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What are maltodextrins?

Maltodextrins are easily digestible polysaccharides composed of 3 to 19 D-glucose (dextrose) molecules, linked by alpha (1-4) bonds.

Nutrition Facts for Maltodextrin

  • Calories per gram = 3.8-4 [6,7]
  • Glycemic index = 80-120 (high) [5,8]
  • Sweetness, relative to sucrose = 0-70% [8]
  • Net carbohydrates = 100%

Maltodextrin Function

Maltodextrins are a source of energy. Like most other digestible carbohydrates, maltodextrins have about 4 Calories per gram [6,7].

Maltodextrin Sources

  • Maltodextrins are produced in the human bowel during digestion of starch by the action of the enzyme alpha-amylase [1].
  • Maltodextrins can be semi-artificially produced from corn, rice or potato starch (in the U.S.) [2], wheat starch, sorghum starch [3] or barley starch (in the EU) or tapioca starch. In the production process, acids or enzymes, like bacteria-derived alpha-amylase, are used. Maltodextrin is considered a food ingredient, not food additive [4].

Maltodextrin Usage in Foods

Maltodextrin can be used as a [4]:

  • Thickener or stabilizer in cold meats, confections, instant soups, coffee whiteners, sport drinks, infant formula, etc.
  • Fat replacer in low-calorie foods
  • Binder in pills

Maltodextrins Digestion

On the surface of the small intestinal wall maltodextrins are digested by the help of the enzymes maltase-glucoamylase and sucrase-isomaltase to glucose, which is then absorbed in the small intestine [1].

Maltodextrin and Blood Glucose

Maltodextrin glycemic index is 80-120 [5,8], which means it probably raises blood sugar levels about as much as glucose.

Maltodextrin Safety, Side Effects

Maltodextrin is Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS) by the U.S. Food ad Drug Administration (FDA) [2]. Maltodextrin products, even if derived from wheat or barley, should be gluten-free.

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