Maltodextrin: A Tasteless Sugar
Maltodextrin is a member under the big umbrella of sugar. It is a polysaccharide and is made of dextrose monomers. While maltodextrin can be synthesised artificially, it is usually derived from corn, rice, wheat and potato starch.
To obtain maltodextrin from plants, the plant starch is cooked then digested by enzymes or acids. Afterwhich, it is purified and dehydrated and the powdered maltodextrin is obtained.
Maltodextrin appears as white fine powder. Even though it is sugar, it has a neutral taste, almost flavourless. Beyond its flavourless taste, it has a glycemic index (GI) higher than table sugar. It can spike up one’s blood sugar rapidly and cause hyperglycemia. This property of maltodextrin, however, is especially useful in managing hypoglycemia in diabetic patients.
Due to maltodextrin’s tasteless nature, it is usually incorporated into food as additives without altering the taste of the food products. Maltodextrin is usually added into food as thickener and filler to increase the volume of processed food. It is also used as preservative to increase the shelf life of food products. Maltodextrin is relatively affordable due to the scale of economies, hence it is also used in cosmetic products such as lotions and hair care products, as thickener to improve the consistency of the products.