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What is a maltodextrin?
You may have seen maltodextrin listed on the ingredients of many food products. You may have wondered what it is. Is it safe?
Maltodextrins are easily digestible carbohydrates made from natural corn starch. The starch is cooked, and then acid and/or enzymes are used to break the starch into smaller polymers (a process similar to that used by the body to digest carbohydrate). Maltodextrins are not made from or contain malt products.
Maltodextrins are polymers of dextrose (sometimes labeled "glucose polymers"). Maltodextrins do not contain significant quantities of protein, fat or fiber. Corn-based maltodextrins are safe for patients with celiac disease since they do not contain proteins from wheat, barley, oats or rye. However they may cause reactions in people who have allergies to corn. Since much corn is either GM corn or Gm contaminated maltodextrins may contain GM fragments, unless the product is certified organic.
Diabetics maltodextrin’s glycemic index is considered to be metabolically equivalent to glucose (dextrose). In other words it is equivalent to sugar but not as sweet.
Why is it used? The finished product…
- Is easily digestible
- Is a convenient source of energy
- Contains approximately 4 calories per gram
- Is cold-water soluble
- Has low or no sweetness
- Helps in producing many liquid and dried nutritional products
Many brands of soymilk contain maltodextrins, even health store brands. So read the ingredients list of your favourite soymilk carefully.
Maltodextrins and corn syrup solids are each mixtures of glucose polymers produced by the controlled depolymerization of corn starch. They are most often categorized by dextrose equivalence (DE). DE is a measure of reducing power compared to a dextrose standard of 100. The higher the DE, the greater the extent of starch depolymerization, resulting in a smaller average polymer size.
Maltodextrins are excellent solids builders for standard and low-fat products. They are effective spray-drying aids for flavors, fruit juices, and other hard-to-dry products. They also are easily digestible carbohydrates for nutritional beverages.