Maltodextrins are a type of carbohydrates mixtures formed by partial hydrolysis of starch with safe and suitable enzymes, prepared as a white powder or concentrated solution and are classified by Dextrose Equivalent (DE). They are characterized by having low sweetness, readily digestible, highly soluble and highly hygroscopic (Ruiz & Campos, 2016).
DE represents the percentage of reducing sugar; calculated as glucose on a dry-weight basis, with glucose given the value of 100 and it is also the equivalent of the degree of polymerization of malto oligosaccharide – which is influenced by the starch source, manufacturing procedure and extend of hydrolysis. Increasing the DE of maltodextrins increases their hygroscopicity, water solubility, fluidity, osmolality, sweetness, browning reaction in food and digestibility in infants. With a wide range of starch DE polymerization less than 20, maltodextrins have a heterogeneous composition of the mixture of sugars where they exhibit the properties of emulsifiers, fillers, stabilizers, raising agents and delay the process of crystallization. Maltodextrins with DE less than 10 can be used as fat replacers in products such as ice cream (Ruiz & Campos, 2016).
Maltodextrins are a highly processed and purified ingredient that can be sourced from several different gluten-free ingredients including corn, potato, rice as well as wheat. However, starch and syrup made from maize are generally considered safe as the protein composition of maize gluten is different from that of wheat and rye (Hull, 2011). During processing, the protein will be removed, rendering the maltodextrin to be gluten free (McFarland, 2015; Arendt & Bello, 2011). This condition is significant to the glucose industry where some of glucose syrups are made from wheat. Maltodextrins can be incorporated in various food applications as fat replacer, texture modifier or bulking agent in dairy products, salad dressings, spreads, sauces, baked goods, frozen meat and frozen desserts. Wheat-based maltodextrins may contain low levels of proteins and peptides (Wiley, 2007).
Coeliac disease, also known as gluten intolerance, is a disorder of the small intestine that caused by sensitivity of the lining to the protein in gluten. This protein damages the intestinal lining which causes poor absorption of foods (Hull, 2011). Glutens trigger inflammation and intestinal damage with people with celiac disease. Celiac disease is associated with an increased risk of coronary heart disease, which is reduced after treatment with a gluten-free diet (Lebwohl et al., 2017). For coeliac disease, a new clinical study indicated that wheat-based maltodextrins are unlikely to cause an adverse reaction in individuals with coeliac disease provided that the value of gluten considered by Codex Alimentarius for food rendered gluten-free is not exceeded (EFSA, 2007).
Arendt, E. & Bello, F. D. (2011). Gluten-Free Cereal Products and Beverages. Burlington, Massachusetts: Academic Press.
EFSA. (2007). Opinion of the Scientific Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition and Allergies on a request from the Commission related to a notification from AAC on wheat-based maltodextrins pursuant to Article 6, paragraph 11 of Directive 2000/13/EC. The EFSA Journal, 5(6), 487. https://doi.org/10.2903/j.efsa.2007.487
EFSA. (2011). Scientific Opinion on the substantiation of health claims related to resistant maltodextrin and reduction of post-prandial glycaemic responses (ID 796), maintenance of normal blood LDL-cholesterol concentrations (ID 2927), maintenance of normal (fasting) blood concentrations of triglycerides (ID 2927) and changes in bowel function (ID 797) pursuant to Article 13(1) of Regulation (EC) No 1924/2006. EFSA Journal, 9(4), 2070. https://doi.org/10.2903/j.efsa.2011.2070
Hull, P. (2011). Glucose Syrups: Technology and Applications. Chichester, West Sussex: John Wiley & Sons.
Lebwohl, B., Cao, Y., Zong, G., Hu, F. B., Green, P. H. R., Neugut, A. I., Rimm, E. B., Sampson, L., Dougherty, L. W. Giovannicci, E., Willett, W. C., Sun, Q. & Chan, A. T. (2017). Long term gluten consumption in adults without celiac disease and risk of coronary heart disease: prospective cohort study. BMJ, 357, j1892. https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.j1892
McFarland, D. (2015). Putting OUT the Fire! Morrisville, North Carolina: Lulu Press, Inc.
Parimalavalli, R. (2013). Physical and Chemical Properties of Maltodextrin. The Indian Journal of Nutrition and Dietetics, 50(2).
Ruiz, J. C. R. & Campos, M. R. S. (2016). New Polymers for Encapsulation of Nutraceutical Compounds. Chichester, West Sussex: John Wiley & Sons.
Wiley. (2007). Kirk-Othmer Food and Feed Technology. Chichester, West Sussex: John Wiley & Sons.