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Polydextrose (PDX)

What is polydextrose (PDX)?

Polydextrose (PDX) is a synthetic low-calorie carbohydrate, a polysaccharide composed of D-glucose (dextrose) and sorbitol, which are derived from cornstarch, and citric or phosphoric acid [1]. Polydextrose is a soluble fiber [1].

Nutrition Facts

  • Calories per gram: ~1
  • Glycemic index (GI) = 4-7
  • Sweetness = not sweet
  • Net carbs = zero

Polydextrose Absorption and Metabolism

Polydextrose cannot be digested in the small intestine, but it can be partially broken down (fermented) by beneficial large intestinal bacteria into gases and substances, which are partly absorbed and can provide about 1.2 kilocalories per gram [1,4].

Polydextrose as a Food Additive

Polydextrose is used as a thickener, stabilizer, humidifier (wetting agent) or texturizer in non-sweat baked goods, dairy products, ice creams, breakfast cereals, nutritional beverages, fruit spreads, fillings, chicken nuggets, burgers, surimi, chewing gums, infant formulas, or as a fat or sugar replacer in reduced-calorie foods [3-pp.375-377]. In the European Union, polydextrose is labeled as E number E1200 [2].

Polydextrose Prebiotic Supplements

Polydextrose is sold as a prebiotic supplement but, according to Journal of Nutrition, it is currently not considered prebiotic [5].

Possible Polydextrose Benefits

Polydextrose has a low glycemic index (GI = 4-7) [3-p.9;6] and does not significantly raise blood glucose and insulin levels.

Safety

Polydextrose is Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS) by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) [1]. In amounts usually used in foods, it is considered as non-toxic [1]. Polydextrose also has an “Acceptable Daily Intake (ADI) not specified” status by The Joint Food and Agriculture Organization/World Health Organization Expert Committee on Food Additives, which is the highest safety category (JECFA) [3-p.379].

Pregnancy. There seems to be lack of studies about polydextrose safety during pregnancy and breastfeeding.

Dangers, Side Effects

If ingested in excess–>50 grams in a single dose, or >90 grams per day–, it can cause abdominal bloating and flatulence [1,3-p.374].

Polydextrose and Cooking

Physical properties [3-p.370]:

  • A white, non-sweet fine or granulated powder, or sweetened liquid; taste varies according to the exact product
  • Solubility in water at 77° F (25° C) = 80 g/100 mL [3-p.370]; insoluble in ethanol
  • Undergoes the Maillard browning reaction

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Is polydextrose vegan and gluten-free?

Polydextrose is usually produced from cornstarch, so it is vegan and gluten-free.

Related Nutrients

  1. Expert Panel, 2007, Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS) Determination for the Addition of Polydextrose to Infant Formula as a Prebiotic Ingredient In Combination with Galactooligosaccharides  US Food and Drug Administration
  2. Current EU approved additives and their E Numbers  Food Standard Agency
  3. Mitchell H, 2006, Sweeteners and Sugar Alternatives in Food Technology
  4. Elia M et al, 2007, Energy values of macronutrients and specific carbohydrates in foods  European Journal of Clinical Nutrition
  5. Roberfroid, M., 2007, Prebiotics: the concept revisited  The Journal of Nutrition
  6. Glycemic Index

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