When grabbing a healthy, sugar-free snack from the fridge before dinner, you expect it to help keep your blood sugar levels under control. If so, imagine the frustration that comes with seeing those levels rise suddenly despite doing the right thing.
Or did you?
Many diabetics inadvertently cause sugar spikes by eating foods that contain maltodextrin. This is an interesting ingredient found in lots of products on your supermarket shelves, even low-sugar and sugar-free items.
What Is Maltodextrin?
This is a processed form of starch derived from corn, potatoes, rice, or even wheat. It is cooked and partially broken down with enzymes, which makes it easy for the body to digest. Manufacturers use maltodextrin in foods because it’s water-soluble, has a very mild or neutral taste, thickens foods, improves texture, and prevents clumping.
So, what’s the danger?
Since this ingredient digests very quickly, it spikes blood sugars fast. It can even be digested faster than table sugar by the body. The glycemic index of maltodextrin is between 106 and 136. Thankfully, it is usually used in small amounts in most products.
Foods Containing Maltodextrin
You’ll find this thickener in a lot of sauces, dressings, and soups. It is also present in foods, such as:
- potato chips
- drink mixes
It is also found in energy drinks and health bars. Food labels won’t always detail how much maltodextrin is in food, but you can get an idea by looking at the ingredients list. Legally, manufacturers have to list ingredients in order from most to least amount present. Foods with larger quantities of this processed starch will have it closer to the top of the ingredients list.
Should You Ban All Maltodextrin From Your Diet?
Probably not. However, people who eat a lot of items containing maltodextrin may see unexplained rises in their glucose levels and A1C. If this is the case, consider cutting back on these foods to see if there is a corresponding decrease in your levels.References