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Maltodextrin In Food – Side Effects & Dangers + The Best Alternatives

Maltodextrin In Food – Side Effects & Dangers + The Best Alternatives

What Is Maltodextrin?

Maltodextrin is a complex carbohydrate, meaning that it is comprised of a long chain of simple carbs linked together. This food additive was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS).

Maltodextrin is a group of complex sugars, rather than one carbohydrate. It is produced via hydrolysis from starches, like – corn, wheat, rice, oats, tapioca, potatoes, or barley.

Chemical Formula


Glycemic Index

It has a glycemic index ranging from 85 to 105.

Is Maltodextrin Vegan?

Yes, since it is enzymatically produced from starch.

Is Maltodextrin Gluten-Free?

Because it is made from starches, this food additive is considered to be a gluten-free product, that is great news for individuals who need to remove gluten from their diets.

Note – if you eat a gluten-free diet, it is recommended to check food labels to ensure that food does not contain “wheat maltodextrin,” that means the food has gluten.

Uses of Maltodextrin 

Maltodextrin is typically used as a filler or thickener to increase the volume of processed food. It is also a preservative which increases the shelf life of packaged foods. Maltodextrin can act as a carrier agent, that protects encapsulated ingredients from oxidation.

Additionally, it is used in “light” peanut butter to reduce the fat content and to turn substances which are liquid into powders.

Maltodextrin can help in the stabilization of frozen yogurt and ice cream by increasing the freezing temperature and controlling the melting character.

Furthermore, it is used in some snacks, like – jerky and potato chips. Plus, it helps the sweeteners to maintain their crystallized shapes once they are packaged.


In the beer industry, it improves beer’s mouthfeel and reduces drink dryness.

In addition, it is added while the beer is aging to increase the specific gravity of the final product.


Maltodextrin is taken as a supplement by bodybuilders in powder form or in gel packets as a post-workout supplementation.

The post-workout period is an important time to refuel. Consuming high glycemic carbs will increase the release of insulin, a hormone which regulates the level of glucose in the blood and facilitates the influx of sugars into muscle cells.

Also, carbohydrate powder in the form of maltodextrin is safe for healthy young athletes who use it for post-exercise glycogen resynthesis, according to research issued in the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism.

Side Effects & Dangers of Maltodextrin In Food

Weight Gain

According to researchers at Purdue University, it can interfere with the body’s natural ability to judge when to stop eating.

This leads to unhealthy overeating and weight gain which creates negative health effects for diabetics and non-diabetics alike.


It may cause an allergic reaction in some people, resulting in respiratory, gastrointestinal, and skin complications.


This food additive can affect blood glucose (sugar) levels if you have type 2 diabetes mellitus, a chronic disease that is is characterized by high levels of sugar (glucose) in the blood.

Note – it is best to talk to your healthcare professional in order to plan your meals and snacks, and decide what types of foods are best for you.

Foods That Contain Maltodextrin

It is present in foods, such as:

  • sauces;
  • prepared soup products;
  • commercially baked goods, even those labeled gluten-free;
  • salad dressings;
  • milk powder;
  • chocolate;
  • potato chips;
  • canned fruit;
  • jerky;
  • nutritional drinks;
  • pudding;
  • coffee;
  • gelatin;
  • granola;
  • pie fillings;
  • drink mixes;
  • pudding;
  • sugar substitutes;
  • candy.

Healthier Substitutes for Maltodextrin

#1 Dates

Dates are full of potassium, copper, magnesium,  manganese, and vitamin B6. With 7 grams of dietary fiber in a 3.5-ounce serving, including dates in your regular nutrition is an excellent method to increase your dietary fiber intake.

Evidence shows that dates may reduce the risk of stroke and may help to reduce LDL (bad) cholesterol in the blood.

#2 Honey

Honey is packed with enzymes, potassium, calcium, iron, zinc, phosphorus, riboflavin, vitamin B6, and niacin.

Honey has potent antibacterial properties, plus, it is an excellent source of antioxidants due to its pollen content. In addition, a few studies show that honey may improve your LDL (bad) cholesterol levels.


  • the darker the honey, the higher its nutritional content, antioxidant value, and overall health benefits;
  • if you have diabetes or insulin sensitivity, you will have to use honey very sparingly since it is higher in calories than most of the other alternatives.

#3 Stevia

Stevia is a naturally sweet plant extract which has been used for many years as a healthy alternative to artificial sweeteners.

It is also a US Food and Drug Administration approved low-calorie sweetener and is 300 times sweeter than table sugar.

#4 Monk Fruit

Monk fruit is a small green melon native to southern China. It contains compounds which are natural sweeteners – 300 to 400 times sweeter than cane sugar.

Monk fruit is an excellent choice for people with type 2 diabetes since it’s a natural sweetener which won’t affect your blood glucose (sugar) levels. It is a good alternative, especially if don’t like the taste of Stevia.

#5 Tagatose

It is a sweetener based on its properties as a monosaccharide, specifically a hexose. Tagatose is very similar in texture to sucrose and is 92 percent as sweet, however, it only has 38 percent of the calories.

This sweetener is generally recognized as safe by the FAO/WHO. It is typically found in dairy products.

#6 Pectin

It is a carbohydrate that’s extracted from vegetables, fruits, and seeds.

Oranges and apples, for instance, are particularly high in pectin, with the highest concentrations in the cores, skins, and seeds. It was confined by Henri Braconnot in 1825.

This type of fibers can ease constipation and make stool soft.

Note – drink lots of fluids when taking pectin, since increasing dietary fiber intake without drinking sufficient fluids may worsen constipation.

In addition, according to a 2012 study which was issued in the “European Journal of Clinical Nutrition,” pectin may help promote healthy cholesterol levels. Also, researchers have shown that this type of fiber can kill human colon cancer cells in laboratory experiments.

It is typically used to solidify jams and jellies.

#7 Coconut Sugar

Coconut sugar is a natural alternative to sweeteners you should consider. It is also called coconut palm sugar.

Coconut sugar contains calcium, potassium, iron, zinc, short-chain fatty acids, antioxidants, polyphenols, and a type of fiber called inulin. Thanks to its content of minerals and other nutrients, coconut sugar is more expensive than other sweeteners.

Its glycemic index score and fructose content are both low.


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