Maltodextrin is a food ingredient derived from starch commonly used as a thickener, filler, and sweetener in various processed foods. While it is generally recognised as safe by the United States Food and Drug Administration, some potential health benefits and risks are associated with its consumption.
This article provides a comprehensive review of maltodextrin’s health benefits and risks.
Health Benefits of Maltodextrin
- Quick Source of Energy: Maltodextrin is an easily digestible complex carbohydrate that provides a quick energy source. This property makes it a popular ingredient in sports drinks and energy bars.
- Increased Endurance: Maltodextrin has been shown to increase endurance during exercise, as it can help delay fatigue and maintain blood glucose levels.
- Easy to Digest: Maltodextrin is easily digested and absorbed by the body, making it a good choice for individuals with digestive issues who struggle to tolerate other carbohydrates.
Health Risks of Maltodextrin
- High Glycemic Index: Maltodextrin has a high glycemic index, which can cause a rapid spike in blood sugar levels. It is not suitable for individuals with diabetes or those who are trying to manage their blood sugar levels.
- Weight Gain: The consumption of foods that contain maltodextrin has been associated with weight gain and obesity. This may be partly due to its high glycemic index and the fact that it is a highly processed food ingredient.
- Digestive Issues: While maltodextrin is generally easy to digest, some individuals may experience digestive issues such as bloating, gas, and diarrhoea.
Maltodextrin is a widely used food ingredient that can provide a quick source of energy and endurance during exercise and is easy to digest. However, it also has potential health risks, including its high glycemic index and association with weight gain and digestive issues. As with any food ingredient, consuming maltodextrin in moderation and as part of a balanced diet is important.
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- EFSA Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition and Allergies (NDA). (2011). Scientific Opinion on the substantiation of health claims related to maltodextrins and maintenance of normal physical and cognitive function (ID 1084, 2287), “energy release” (ID 1084, 2287), and “glycaemic carbohydrates” (ID 2287) pursuant to Article 13(1) of Regulation (EC) No 1924/2006. EFSA Journal, 9(6), 2255.
- Ceriello, A., Colagiuri, S., Gerich, J., & Tuomilehto, J. (2008). Guideline for management of postmeal glucose. Nutrition, Metabolism and Cardiovascular Diseases, 18(4), S17-S33.
- Lutsey, P. L., Steffen, L. M., Stevens, J., & Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) Research Group. (2008). Dietary intake and the development of the metabolic syndrome: the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities study. Circulation, 117(6), 754-761.