What is Maltodextrin?
Maltodextrin is a polysaccharide or literally interpreted, many sugars. When individual sugar molecules are hooked together, they form polysaccharides. In other words, maltodextrin is a starch, like cornstarch. Almost all the native protein of the plant source is removed in the production process leaving only the starch. Maltodextrin is easily digested and therefore has a high glycemic index.
Is Maltodextrin Gluten Free?
The short answer is yes. Although maltodextrin can be produced from any high starch plant, it is predominately derived from corn, followed by potato and rice in the U.S. In non-GMO products, it is most often sourced from potato starch. Maltodextrin from wheat starch (common in Europe) must either be labeled showing a wheat allergen or have the disclaimer “processed to remove gluten” as per FDA labeling guidelines.
Why is Maltodextrin an Ingredient in So Many Foods?
Maltodextrin is a common food ingredient because it is versatile in function, neutral tasting, and inexpensive. Here are a few of the uses of maltodextrin:
- Improves texture and adds body to food and beverages i.e. improves mouthfeel of beer
- Thickens foods
- Dilutes sweeteners (sugar substitutes are often so concentrated that they are nmeasurable for consumers without a filler)
- Increases shelf life and solubility of powdered flavors
- Used as a filler and stabilizer in pills
- Provides a quick energy source in sports drinks
- Replaces fat by adding thickness to food
Should I Worry About Maltodextrin in Food?
Although maltodextrin has little to add to food in the way of nutrition, it does not contain gluten and adds many other functional niceties to foods like pleasant texture. Since it is a starch, its levels show up indirectly in the carbohydrate section of the nutrition panel on food. Any concerns about the levels can be assessed through the label.
Vivian’s Live Again is committed to keeping you gluten free with great tasting food and helpful education. All our products are produced in a dedicated gluten-free facility. We also test all our ingredients for gluten as an added measure of protection for our consumers.