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Popular Food Ingredient Maltodextrin Explained

What Exactly Is Maltodextrin?

You know I love my Cascadian Farm Oats & Honey Granola. I trust this company, and know the food is organic, but what's with the maltodextrin in the list of ingredients? It doesn't sound very natural, so what is it?

If you're curious to know then

Maltodextrin is an easily digestible carbohydrate made from rice, corn, or potato starch. It's a white powder used in a whole array of products from canned fruits to granola, as a thickener or a filler since it's fairly inexpensive. Also used in pharmaceuticals as a binding agent, it is also found in sugar substitutes like Splenda.

This food additive is made by cooking down the starch, and then acid and/or enzymes break the starch down even further, kind of like what the body does to digest carbohydrates. It's usually used in small amounts, so it doesn't have a significant impact in terms of amount of protein, fat, carbohydrate, or fiber. Every gram of maltodextrin contains only 4 calories, which is not really a significant caloric load. Although maltodextrin is processed and is not the healthiest thing on the planet, at least now we know that it's made from real food and not some nasty chemicals.

Fit's Tip: Celiacs beware! In the US, the FDA requires that maltodextrin be derived from corn or potato starch (so it's gluten free), but elsewhere it can be derived from barley or wheat. So it's always good to contact food companies directly just to make sure.

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