Maltodextrin usually brings to mind a processed sugar added to packaged foods. However, another form of maltodextrin is a digestion-resistant dietary fiber that may promote gut health and prevent diabetes.
1. What are Maltodextrins?
Maltodextrin is a complex carbohydrate (polysaccharide) derived from plant sources, such as rice, potato, corn or wheat.
Maltodextrin exists in either a digestible or a digestion-resistant form.
The digestible form of maltodextrin (MD) is a good source of energy, but it can increase the risk of obesity, diabetes, and other health issues.
Resistant maltodextrin (RMD) is a dietary fiber that enhances gut health, improves digestion problems, and prevents diabetes and obesity.
2. What is Maltodextrin (Digestible)?
The digestible maltodextrin is a common ingredient in foods and the one associated with health dangers. Although maltodextrin is a plant extract, it is highly processed. This white powder is industrially produced by breaking down starch (with enzymes or acids), followed by purification. The final product is tasteless and soluble in water.
Maltodextrin is used as a food additive to:
1) Provide a cheap source of energy in sports drinks
2) Enhance texture or flavor
3) Preserve packaged or canned foods
4) Prevent ice growth in frozen foods
5) Thicken liquids similar to gelatin
6) Replace sugar or fat in low-calorie foods
It is also used as a filler or a preservative in medical or cosmetic products.
Maltodextrin has around 4 kcal/gr and a very high glycemic index, around 100.
3. What is Resistant Maltodextrin?
Unlike regular maltodextrin, digestion resistant maltodextrin can be a health-enhancing substance. It is a dietary fiber produced by a chemical process that changes the bonds between the sugars, making it impossible to digest.
You may know about Hi-Maize and raw potato starch, two other types of resistant starch. Resistant maltodextrin is another type of resistant starch.
Since resistant starch cannot be digested by the small intestine, it passes to the gut intact. Gut bacteria in the colon ferment it into vitamin K2 and beneficial short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) like butyrate. Resistant starch also helps good bacteria grow and stay balanced.
Resistant maltodextrin promotes digestion, bowel movements, and gut health. It has powerful effects on general wellness and its ingestion has been inversely linked to diabetes, heart diseases, obesity, and inflammatory conditions.
Resistant maltodextrin is a white powder with a neutral taste. It has a low glycemic index and around 2-2.5 kcal per gram.
4. Maltodextrin vs. Resistant Maltodextrin
Note: For simplicity, we’ll refer to the regular, digestible maltodextrin simply as “maltodextrin” in the rest of this article while digestion-resistant maltodextrin will be referred to as “resistant maltodextrin”.
It is clear that maltodextrin and resistant maltodextrin only sound similar. However, these two sugars are completely different when it comes to their benefits and risks.