they have a blood sugar-related condition such as diabetes.
Is maltodextrin in food?
Maltodextrin is generally used as a thickener or filler to increase the volume of a processed food. It is also a preservative that increases the shelf life of packaged foods.
It’s inexpensive and easy to produce, making it useful for thickening products like instant pudding, jellies, sauces, and salad dressings.
It can also be combined with artificial sweeteners to sweeten products such as canned fruits, desserts, and powdered drinks. It’s even used as a thickener in personal care items like lotions and hair care products.
What is the nutritional value of maltodextrin?
Maltodextrin has 4 calories per gram, the same number of calories as sucrose or table sugar.
Like sugar, the body can digest maltodextrin quickly, so it’s helpful if you need a quick boost of calories and energy.
However, the glycemic index of maltodextrin is higher than table sugar, which ranges from 106 to 136. This means that it can raise your blood sugar very quickly.
When should maltodextrin be avoided?
Maltodextrin’s high glycemic index means that it can cause spikes in blood sugar, especially if consumed in large amounts.
Because of this, it may need to be avoided or limited if the individual suffers from diabetes or insulin resistance. It should also be avoided if the person is prone to developing diabetes.
Another reason to limit maltodextrin is to keep your gut bacteria healthy. According to one study, maltodextrin can change the composition of your gut bacteria in a way that makes you more susceptible to disease.
It can suppress the growth of probiotics in the digestive system, which are important for the functioning of the immune system.
The same study showed that maltodextrin can increase the growth of bacteria like E. coli, which is associated with autoimmune disorders like Crohn’s disease.
If a person is at risk of developing an autoimmune or digestive disorder, then they should avoid maltodextrin because it can be harmful to their health.
Maltodextrin and gluten
If a person is on a gluten-free diet, they may be concerned about maltodextrin because it has “malt” in the name.
The malt is made from barley, so it contains gluten. However, maltodextrin is gluten-free, even when made from wheat.
The processing that wheat starches undergo in creating maltodextrin makes it gluten-free. So if a person has celiac disease or is on a gluten-free diet, they can continue to consume maltodextrin.
Maltodextrin and weight loss
If an individual is trying to lose weight, they will want to avoid maltodextrin. It is essentially a sweetener and carbohydrate with no nutritional value, and it causes a spike in blood sugar, because the sugar levels in maltodextrin can lead to weight gain.
Maltodextrin and genetically modified foods
Finally, because it is often used as a cheap thickener or filler, maltodextrin is generally made from genetically modified corn.
GMO corn is safe and meets the same standards as non-GMO plants.
But if you choose to avoid them, that doesn’t mean you should avoid all foods that contain maltodextrin. Any food labeled organic must also be GMO-free.
Is maltodextrin okay for people with diabetes?
Since maltodextrin has the potential to cause rapid spikes in blood sugar levels, people with diabetes would be better off avoiding it heavily.
However, maltodextrin is often safe in small doses. It should be fine as long as maltodextrin is only consumed in small amounts and counted in your total carbohydrates for the day.
If the affected person is not sure how it will affect their blood sugar level, check their glucose levels more frequently when adding maltodextrin to the diet recommended by the treating physician.
Signs that maltodextrin has caused a rise in blood sugar include:
- Sudden headache
- Increased thirst.
- Trouble concentrating
- Blurry vision.
- Frequent dizziness
If you experience any of these symptoms, you should check your blood sugar levels immediately. If they are too high, you should contact your treating physician.
Some artificial sweeteners are considered better options for managing blood sugar.
However, new research is dispelling that myth by revealing that artificial sweeteners affect gut bacteria and indirectly affect insulin sensitivity.
Is Maltodextrin Good?
Because maltodextrin is a fast-digesting carbohydrate, it is often included in sports drinks and snacks.
For bodybuilders and other athletes trying to gain weight, maltodextrin can be a good source of quick calories during or after a workout.
Since maltodextrin doesn’t use as much water to digest as some carbohydrates, it’s a good way to get quick calories without getting dehydrated.
Some research also shows that maltodextrin supplements can help maintain anaerobic power during exercise.
Some people with chronic hypoglycemia take maltodextrin as part of their regular treatment.
Because maltodextrin causes a faster rise in blood sugar, it is an effective treatment for those struggling to maintain normal blood sugar levels. If a person has too low a glucose level, they have a quick fix.
There is some evidence that fermentation of maltodextrin in the intestines might act as an agent that helps prevent colorectal cancer.
A recent study found that Fibersol-2, a digestive resistant form of maltodextrin, had antitumor activity. Prevents tumor growth without apparent toxic side effects.
Another study found that digestive resistant maltodextrin had positive effects on overall digestion.
It improved intestinal functions, such as colon transit time, stool volume, and stool consistency.
What are some alternatives to maltodextrin?
Common sweeteners used in home cooking in place of maltodextrin include:
- White or brown sugar.
- Coconut sugar
- Maple syrup.
- Fruit juice concentrates.
- Corn syrup.
These are all sweeteners that can cause spikes and spikes in blood sugar levels, just like maltodextrin.
People should consider using whole fruit puree, puree, or slices to sweeten foods for a reward of fiber, sweetness, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and water content.
Other thickening agents such as guar gum and pectin can be used as substitutes in cooking and baking.
Sweeteners that may not affect blood sugar levels as much, as long as they are consumed in moderation, include:
- Sugar alcohols such as erythritol or sorbitol.
- Stevia-based sweeteners.
Sugar alcohols such as polydextrose are used to sweeten some foods and can be found in processed foods that are labeled “no sugar” or “no added sugar.”
Sugar alcohols are partially absorbed by the body, which prevents them from having the same impact on blood sugar as other sweeteners.
Even so, they should still be limited to 10 grams per day to prevent gastrointestinal side effects like flatulence. Erythritol is reported to be often more tolerable.
Like sugar and other simple carbohydrates, maltodextrin can be part of a healthy diet, but it should not be the main dish, especially for diabetics and those who want to maintain their weight.
As long as its use is limited and balanced with fiber and protein, maltodextrin can add valuable carbohydrates and energy to the diet for athletes and those who need to increase blood sugar levels.
Any component is bad for the body if consumed or used in excess, so a balanced diet is always recommended to nourish the body and ensure a healthy life.