What’s the Deal with Maltodextrin?
There has been some discussion out there in the food world that maltodextrin and maltodextrin fiber are better than sugar and healthier than stevia. I wanted to clarify some of this misinformation.
In a discussion, when someone says that this sugar substitute is “better” I always like to know what their reference point is. Many items can be better for baking ease but that doesn’t mean that they are healthier for us. When I am discussing something, my reference point is health.
FACT: There is no sugar substitute healthier than pure unadulterated stevia.
Stevia rebaudiana has no calories, little to no effect on blood sugar levels, and is safe for human consumption. This is the safest sweetener, the least processed, and has a highest density of sweetness per calorie.
Lately, stevia has been paired with many different kinds of real and artificial sugars to make it more marketable and appealing to the general public.
An example of this is Zevia – the stevia soda, combined with the sugar alcohol, erythritol. Erythritol is processed and less desirable than natural forms of sugar but is a better choice than artificial sweeteners and with it’s low calorie status, is safe for moderate consumption.
Maltodextrin is a partially hydrolyzed starch frequently used as a bulking agent in sugar substitutes. It is metabolized in the body like a sugar. Maltodextrin is usually made from rice, corn, or potato starch, and is produced by cooking down the starch. This makes it a processed food. Most maltodextrin is cooked down from corn, which is a genetically modified food.
Maltodextrin has a sweet taste and is considered to contain fewer calories than sugar. The sweet taste of maltodextrin makes it a closer approximation to the taste of sugar, which makes it ideal for food companies to use in sweetening teas, coffee, and powdered soft drinks. It can also be found in the ingredient list as a thickening agent in a number of sauces and salad dressings.
Manufacturers have started using resistant starch and soluble fiber derived from corn as filling agents in an attempt to produce lower calorie products. Resistant starch is starch that is not digested in the small intestine and is considered a different type of dietary fiber, as it can deliver some of the bulking benefits of insoluble fiber and some of the benefits of soluble fiber.
The result is the combination of the sweet taste of maltodextrin together with fiber which in theory should lower the blood sugar response in the body.
Note from Dr. P:
The Bottom line on Sugar: Sugar is the one component in our diets that hands down is the worst thing we can ingest. (Except for artificial chemicals, but I’m not discussing that topic right now) Sugar is worse than fat and salt put together. Sugar should be consumed in strict moderation. Sugar in any form is toxic to our bodies. If you are interested in feeling as young as possible and reducing inflammation in your body, limiting sugar is the key to your success. Frequently eating sugar will desensitize you to what is sweet and you will require more to get the same level of satisfaction. Here are some rules of thumb.
1) Limit all sugar
2) Choose stevia first
3) Sugar alcohols in moderation such as erythritol have little to no negative effect on the body.