Maltodextrins are synthesized from chemical treatment (hydrolysis) of carbohydrates or sugars. The source carbohydrate may be corn, maize, wheat, rice, or tapioca. Maltodextrin does not taste sweet. Maltodextrin is used as a thickening or filling agent in puddings, custards, gelatins, sauces, and salad dressings. Because it doesn’t have much sweetness, it can be used with artificial sweeteners in canned fruits, desserts, and powdered drinks to increase its sweetness. They can also be used as preservatives to maximize the shelf life of the processed foods.

Maltodextrin is a highly processed food additive with a high glycemic index; hence, its consumption can cause an instant spike in the blood sugar level. Individuals with diabetes must make a note of this.

The starch obtained from the starch of corn, wheat, rice, potato, and tapioca is broken into small molecules. The starch molecules are cut further with the help of water and enzymes. After hydrolysis, the byproducts are purified and spray-dried to convert it into a powder.

What are the uses of maltodextrin?

Maltodextrin is mainly used as a food additive to

  • Thicken or add bulk to processed food.
  • Increase the sweetness of certain food products when combined with artificial sweeteners.
  • Maximize the shelf life of food products as a preservative.
  • Boost the texture of certain food products.
  • Serve as a replacement of sugar in sugar-free products.

Is maltodextrin safe?

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) classifies maltodextrin as a Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) food additive. Although the consumption of maltodextrin hasn’t been shown to cause any diseases or illnesses, overeating food with maltodextrin may negatively impact our health.

Regular consumption of highly processed, low fiber with a lot of added sugar can cause

Some scientists have claimed that maltodextrin may disturb the gut bacteria by destroying all the good bacteria and adding all the harmful bacteria. Hence, people with Crohn’s disease or other gastric diseases should limit the use of maltodextrin.

Maltodextrin, even if made from wheat, is safe in people with celiac disease and wheat or corn allergy because the gluten portion is removed during the hydrolysis.

What are the substitutes for maltodextrin?

The substitutes for maltodextrin include:

  • White or brown sugar
  • Coconut sugar
  • Agave
  • Honey
  • Maple syrup
  • Fruit juice concentrates
  • Molasses
  • Corn syrup
  • Guar gum
  • Pectin

You may see these names on the labels. It is necessary to shop wisely for food products.


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Medically Reviewed on 12/11/2020