Uses and Benefits of Maltodextrin

Uses and Benefits of Maltodextrin

Maltodextrin is a soluble white powder made of carbohydrates. Through a process known as hydrolysis, starches are broken down into a powder. It is often used as a food additive to improve the taste and texture of pre-packaged foods.

This type of carbohydrate extends the shelf life of sweeteners, baked goods, and supplements. Despite how often it is used in foods in the United States, maltodextrin’s high glycemic index may affect blood sugar and glucose levels.

Maltodextrin is one of the most common food additives in the U.S. It prevents moisture from building up so food does not spoil as quickly in your favorite prepackaged goods.

Although maltodextrin is often used for large-scale food production, it can also be purchased by people to use when cooking at home. One of the main uses of maltodextrin is to improve the texture of baked goods and sweeteners. Sometimes maltodextrin is added to gravies, instant puddings, and salad dressings to give them a thicker texture.

In some instances, maltodextrin is used instead of sucrose (a sugar compound) in ice cream, cereals, and snacks. You may see maltodextrin listed as an ingredient in sports drinks.

Maltodextrin also reduces the sweetness in some foods. Along with increasing your energy, adding maltodextrin to a sports drink keeps it from tasting too sweet while helping your muscles recover post-workout.

It is also used as an ingredient in some infant formulas. In infant formulas and other foods, maltodextrin is used as a substitute for lactose. It can also be found in some alcoholic beverages and low-fat products.

Maltodextrin as a Supplement

Increased carbohydrate intake is a common practice for strength training. Athletes can utilize maltodextrin supplements to improve exercise performance and absorb carbohydrates rapidly.

Studies show that an increase in carbohydrates further delays muscle fatigue during intense exercise. However, more research is needed to know how much effect maltodextrin specifically has on athletic performance.

Maltodextrin is entirely made up of carbohydrates. Here’s the nutrition breakdown for a 56-gram serving of unflavored maltodextrin powder:

  • Calories: 210
  • Carbs: 53 grams (g)
  • Protein: 0g
  • Fat: 0g
  • Sugar: 2g

Because it’s so high in carbs, it’s not the best choice for people who are trying to manage their blood sugar or who have diabetes. Maltodextrin is considered a rapidly digestible carbohydrate, meaning your body absorbs it quickly because it is made of carbohydrates that help to stabilize your blood sugar.

A small study found that consuming maltodextrin increased blood sugar levels after meals in participants with and without type 2 diabetes. The researchers found that participants with diabetes saw a greater increase in their blood sugar.

However, while maltodextrin can affect blood sugar for people with significantly high blood sugar levels, it’s usually consumed in small amounts that are too few to have any concrete effect on your glycemic (blood sugar) control.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) first considered maltodextrin safe for consumption in the 1950s with a GRAS certification—a designation for ingredients stamped as safe for their intended use. However, researchers have identified a few health concerns with using maltodextrin in food.

Although small amounts of maltodextrin are unlikely to significantly affect your blood sugar, consuming larger amounts might harm your blood sugar levels. Maltodextrin is a carbohydrate with a high glycemic index of 185-105. Consuming maltodextrin supplements regularly may lead to hyperglycemia (high blood sugar) in people with normal or low blood sugar levels.

Maltodextrin may also reduce good bacteria in your body that keep your gut healthy. More research is needed, but researchers are concerned that the bacteria imbalance caused by maltodextrin may be linked to the increased prevalence of gut disorders like inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

Limited research exists on the long-term effects of maltodextrin on the human body. Consult your healthcare provider before taking maltodextrin supplements.

Maltodextrin is one of the most common additives used in food in the U.S. Because it is so common in packaged foods, it can be difficult to avoid consuming it. Check the ingredient list on your favorite products to see if they contain maltodextrin.

There are plenty of substitutes for maltodextrin, especially when you are cooking your own meals. Tapioca starch is a tasteless alternative that also thickens foods. Corn starch and pectin can also thicken the consistency of sauces, puddings, and mousses.

Sugar alcohols are another alternative to maltodextrin that has less effect on blood sugar levels but may cause other side effects. Sugar alcohols like erythritol can also thicken foods. However, some sugar alcohols may have some gastrointestinal side effects. Check with your healthcare provider before making recipes with maltodextrin.

Maltodextrin is a food additive commonly used to improve the texture of foods, increase the shelf life of pre-packaged foods, and give your body more energy for physical activity. This type of carbohydrate has been used for decades in most pre-packaged foods in the U.S. and as a supplement.

Though it is FDA-approved for safety, consuming too much maltodextrin may be harmful to your blood sugar, especially if you have diabetes. Consult your healthcare provider about maltodextrin if you are considering taking it as a supplement or using it to cook food.

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