Food Labels: What is Maltodextrin

Maltodextrin will be common knowledge to those who check labels frequently.   In America it can be made from corn more than here, and it has also been known to be made here in the UK from rice, potato starch, barley or wheat.  I try to avoid this as much as possible as I always want to keep my wheat intake as low as I can.

I trawled through my old notes from university to see what we were taught on the stuff.

Apparently it is an oligosaccharide made from starch and partial hydrolysis.  It’s usually a powder and is easily digestible as it can be absorbed by the body as quickly as glucose.

It’s made from cooking the starch and adding enzymes to break the starch down even further, until it reaches a fine powder.

It can be used in fizzy drinks and sweets, as well as other processed foods as a thickener and for a binding agent in medicines.   Checking things on our supermarket shelves, I’ve found it in canned fruits, snacks, desserts, cook in the bag mixes and much more.  It can also add a sweet taste to a product, and as it has less calories than the frighteningly fattening sugar.  That means it can be used to make sugar substitutes.

Maltodextrin isn’t natural, it’s processed, but it is made from real food and not from the fake additives that are cooked up in some labaratories.  If maltodextrin was the only thing that worried me in a processed food ingredient list, I wouldn’t worry too much, although I’d prefer to know what it was reduced from in the processing stages.


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