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Maltodextrin is one of the most asked about ingredients found on food packaging. It is present in about 10% of packaged food products. So what exactly is maltodextrin? And why is it used in so many food products?
Maltodextrin is a polysaccharide (type of carbohydrate) that is used as a food additive. It is produced from starches of corn, wheat, potatoes or rice through partial hydrolysis (chemical breakdown through the use of water). Maltodextrin is a white powder and, depending on its source and processing, is either almost flavorless or slightly sweet. Wheat-derived maltodextrin may contain traces of gluten, but aside from that, maltodextrin is not an allergen.
Examples of maltodextrin use:
1. In dressings such as Wishbone Light Italian Dressing, as a thickener
2. Sweeteners such as Splenda and Equal, to bulk up the sweetener which is usually just a tiny fraction of the product weight.
3. Some soft drinks.
Because of its slightly sweet taste, yet low glycemic index, people with diabetes can use maltodextrin as a sweetener.
Bottom line: Maltodextrin is a safe food additive used as a thickener and filler in processed foods.