What is maltodextrin? It doesn’t sound familiar right? Well, stay calm. We’re about to take you on a journey of what maltodextrin is all about. We would be looking at how it’s made and a few other things. So keep scrolling.
Well, people are being encouraged to read labels today. Why? Because there are a lot of secret ingredients in a lot of these foods. And the only way to find out is to read labels. Some who have been diligent with this have constantly seen the ingredient maltodextrin. But they don’t know what this ingredient is. It is a common additive and is usually found in a lot of processed foods. But the bigger question here is, is it healthy? Is maltodextrin safe for your health? Well, you’ll find out all these as we go further in this short journey.
What is Maltodextrin?
So this additive is a white powdery substance. It’s starchy. Manufacturers add maltodextrin to foods to make it thicker, increase its shelf life, or improve the flavor of the food. This powder is tasteless and dissolves easily in water.
You would find maltodextrin in many foods such as candies, soft drinks, and pastries. When added to food, you would usually find it on the label of the food. Some athletes also use maltodextrin as a carb supplement.
The thing though, is that a lot of people believe maltodextrin is harmful to health. But is this true? Well, let’s first take a look at how this additive is made.
Maltodextrin is known to come from plants. But even with this, it is highly processed. The first step is that the starches are well-cooked. After that, acids or enzymes are added to it. Such enzymes include heat-stable bacterial alpha-amylase. The purpose of most enzymes is to speed up the reaction. And that’s what this enzyme does. It helps break down the starch faster and further.
The result of these processes is a tasteless white powder.
Maltodextrins are very much similar to solid corn syrups. The main difference between these two is their sugar content. They both undergo hydrolysis. Hydrolysis is the addition of water to split a molecule or in simple terms breaking it down.
But after hydrolysis, solid corn syrups contain a minimum of 20% of sugar. While maltodextrin contains a maximum of 20% of sugar.
Maltodextrin is a substance that’s easy to produce and is also inexpensive. It can be combined with other artificial sweeteners. This helps sweeten the products.
Maltodextrin has the same nutritional value as table sugar and sucrose. It contains about 4 calories in each gram. Just like normal sugar, your body can digest maltodextrin normally. That’s why it’s a good option if you need a quick boost of energy.
One thing is that the GI of this additive is a bit high. It ranges from 106 – 136. That means, when maltodextrin is consumed, it can raise blood glucose levels easily.
Is Maltodextrin Safe?
Maltodextrin is considered safe by the U.S FDA. And it is recognized as a safe food additive. But even with this, we can’t conclude the maltodextrin is safe. It is high in sugar, and if consumed in large amounts, can lead to an increase in blood glucose level.
Let’s have a look at some of the dangers that come with consuming this additive.
- Diabetes: For diabetic patients and people that are insulin resistant, consuming maltodextrin regularly is a bad idea. That’s because it has a high GI. And foods that have a high GI go into the bloodstream and increase blood glucose easily. That means that even small amounts of maltodextrin can cause an increase in your blood glucose level. And you sure do not want that.
- Allergies and intolerance: Many food additives out there are known to cause allergic reactions and intolerances such as bloating, weight gain, gas, and flatulence. It may even cause other symptoms such as asthma, skin irritation, difficulty in breathing, and cramping.
- Affects gut bacteria: There aren’t many studies to prove this. But some studies have been carried out on mice. And it shows that maltodextrin can reduce good gut bacteria and increase bad gut bacteria. With that, a person is at high risk of having an infection. At the same time, it can also damage the intestine. Which isn’t a good thing.
- Genetically modified ingredients: As you already know, maltodextrin is produced from starches, and some of these plant crops are genetically modified, so they contain a lot of chemicals such as herbicides, and when consumed, are toxic to the body. Also, it is believed that these genetically modified crops can cause many health conditions. Such as Alzheimer’s disease and kidney problems. There’s very little evidence to back it up. So it has not been fully accepted by people.
Benefits of Maltodextrin
- Exercise: For athletes that need a quick source of energy and calories this is a good source. Maltodextrin is good for people that are trying to gain some weight. That’s why many athletes consume products that have maltodextrin before and after working out.
- Chronic hypoglycemia: It helps spike blood glucose levels within a short period. And that’s one thing that can be of benefit to people with chronic hypoglycemia. They would be able to raise their blood glucose level easily.