What Is Maltodextrin and Is It Unhealthy for You? What 30 Research Say

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Maltodextrin molecule

The central theses

  1. Maltodextrin is a high glycemic index polysaccharide sugar made from starch and used to improve the texture, taste and shelf life of many processed foods.
  2. Most research shows that maltodextrin is as safe as regular table sugar and doesn't harm your gut bacteria, promote tooth decay, or contribute more to weight gain than other types of carbohydrates.
  3. Read on to find out exactly how maltodextrin affects your health and the benefits of maltodextrin.

They are in the supermarket and are filling up with food.

As a health conscious consumer, look at the nutrition labels of some items on your list before adding them to your cart.

And one ingredient keeps popping up: Maltodextrin.

Nowadays, it seems like you can't display a single nutrition label without seeing that word, whether it's pasta, peanut butter, soup, or even splenda.

You have probably also heard some things about this ingredient.

You may have heard that it is a dangerous "chemical" that is added to processed foods.

Or maybe you have heard that it is a source of "empty calories" related to obesity, diabetes and malnutrition.

Or maybe you've heard that it's a simple source of sugar found in energy bars and drinks – something that's helpful for hardcore endurance athletes but unhealthy for normal people.

Is any of it true?

Read on to find out!

What is maltodextrin?

Maltodextrin is a PolysaccharideThis is a type of carbohydrate that is made up of a number of other sugar molecules.

This is what the molecule looks like:

To better understand what maltodextrin is, the three different types of sugar molecules should be briefly examined:

  • Monosaccharides (mono- means "one") are carbohydrates that consist entirely of a single type of sugar molecule such as glucose or fructose.
  • Oligosaccharides (Oligo– means "few") are carbohydrates consisting of two to ten monosaccharide molecules such as sucrose (glucose + fructose) and raffinose (galactose + glucose + fructose).
  • Poysaccharide (poly– means "many" are carbohydrates consisting of ten or more (and sometimes hundreds or thousands) of sugar molecules such as starch, cellulose and maltodextrin.

Maltodextrin falls into the latter category because it is a very long chain of repeating glucose molecules that are linked together.

To produce pure maltodextrin, starchy foods such as wheat, corn, potatoes and rice are boiled in water and then exposed to various acids and enzymes to separate the maltodextrin from other sugars.

This process is called hydrolysisand it is used to make a number of other products such as hydrolyzed whey protein powder, hydrolyzed collagen and soy sauce. After this process, the liquid containing maltodextrin is cleaned, filtered and spray dried to produce a white, odorless and almost tasteless powder.

This is how the finished product looks:


In terms of its nutritional value, maltodextrin contains no vitamins or minerals and is 95% carbohydrate and 5% water.

As you probably know, every gram of carbohydrates contains 4 calories. Therefore, one gram of maltodextrin contains 0.95 grams of carbohydrates and about 3.8 calories.

Like glucose, white bread and other simple carbohydrates, maltodextrin has a high glycemic index (GI) of about 100. This is because intestinal maltodextrin molecules break down into smaller glucose units that are quickly absorbed and lead to an increase in blood sugar levels.

Summary: Maltodextrin is a polysaccharide sugar with a high glycemic index, which is made from starch and is usually in the form of a white, odorless and almost tasteless powder.

What foods contain maltodextrin?

While the fitness community typically only associates maltodextrin with sports drinks to improve athletic performance, it actually has several other uses.

In particular, maltodextrin is often added to foods to:

  • Preserve taste
  • Thicken products by helping other ingredients bind together
  • Improve the texture and mouthfeel
  • Extend shelf life
  • Replace sugar or fat while maintaining texture and structure

With this in mind, it is not surprising that a large number of highly processed foods and beverages can contain maltodextrin, including:

  • Low calorie sweeteners
  • Sports drinks
  • Salad sauce
  • Spreads, margarine and butter
  • Mayonnaise and milk products
  • Breakfast cereals and baked goods
  • Snacks, soda and sweets
  • Soups and frozen dishes
  • Protein bars and powder
  • Baby food and infant formula

Quite a list!

However, before you sort out any foods in your pantry that contain maltodextrin, take a moment to see how this ingredient really affects your health.

Summary: Maltodextrin is often added to processed foods and beverages such as infant formula, low-calorie sweeteners, baked goods, snacks, frozen foods, and protein bars to preserve taste, act as a thickener, improve texture, and expand shelf life.

Is Maltodextrin Safe?

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), maltodextrin is a GRAS food additive (generally recognized as safe) that is fully digested and non-toxic.

Likewise according to a 2016 review The substitution of maltodextrin for glucose by scientists at the Nestlé Research Center does not appear to have any positive or negative health effects.

Of course, it's important to remember according to According to the World Health Organization, "free sugars" (i.e. refined sugar added) should initially not exceed 10% of our total daily energy intake. This is not necessarily because "sugar is bad", but because you are consuming more sugar to get:

So it's not that maltodextrin is bad for you. Like most sugars, it is more or less harmless in moderation and is unlikely to cause health problems unless you eat large amounts of it for a long time.

Now you may have heard a fitness guru or two who says something like "Maltodextrin contains genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and it will devastate your gut!"

But is that true?

Let's find out.

Does maltodextrin hurt your gut microbiome?

Maltodextrin allergy

The gut microbiome refers to the different types of bacteria that live in the gut, and these bacteria play an important role in a number of different functions in the body.

As the?

For example, keep in mind that some of these bacteria help:

  • Protect against illness-causing Pathogens such as Escherichia coli, Salmonella enterica, and Clostridium difficile
  • Help in the Digestion and absorption of nutrients such as protein, fiber and vegetable polyphenols
  • To produce Micronutrients like vitamins K, B3 and B12
  • Protect against Toxins such as the toxins EHEC Shiga, Clostridium difficile and Bacillus cereus

It is also believed that maintaining a wide variety and the right balance of different microorganisms in our gut can be important for good health.

That's because research Has shown that changes in the composition or function of the gut microbiome are associated with diseases and health conditions such as arteriosclerosis, obesity, allergies, diabetes and inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD).

Back to maltodextrin, while there is generally a lack of studies that look at the effects on gut bacteria, some research suggests that simple sugars like maltodextrin can negatively affect the composition and function of the gut microbiome.

However, there are a few reasons why you don't want to take this research too seriously:

  • Almost all relevant studies have been carried out on animals (usually mice or pigs) and the results are not always transferable to humans. (The anatomy and function of the human intestinal tract is different in many ways and houses a different selection and number of bacteria).
  • Most of these studies involved feeding these animals with much larger amounts of sugar than a human would get from a balanced diet. For example in this study From the Korea Food Research Institute, the scientists fed mice with 65% of the calories that came exclusively from added sugars (glucose / fructose and sucrose). It's like a person who eats 325 grams – almost three quarters of a pound – of pure sugar a day.
  • Much research on the effects of the gut microbiome on human health is speculative, and we still know very little about how small changes in diet, exercise, and other habits affect its composition, and even less about how it affects it could affect our health.

At this point there is probably a lot more than we do Not know about the connections between our diet, the gut microbiome and our health as what we do to do knows. That said, we know that the composition and function of the gut microbiome is important for good health, but all claims about how individual nutrients can affect health through changes in the gut microbiome are speculations rather than facts.

So when people say this or that food product or chemical or supplement drastically changes your health by changing your gut bacteria, take your claims with a giant shaker full of salt.

Summary: Eating small to moderate amounts of maltodextrin is very unlikely to affect your gut bacteria.

Does maltodextrin cause tooth decay?

Caries is the breakdown of teeth caused by acids formed by oral bacteria.

Here's how the process works:

Bacteria feed on food particles or sugar on the surface of your teeth, causing them to secrete acid. That acid then dissolves the hard tissue of the teeth (tooth enamel, dentin and cement), which leads to tooth cavities.

As you can imagine, the bacteria in your mouth like to swallow maltodextrin.

It is therefore not surprising that maltodextrin can contribute to tooth decay by putting acid-producing bacteria in your mouth.

Before you get too excited, keep the following in mind:

  1. These is true from all forms of sugar, from the natural, organic, non-genetically modified, fairly traded starch in your bananas to corn syrup with high fructose content from a can of Mountain Dew.
  2. Research shows that maltodextrin is less effective than other types of sugar in feeding acid-producing bacteria.

After one study Scientists at the University of Leeds, conducted on 10 adult subjects, found that drinks containing maltodextrin stimulate acid production significantly less than drinks containing sucrose (table sugar).

In other words, drinking normal table sugar made the bacteria produce much more acid in your mouth than drinking maltodextrin.

Of course, this doesn't mean that you should replace all the table sugar in your home with maltodextrin. It just means that maltodextrin is not only harmful to your teeth and may even be slightly less harmful than some similar alternatives.

The best way to protect your teeth from the negative effects of maltodextrin (and all other sugars) is to practice good oral hygiene, which includes brushing and flossing daily and consuming a little extra sugar.

Who would have thought that, right?

Summary: There is no evidence that maltodextrin promotes tooth decay more than any other type of sugar, but it can if it is consumed in excessive amounts and you do not practice good oral hygiene.

Does Maltodextrin Cause Obesity And Type 2 Diabetes?

Maltodextrin dangers

Many people, especially low-carbohydrate evangelists, believe that maltodextrin contributes to obesity and type 2 diabetes. Here is her thinking in a nutshell:

Carbohydrates, especially in the form of simple sugars, are fattened.

Since maltodextrin consists of simple sugars and when taken ingestion leads to an increase in blood sugar and insulin levels, this inevitably leads to obesity, insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.

Aaaannnnddd pretty much everything is wrong.

It is true that maltodextrin is a simple sugar, that it has a high glycemic index, and that eating causes an increase in insulin and blood sugar levels, but none of this means that it becomes fat.

For more information, see these two articles. However, here is the essential:

Contrary to the claims of some self-proclaimed experts and fake internet doctors, neither sugar, insulin nor carbohydrates with a high glycemic index cause obesity or Type 2 diabetes.

Instead, the main cause of these two conditions is as follows:

Eat too much in relation to your level of activity.

In other words, calories in versus calories out.

Or more specifically, a persistent imbalance between the amount of energy you consume and the amount of energy you consume. leads to Weight gain and increased blood sugar and insulin levels.

"But I saw research A higher intake of simple sugar leads to obesity and diabetes! “You may think.

Not really.

What you are indeed Studies have shown that there is a higher intake of simple sugar connected with with a higher incidence of obesity and diabetes – a big difference!

You see, it makes sense for research to uncover these connections, since people with obesity not only eat too much chicken and broccoli, but usually eat too much delicious and very tasty junk food. The type of junk food that also contains sugar.

Here's another fun fact to bring this point home: you know what else is connected with with obesity and type 2 diabetes? Diet soda consumption.

Is that because diet soda causes an increase in insulin and blood sugar levels? No – that's because people who generally need to lose the most weight also tend to drink a lot of diet soda. Therefore, the problem is not diet soda, but the fact that they are initially overweight.

The same applies to maltodextrin.

Although many overweight or obese people and people with type 2 diabetes eat a lot of maltodextrin, they also eat a lot more calories than they should, and it is these extra calories that are responsible for their health problems.

Here is the message to take away: Neither maltodextrin nor added sugar fatten per se or lead to insulin resistance if they are consumed in moderation as part of an overall healthy lifestyle.

Summary: Maltodexrin does not promote weight gain or obesity more than other types of carbohydrates. Overeating maltodextrin (and any other calorie source) leads to weight gain, obesity and diabetes.

What are the potential health and performance benefits of maltodextrin?

Maltodextrin dangers

As a rule, you want to minimize the intake of processed, refined, simple sugars like maltodextrin.

These sugars aren't inherently bad for you, but they're easy to overeat and contain no micronutrients, fiber, or anything but calories.

Instead, it's better if you get most of your calories from nutritious, minimally processed foods like lean meats, fish, legumes, nuts, and whole grains.

However, there are some cases where eating simple sugars like maltodextrin might be a good idea.

Maltodextrin and endurance performance

In the world of endurance training, maltodextrin is often added to sports drinks to help athletes refuel and rehydrate during exercise.

To better understand why maltodextrin is added to sports drinks, let's first briefly look at the causes of fatigue during endurance training.

Generally the most important diet Factors Responsible for fatigue and reduced performance during endurance training are:

  • Exhaustion of the body's glycogen stores
  • Dehydration due to water loss through sweat and breathing

With this in mind, sports drinks are said to improve performance by helping to replenish the body's glycogen stores and hydration.

That's why sports drinks usually contain carbohydrates and water.

You can probably see where I'm going with it, right?

Because sports drinks contain carbohydrates with a high glycemic index and maltodextrin is a carbohydrate with a high glycemic index, it makes sense to be a candidate for inclusion in sports drinks.

But why with maltodextrin and not with another high glycemic index carbohydrate like glucose?

Theoretically, high glycemic index polysaccharides (like maltodextrin) make endurance athletes a better fuel than monosaccharides (like glucose) high molecular weight.

Without going into too much detail, the “ideal” type of carbohydrate during exercise is one that contains as much energy as possible in as few actual carbohydrate particles as possible, and maltodextrin is just the ticket.

This is because the percentage of carbohydrate particles from a single carbohydrate source that can be contained in a drink is limited Osmolality (the concentration of the particles dissolved in the liquid) replaces that of the blood. If it exceeds the osmolality of the blood, it can cause a net flow of water from the blood to the intestine, leading to gastrointestinal complaints.

Think about it like this:

When a sports drink is not efficiently absorbed by the intestine, the carbohydrate molecules of the sports drink sit in the intestine, where they draw water from the body into the intestine. This is a terrible experience if you exercise intensely. This is especially true for long workouts where you need to consume large amounts of carbohydrates to maintain your performance.

Monosaccharides like glucose are particularly bad in this regard because they are not efficiently absorbed by the gut during exercise. However, polysaccharides such as maltodextrin are easily absorbed and are less likely to have these negative effects.

Summary: Maltodextrin is an ideal source of carbohydrates for endurance training because it is easier to absorb and digest than other types of sugar such as glucose.

Maltodextrin and recovery after surgery

If you've ever had the bad luck of having surgery, you will know from experience that patients are usually instructed to fast completely for at least six to eight hours before surgery.

The reason for this recommendation is to reduce the risk of lung aspiration of the stomach contents, or simply the risk of food coming from your stomach into your trachea while being knocked out.

However, this prolonged Lent can negatively affect patient recovery by increasing the body's stress response to surgery.

In particular, surgery generally causes a catabolic condition with temporary insulin resistance, inflammation, and postoperative discomfort, all of which occur can get worse due to the traditional prolonged Lent before surgery.

This is where maltodextrin comes in. Something research shows that consuming maltodextrin in the hours before surgery can reduce the negative effects just listed and speed up recovery after surgery.

Now I know what you might be wondering. Why use maltodextrin and no other source of carbohydrates?

Well, there are generally two reasons why maltodextrin is used:

  1. As you learned earlier, maltodextrin is high in molecular weight, so it provides more digestible energy, limits osmolality, improves gastric emptying, and prevents gastrointestinal complaints.
  2. Maltodextrin is odorless and tasteless, which means that it can be used effectively in research without the participants being able to determine whether they are in the control or intervention group. In other words, it reduces the likelihood that the placebo effect will affect results.

Summary: Consuming maltodextrin before surgery can reduce the body's stress response to surgery, which can accelerate healing and recovery.

What is digestive resistant maltodextrin?

What is maltodextrin used for?

While you may have heard of normal maltodextrin, you may not have heard of another type of maltodextrin called digestive resistant maltodextrinor simply resistant maltodextrin.

Resistant maltodextrin is a type of resistant starch that is indigestible in the small intestine, but is still fermented by bacteria in the large intestine. This fermentation process produces useful compounds like short chain fatty acids (SCFA) like butyrate and vitamin K2.

If this description is reminiscent of fiber, you have come to the right place, as resistant maltodextrin is chemically very similar to soluble fiber.

The production resistant maltodextrin involves the hydrolysis of starch by heat and hydrochloric acid, followed by exposure of maltodextrin to a variety of enzymes (called amylases).

This process breaks the bonds that bind the sugar molecules together and creates new indigestible bonds that essentially convert maltodextrin into a type of fiber. This is followed by a refinement and spray drying process, which leads to a white, odorless and tasteless powder.

Unlike normal maltodextrin, which provides about 3.8 calories per gram, it is resistant maltodextrin offers about 2 to 2.5 calories per gram, similar to the number of calories provided by soluble fiber.

Summary: Digestion-resistant maltodextrin is a chemically modified maltodextrin that provides the body with fewer calories – 2 to 2.5 calories per gram instead of 3.8 calories per gram, to be precise.

Potential health benefits of resistant maltodextrin

Since resistant maltodextrin is very similar to fiber, it makes sense that it may offer many of the health benefits associated with fiber consumption.

In fact, resistant maltodextrin has been found to provide many physiological benefits, including improved body composition and blood sugar control.

For example, a study In 120 overweight men performed at Tongji University Medical College in China, it was found that 12 weeks of supplementation with 34 grams of resistant maltodextrin per day resulted in less hunger and less calorie intake compared to supplementation with normal maltodextrin. Not surprisingly, people who consumed resistant maltodextrin also lost more weight and body fat, and experienced greater improvements in insulin sensitivity and blood sugar control.

As a type of fiber, it is not surprising that resistant maltodextrin appears to promote digestive health, especially by relieving constipation.

More accurate, research shows that eating resistant maltodextrin can improve stool volume and consistency.

But that's not all. A recent one systematic review and meta-analysis Carried out by scientists from Matsutani Chemical Industry Co., Ltd (a modified starch manufacturer), they reported that people who consumed resistant maltodextrin had healthier and more regular bowel movements, which is a sign of overall digestive health.

Finally, some research suggests that resistant maltodextrin can have anti-inflammatory effects. This may be because fermentation of resistant maltodextrin produces butyrate, a short chain fatty acid that can help reduce intestinal permeability and inflammation.

For example in a study Conducted by scientists from the University of Tabriz, researchers gave 55 women with type 2 diabetes 10 grams of resistant maltodextrin or placebo daily for 8 weeks and measured various inflammatory markers in their blood that are usually associated with diseases such as cancer. They found that consumption of resistant maltodextrin reduced inflammation markers by 13 to 26% at the start of the study, while no significant changes were observed in the placebo group.

Summary: Some research shows that eating small amounts of digestive-resistant maltodextrin can help reduce hunger and calorie intake, as well as inflammation markers, although it's too early to say whether long-term consumption offers significant benefits.

What are the side effects of resistant maltodextrin?

Resistant maltodextrin appears to be safe and can improve most people's health, but eating too much can cause unwanted (and embarrassing) problems. Side effects.

The possible side effects of consuming too much resistant maltodextrin are:

  • Bloat and gas
  • stomach pain
  • diarrhea

There is two possible reasons for these side effects:

  1. Resistant maltodextrin is fermented in the large intestine by colon bacteria and produces gases that can cause bloating, gas and abdominal pain.
  2. Resistant maltodextrin, due to its low molecular weight, can increase the osmotic pressure in the digestive tract, draw too much water into the intestine and stimulate diarrhea.

As with almost everything, it is the same here overconsume resistant maltodextrin that you should be concerned about. There is little evidence that consuming small amounts causes any of these problems.

Summary: The main side effects of digestive resistant maltodextrin are bloating, gases, abdominal discomfort and diarrhea. However, these only occur when you consume large amounts.

What are the best alternatives to maltodextrin?

What is maltodextrin used for?

While maltodextrin generally seems safe when consumed in moderation, you may still be concerned about your maltodextrin intake.

Therefore, it is logical to buy less packaged, highly refined foods and instead prepare your own healthy recipes at home.

However, many of the recipes you will find for baking your own healthy snacks contain maltodextrin as a thickener.

Fortunately, there are a number of food thickeners that you may use instead of maltodextrin:

  • Tapioca starch, a polysaccharide obtained from the roots of the cassava plant. Tapioca starch can be used to make cakes, pies, cookies, and other baked goods, and is also used as a thickener for soups, sauces, sauces, and other liquid foods.
  • Arrow root starch, which is also a polysaccharide, which is obtained from the roots of a tropical plant – the arrow root plant. Like tapioca starch, arrowroot starch is mainly used to thicken liquid foods such as sauces and puddings.
  • Guar gum (or guar gum) made from legumes called guar beans. Guar gum is a polysaccharide with thickening and stabilizing properties that is used in many processed foods as a food additive and filler.
  • Pectin, a fiber made from fruits and vegetables. Pectin can be used as a thickener and stabilizer and is an important part of jams and jellies.

Summary: You can replace the maltodextrin required in many baking recipes with tapioca starch, arrowroot starch, guar gum and pectin.

The conclusion of maltodextrin

Maltodextrin is a polysaccharide sugar with a high glycemic index, which is made from starch and is usually in the form of a white, odorless and almost tasteless powder.

It is usually added to processed foods as a thickener and improves mouthfeel, texture and durability. Es ist häufig in vielen „gesunden“ Lebensmitteln wie Proteinriegeln, kalorienarmen Süßungsmitteln und Proteinpulvern enthalten.

Obwohl einige Menschen sich Sorgen darüber machen, wie Maltodextrin die Darmgesundheit beeinträchtigen, Karies fördern oder zu Fettleibigkeit und Typ-2-Diabetes beitragen könnte, zeigen die meisten Untersuchungen, dass es für den menschlichen Verzehr vollkommen sicher ist und wahrscheinlich keine gesundheitlichen Probleme verursacht, solange Sie es in kleinen Mengen konsumieren .

Maltodextrin ist ein Zucker, daher kann es bei übermäßigem Verzehr immer noch gesundheitliche Probleme verursachen, insbesondere anstelle von nährstoffreichen, minimal verarbeiteten Früchten, Gemüse, Vollkornprodukten, Nüssen und Samen.

Maltodextrin hat auch einige Vorteile, wie zum Beispiel:

  • Helfen Sie Sportlern, während des Trainings ohne Magenbeschwerden zu rehydrieren und zu tanken
  • Helfen Sie chirurgischen Patienten, sich schneller zu erholen, wenn sie vor einer Operation konsumiert werden

Eine andere Art von Maltodextrin, bekannt als verdauungsresistentes Maltodextrin, ist eine Art lösliche Faser, die weniger Kalorien als normales Maltodextrin enthält und die Verdauungsgesundheit verbessern kann.

Wenn Sie Ihre Maltodextrinaufnahme reduzieren möchten, sind die besten Alternativen zum Backen:

  • Tapiokastärke
  • Pfeilwurzelstärke
  • Guarkernmehl
  • Pektin

Alles in allem ist Maltodextrin wahrscheinlich keine Sorge wert. Es kommt normalerweise nur in verarbeiteten Lebensmitteln und in relativ geringen Mengen vor. Solange Sie sich hauptsächlich an nahrhafte, minimal verarbeitete Vollwertkost halten, ist es unwahrscheinlich, dass Sie genug Maltodextrin konsumieren, um gesundheitliche Probleme zu bekommen.

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