Maltodextrin: what it is and who should avoid it
Maltodextrin is a food additive with so many uses, it’s found in nearly everything from potato chips to beer. It’s so common, it’s even in “natural” foods and sports nutrition products.
This makes us wonder…is it safe?
What is maltodextrin?
It’s a cheap, low-calorie, almost bland white powder derived from starchy grains or vegetables like corn, potatoes, rice, cassava, or wheat. So if you’re wheat sensitive or intolerant, you may want to find out where the maltodextrin in your food comes from.
What’s maltodextrin used for?
This additive has many uses, which explains why it’s so common in packaged foods. To start, maltodextrin is used to thicken products like sports drinks and jello. It’s a filler for items like artificial sweeteners. It adds moisture to low-fat products like salad dressings. It gives texture to baked goods. And it boosts fiber content to processed foods.
Because it’s low-calorie, nearly a third of maltodextrin’s used in diet and nutrition products. Another third in snacks and candy.
It’s also popular in sports nutrition products because maltodextrin is a fast-burning carbohydrate. Athletes get more energy during workouts, then restores sugar levels in the muscles afterwards.
Is maltodextrin natural?
Maltodextrin is so processed, it’s far from natural. But you’ll find it in many products labeled “natural.” In 2012, Nature Valley was sued by the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CPSI) for marketing their granola bars as natural when they contained maltodextrin and high fructose corn syrup.
Is maltodextrin a good source of fiber?
CPSI considers highly processed maltodextrin to be “fake fiber.” CPSI Director Michael Jacobson states, “Unlike bran and other unprocessed, intact fibers, most isolated, processed fibers do a poor job of preventing constipation or lowering blood cholesterol.”
Is maltodextrin safe?
Considering where this fine, white powder is derived from, there are GMO and food allergy concerns. Another consideration is maltodextrin’s shown to worsen gut problems like Chron’s disease. Because the powder alters gut bacteria.
A recent study from the Cleveland Clinic showed maltodextrin breaks down your gut’s natural defenses against microbes. In the study, mice fed maltodextrin became more susceptible to salmonella. Another lab study showed it can promote E. coli growth.
The bottom line is maltodextrin is so common, it may be difficult to avoid completely. But if you have gut sensitivities or wheat allergies, you may want to keep an eye out for it in your foods.