Maltodextrins: what they are and when they hurt

Maltodextrins: what they are and when they hurt

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Maltodextrins: what they are and what are the health effects. They hurt? Healthier alternatives to maltodextrins and what you should know.

What are maltodextrins?

There maltodextrinit's acarbohydratecomplex that dissolves in water. It is obtained above all from the breakdown of friends contained in cereals such as corn, oats, wheat, rice ... or from tubers, such as potatoes, cassava and tapioca.

Let's try, in detail, to understand what are maltodextrins.

Maltodextrins: what they are

With the termmaltodextrina class of substances derived fromstarches. Maltodextrins are generally produced from:

  • Corn
  • Wheat

But they can also be extracted from starches obtained from:

  • Oats
  • Rice
  • Potato
  • Batata
  • Tapioca
  • Manioc

The chemical process that leads to the production of maltodextrins is called "hydrolysis". Putting chemistry aside for a moment, let's try to answer the question more simply:what are maltodextrins?

Maltodextrin is a soluble powder ingredient that the food industry uses as a "food additive". In fact, this ingredient is commonly found in processed foods.

Due to their nutritional properties (they are already processed starches, they provide energy ready for use), maltodextrins are marketed as a very popular energy supplement among those who do marathons or cycling.

Maltodextrin: are they bad?

From the paragraph "maltodestrince: what they are”One would think that this substance is completely natural. In fact, maltodextrins are produced in a highly elaborate process.

For the production of maltodextrin the raw material of vegetable origin is placed at high temperatures. Acids or enzymes such as thermostable bacterial alpha-amylase are added. The acids or enzymes further break down the starches which, once dehydrated, return thewhite powder soluble in waterthat we know.

Maltodextrins have a neutral flavor and are often marketed with the addition of flavors. From a nutritional point of view, maltodextrins can be compared tocorn syrup, with the only difference that the sugar content of the corn syrup is higher.

Maltodextrins used as a food additive are "safe for health". When they are used as a supplement they can, however, give rise to contraindications.

So are they bad?

According to dietary guidelines, ideally, a portion of 45 to 65% of the calories we ingest should be linked to carbohydrates. Always "ideally", most of these carbohydrates should come fromcomplex carbohydrates, rich in fiber and not foods that rapidly raise blood glucose levels.

Maltodextrins have aglycemic indexhigh. This means that it causes a rapid rise in blood sugar (blood glucose). This means that in thecyclingthis contribution could certainly provide energy ready for use but also represent a risk. It is recommended to consume small amounts of maltodextrin.


Those with diabetes or insulin resistance should avoid maltodextrins. Otherscontraindicationsthey are related to the nutritional regimen. If your doctor has recommended a low-sugar, low-carbohydrate diet, you should limit the use of maltodextrins or incorporate them into your total carbohydrate count during the day.

Contraindications - when should maltodestine be avoided:

  • Diabetes
  • Predisposition to diabetes (if others in the family have diabetes)
  • Insulin resistance
  • Problems with intestinal balance
  • Low immune defenses *
  • Crohn's disease
  • Digestive problems

According to a 2012 study published in PLoS ONE, maltodextrins could modify the intestinal flora by acting negatively on the immune system and making us more prone to contracting diseases.

The same study highlighted that this substance increases the growth of bacteria such as E. coli triggering the same imbalances observed inautoimmune diseasessuch as Crohn's disease.

Maltodextrin as a food additive

The food industry uses maltodextrins as a filler to increase the volume of a processed food or as a thickener in a good number of foods. This food additive is also used to increase the shelf life of packaged foods.

Where are maltodextrins found in food?

  • In artificial sweeteners
  • In canned fruit
  • Powdered drinks
  • Ready-made desserts
  • Sauces
  • Salad dressings
  • Jellies
  • Pudding
  • Other instant foods


Themaltodextrinhave a high calorie content. Each gram of product brings4 calories. To make you understand the true extent of these calories, know that each gram of sucrose (table sugar) contains the same amount of calories.

Yes, maltodextrins are as caloric as sugar. Just like sugar, your body can digest maltodextrin quickly. If you are looking tolose weight you will certainly want to avoid maltodextrins!

Cycling: maltodextrin as a supplement

Maltodextrins, as stated, are also used as an energy supplement by athletes who practice cyclingor who are intent on participating in long marathons.

The supplement is useful when the body needs calories and energy ready for use. However, remember that the glycemic index of maltodextrins is also higher than that of sucrose.

Maltodextrin: gluten

If you follow agluten-free dietyou may think that maltodextrins made from wheat may contain gluten. Nothing more wrong. Maltodextrin is an extremely refined product and does not contain gluten.

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