Wednesday, December 7, 2011

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.
 

26 comments:

  1. Great Post. SUGAR is an issue and it is so addictive to so many people. Your article has inspired me to AVOID sugar. I love Stevia as well.
    What do you think of the Sweet Leaf Stevia drops?

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  2. Cara, Sweet Leaf Stevia drops are great! Very versatile.

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  3. I just found your blog for two reasons. 1. I'm on a sugar free diet and needed encouragement (going very well so far and I'm not suffering, but sometimes I wonder if sugar is 'really' so bad)and 2. I sell stevia (the intense, unadulaterated powder version) and are getting increasing requests for more 'user friendly' stevia products - like the ones mixed with erythritol and fibres. We will probably formulate one, just to be competitive, but I wish people would just experiment with the non-diluted stevia. It can work! Most people simply use too much and get a nasty aftertaste.

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    1. Sara, Yes, stevia alone is more healthy than combined but the taste-buds of Americans are mutated so in order to make it customer friendly, it is being mixed with sugar alcohols.

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    2. Same problem here in NZ. The thing with stevia is that it will never give you that super sweet 'kick' that people love with sugary things.

      I'm thinking for our consumer friendly 'baking' version.. erythritol and acacia gum. Maltodextrin isn't great, but it is dirt cheap (about $0.50c / kg), which should give you an idea how much profit someone can make on a pot of stuff that is 99% Maltodextrin.

      I'll keep checking your blog. Lots of great stuff here. :D

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    3. Thanks for connecting! Stay tuned for more health info.

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  4. I recently bought a bag of Stevia to replace the use of Splenda in our home. I had heard so many people talking about it being one of the best substitutes for sugar. However, yesterday I became aware that my bag of Stevia contains Maltodextrin. I am a little disappointed as we have been trying to make the best choices for our family and a huge nutritional turn for our son who has been diagnosed with learning and behavioral disabilities. It seems like I take two steps forward and one step back. I suppose any changes I have made are good but when trying to find the purest of the pure ingredients, seeing that there is maltodextrin in a highly recommended product is disheartening. Any suggestions? This bag says Stevia in the Raw. Thanks so much!

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    1. I prefer liquid flavored stevia by sweet leaf, very versatile and clean.

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  5. Quick questions. Do you know if Stevia and Maltodextrin have any conflicts or side effects when mixed together. Am doing a triathlon where my source of calories mainly contains Maltodextrin and my electrolyte tablets are sweetened with Stevia so I want to make sure the two mix OK in the body and don't cause gastric upset.

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    1. Stevia and maltodextrin should have no conflicting effects if mixed together.

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  6. What do you think about NuNaturals stevia? I buy the powder packets because I travel a lot but have been concerned with how much I'm using per day. Because of the maltodextrin I'm thinking it could be impacting my difficulty to lose a few pounds of bodyfat. Thoughts? NuNaturals has an alcohol free liquid stevia. Is that better and oK? I think I like the taste of that liquid better than Sweet Leaf (which I just bought a few days ago to try)

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    1. I prefer the liquid stevia and would reduce consumption of the other with maltodextrin. I have seen Nu naturals in the stores but have not tried it myself.

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  7. Hi...
    What do you think about Stevia / Erythritol (Truvia) and Splenda (maltodextrin)? Which one is the best? Im doing Atkins diet...
    Thanks in advance...

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  8. Hello. You said in your article that "Sugar alcohols in moderation such as erythritol have little to no negative effect on the body.". I have been using protein shakes such as Muscle Milk that contain malodextrin. What negative effect does maltodextrin have on the body?

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    1. Maltodextrin is not a sugar replacement, it is a food additive with a chemical structure similar to sugar. In the US it is typically derived from corn. It is mostly used to affect the taste or texture of a food item.

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  9. The stevia I use has rice maltodextrin. is this better than if it comes from corn?

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  10. Can you clarify...that Stevia has no calories...and has the highest density of sweetness per calorie?

    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.

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  11. I drink green decaf tea every day. How much is too much liquid flavored stevia by sweet leaf each day?

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    1. Generally people use liquid flavored stevia to taste, it is extremely sweet and 1 drop goes a long way. I usually only use 2-3 drops in my tea, my husband uses 5 in his. If you over use it you ruin your tea and it tastes like someone melted a marshmallow in it.

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  12. I am on the allergen elimination diet to determine what I'm allergic to. Corn, barley, wheat, rye are not allowed. So does that make Stevia in the Raw with its maltodextrin and dextrin in Splenda another thing I can't have?

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    1. If you are on an elimination diet then you should check the source of maltodextrin that is in stevia in the raw and in Splenda and see where it comes from. If it comes from corn then it is a no go.

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  13. I am growing Stevia in my Vegie patch. Any advice/links/recipes on how to make it into something I can bake with?

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    1. You would need to dry the leaves and pulverize them. Then you could add them to recipes or tea. You will need to research the appropriate measurements for using fresh dried leaves in baking. Thanks for the comment!

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  14. Hello
    This is my first time in your comment section. I really enjoy reading questions and comments from other people very informative. My questions is: Does maltodextrin has a negative impact in weight loss. I' am 50 years old I have always been involved in exercise. However for the past two years I have not exercise as before but I am getting again into it. I am struggling with my weight. Although I just drink coffee in the morning I do put 5 packets of splenda. Any suggestions? Thank you in Advance!!!

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    1. maltodextrin may interfere with your ability to lose weight it depends on your metabolism, and how much you are consuming. Around menopausal age most women have trouble losing weight and exercise alone won't do it. Food is a big player. I would move away from splenda and transition to stevia. Less chemicals and fillers.

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Dr. Purcell received her Doctorate of Naturopathic Medicine from Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine and her  B.S. in Environmental Science from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. Dr. Purcell is licensed as a primary care physician who specializes in Natural and Alternative Medicine in the states of California and Arizona. She can effectively wean patients down off medications when they are no longer needed. As a metabolic anti-aging specialist and a nutrition expert, Dr. Purcell understands the role of nutrition, hormones and health.

Dr. Purcell is a certified practitioner of the Blood-type diet, the Wiley Protocol, Oxygen Therapy, and  is a certified practitioner of Wilsons Temperature Syndrome Thyroid Protocol. It is common to see women struggle with a thyroid problem for years that has been misdiagnosed. In fact, low thyroid function is one of the main contributors to weight gain and fatigue. Women will complain of "just not feeling right" yet they have not been able to find an answer ... until now.

Dr. Purcell specializes in natural medicine for Women and their families. The scope of her practice includes: Women’s health, weight management, hormone balancing, hormone replacement therapy, detoxification, halting and reversing chronic disease, anti-aging and preventative medicine. Member Of The Following Medical Associations