What molecule am I?
Maltodextrin is a polysaccharide that is used primarily in foods and beverages as a thickener, sweetener, and/or stabilizer. It is a relatively short-chain polymer (some would call it an oligomer); commercial products contain an average of ≈3 to ≈17 glucose units per chain. It is manufactured by partially hydrolyzing grain starches, usually corn or wheat.
Because maltodextrin is safe, inexpensive, and extremely water-soluble, it is used widely as a food additive in a variety of products, ranging from infant formula to ice cream to salad dressing to peanut butter to beer. It is a supplemental ingredient in sweeteners such as sucralose and stevia.
Maltodextrin is not as good a sweetening agent as sucrose (common sugar), but it has as much calorie content as the equivalent amount of sugar. Obese individuals and diabetics should be aware that a food contains maltodextrin before consuming it; it is a listed ingredient on food labels.
Despite these caveats, maltodextrin consumption is increasing steadily. According to Business Wire, the market will expand by >5% annually through 2020, when global sales will reach >US$3 billion.
Learn more about this molecule from CAS, the most authoritative and comprehensive source for chemical information.