Our writer, Joann DiFabio-Klinkner is all about building awareness of what makes up the food we eat. Are you someone who accepts the unhealthy additives which go into the products we eat, or do you choose to read and understand the nutrition labels on these products? Joann educates us on ingredients and nutrition information so we can easily remember what is harmful to our bodies and what is not. What we eat can, in the short term, affect our mood and our energy, and in the longer term can have a major affect on our health.
You may have seen maltodextrin pop up on nutrition labels for products such as pudding cups, soda, salad dressing, or candy. This is no surprise, as maltodextrin is considered a polysaccharide derived from starch. This also means that it is an alternative sweetener to fructose and sucrose, both of which have been designated as bad artificial sweeteners. But is maltodextrin really any better than fructose or sucrose?
Dextrins are carbohydrates derived from starch. Maltodextrin is typically made from rice, potato, or corn starch. It is heated through a process called hydrolysis, during which natural enzymes also help break down the starch even further. It is typically sweet, or has no flavor, and maltodextrin is very low in calories. One gram has only four calories, which is why it is a popular additive in many diet foods.
Because maltodextrin is considered a carbohydrate (part of the family of dextrins), it is also found in many energy drinks and weight gaining supplements for body builders. It is easily digested by the body, so it provides the energy that carbohydrates typically supply to the body, but without the high calories.
It can be argued that maltodextrin is safe because it is derived from natural sources. Its origin from potatoes, rice, or corn does make maltodextrin easier for the body to digest, in its solo form. However, maltodextrin is often not the only processed sweetener found in certain food products. It is the base ingredient for many artificial sweeteners, combined with other more harmful ingredients, such a sucralose. If you’re going to buy products with maltodextrin on the label, just be sure it’s the only artificial sweetener on the list.