Polydextrose is a synthetic polymer of glucose. It is a food ingredient classified as soluble fiber by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as well as Health Canada, as of April 2013. It is frequently used to increase the dietary fiber content of food, to replace sugar, and to reduce calories and fat content.
Polydextrose is made of many dextrose (glucose) carbohydrates that randomly bond together and form a polymer. Polydextrose is produced from naturally occurring components. The 1,6-glucosidic linkage predominates in the polymer but α- and β-1,2; 1,3; 1,4 linkages are also present.
Polydextrose is a multi-purpose food ingredient used to replace sugar, fat and calories and to increase fiber content of foods; it also functions as a stabilizer, bulking agent and to help maintain the ideal moisture in a food. Polydextrose has been used as a food ingredient since the 1960’s.
Due to the complex linkage distribution in its highly branched structure, polydextrose resists digestion in the upper gastrointestinal tract and is partially fermented in the colon. Because polydextrose is not digested and only partially fermented in the gut, it has an energy value of only 1 kcal/ gram.
Polydextrose is well tolerated in the gastrointestinal tract, possibly because little gas is produced during fermentation. The Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives and the European Commission Scientific Committee for Food concluded that up to 90 g/day or 50 g as a single dose of polydextrose may be consumed without any unwanted gastrointestinal effects.
Favorable blood glucose response: helps to achieve lower blood sugar levels by fiber enrichment; prebiotic effect and satiety benefits.
Long term weight management: By replacing higher calorie ingredients, polydextrose may help reduce calorie intake.
Scientific Substantiation of Benefits
Laxation: Polydextrose consumption increases fecal bulk/weight, fecal consistency, ease of defecation, fecal frequenc and decreases transit time in healthy adults. Fecal bulking effects were shown to be effective between 8-30 g/day. The lowest effective dose was 8g/day for improvements in fecal bulk4 and fecal consistency, whereas ease of defecation and fecal frequency was enhanced with a dose as low as 4g/day.
Favorable blood glucose response: Compared to glucose which has a glycemic index of 100, polydextrose has a glycemic index of 710. According to an EFSA Panel, a cause and effect relationship has been established between the consumption of foods/drinks containing polydextrose and the reduction of post-prandial blood glucose responses as compared to sugar-containing foods/drinks. The reduction in postprandial blood glucose and insulin responses has also been observed in individuals with Type 2 diabetes.
Prebiotic effect: It is generally believed that a prebiotic should selectively increase the growth of beneficial gut bacteria, such as lactic acid bacteria and/or bifidobacteria. Polydextrose intake is associated with increased prebiotic activity.
Satiety: Polydextrose can help support weight management strategies as a replacement for higher calorie components (e.g., fat or sugars) in formulas, which enables development of lower calorie foods, given its calorie contribution is only 1 kcal/g. While additional studies are needed, findings suggest that polydextrose may also increase satiety and reduce energy intake at a subsequent meal.
Polydextrose and Resistant Dextrin
Resistant Dextrin is also another dietary fiber which has been gaining popularity in the past few years. Compared with polydextrose, resistant dextrin has more functions and a wider variety of applications.
Functions of Resistant Dextrin:
1. Reducing blood glucose
2. Regulating blood lipid
3. Promoting the growth and reproduction of gastrointestinal probiotics
4. Enhancing intestinal function
5. Controlling weight
Product Application of Resistant Dextrin:
1. Dairy products
3. Healthcare products
4. Infant food products
5. Flour products
6. Meat products