Side Effects of Maltodextrin

Maltodextrin is used to thicken instant pudding.
Maltodextrin is used to thicken instant pudding. (Image: JacquesPALUT/iStock/Getty Images)

Food labels often read more like a chemistry book than a description of something edible. If you've ever read through an ingredients list, you've probably seen the word maltodextrin. This is an easily digested starch that is used as a thickener and filler in many packaged foods.

Maltodextrin Basics

Maltodextrin is an easily digestible carbohydrate that's created when corn, rice or potato starches are cooked and then broken into smaller pieces with the addition of acids or enzymes. The starch is used as a food additive because it is inexpensive and contributes bulk without changing the flavor of the food. Products that contain maltodextrin include instant pudding, canned fruit and salad dressing.

Side Effects

The primary side effect of maltodextrin is that it can affect your blood sugar, according to registered dietician Martha McKittrick. In fact, maltodextrin has double the glycemic index of sucrose, or table sugar, which means it has the potential to cause dramatic shifts in blood sugar. Unfortunately, maltodextrin is included in the total carbohydrate content on nutrition labels, so it's not possible to tell how much of the starch is in foods.

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