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The Risks of Maltodextrin

Maltodextrin is an artificial sugar that has a mild, sweet taste. Maltodextrin is also known as a polysaccharide and manufacturers create this artificial sweetener by applying acids or other enzymes to cornstarch. Maltodextrin is a chain of repeating glucose molecules connected together. Maltodextrin contains D-glucose units linked in chains of variable length. Normally, these chains range from three to 19 glucose units. The dextrose equivalent scale rates the percentage of reducing sugars in a sweetener. Maltodextrin scores between three and 20 on the DE scale. A high DE value indicates more sweetness, shorter chains and high solubility.

 

Manufacturers can derive maltodextrin from any starch. In the United States, manufacturers primarily use corn, and in Europe, manufactures primarily use wheat. The term maltodextrin applies to any starch hydrolysis product containing less than 20 glucose units. For this reason, maltodextrin refers to a family of products, instead of a specific product. Wheat-derived maltodextrin may pose health concerns for individuals with celiac disease because of the gluten found in wheat-derived maltodextrin. However, in most cases, the maltodextrin production process completely removes the protein from the wheat resulting in a gluten-free wheat-derived maltodextrin.

 

Maltodextrin is not a complex carbohydrate and, therefore, does not provide the long-term energy benefits of a true complex carbohydrate. Natural complex carbohydrates contain vitamins and minerals that help your body use the carbohydrate as energy. Maltodextrin, however, does not contain vitamin and mineral nutrients. Since maltodextrin is a very large molecule, your body will use its own supply of vitamins and minerals to assimilate the maltodextrin.

 

The consumption of maltodextrin has similar side effects and health risks as most food additives. These side effects include allergic reactions, unexplained weight gain, bloating and flatulence. Specific allergic reactions associated with the use of maltodextrin include rash, asthma, itching and difficulty breathing. If you experience any allergic reaction or other side effect after consuming maltodextrin, you should discontinue use and consult with a medical professional.

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