What Is Dextrin? | Bob's Red Mill
What Is Dextrin?

What Is Dextrin?

We come across a lot of terminology here at Bob’s Red Mill, and there are new terms coming out every single day when it comes to healthy food labeling. With the increase in awareness surrounding natural foods, as well as a rise in diagnosing some food-related intolerances, these new foods and categories can provide some confusion, especially to those who need to follow a specific diet to remain healthy and pain-free! One term that we see sometimes is dextrin, and to be completely honest, there is not a lot of information out there about dextrin that is not incredibly dense and scientific. So today, we have taken a lot of this dense information and broken it down into all the whys, hows and whats that come along with eating (or not eating!) dextrin. Keep reading to learn everything you will need to know about dextrin and whether or not it should be in your diet!

What Is Dextrin?

So first of all, we should figure out what the heck dextrin is. Actually, dextrins are a category that includes several different carbohydrate strains that are produced by the hydrolysis of starch. Okay, what? Yep, this can be pretty confusing, so we will try to break it down for you. Starches are complex carbohydrates that are made up of mostly sugar molecules. Starches are mostly found in plants, specifically many of our staple foods like potatoes, corn and rice, and are created as a source of energy. They are actually the most common form of carbohydrates found in most human diets. Hydrolysis is a process that uses water to break down molecules into smaller molecules. So basically, you take a long strain of sugars (a starch) and break it down by adding water, and the smaller resulting strains are known as dextrins. Phew, that was a lot of information! Still with us?

Types of Dextrin

Dextrins can be made from almost any starch source, like corn, wheat or potatoes. Dextrins are classified into a few different types: typically white dextrins, yellow or canary dextrins or British gums. They are all water-soluble solutions and are typically less viscous than the starch that they came from (potato or wheat, for instance). There are several different uses for dextrins. One of the most popular is in the adhesive industry. Because of their water solubility, dextrins are ideal for water-activated adhesives and glues (think postage stamps and envelopes, where you lick them to activate the adhesive properties). Dextrins are also used to print on cotton fabrics in the textile industry! White dextrins alone are used in the food industry. These are typically created by a combination of acid and water during hydrolysis.

How Are Dextrins Formed?

Dextrins are usually a byproduct or intermediate product of other processes, such as cooking or enzyme activation. The most common example of this is the crispy brown part on the top of fresh-baked bread. The exact properties of your dextrin will rely heavily on what type of starch it was formed from, so wheat dextrin, for instance, will have very different reactions and properties than corn dextrin or potato dextrin. Wheat dextrin is a popular example and is a byproduct of the process that extracts gluten proteins from wheat. The wheat starch gets sprayed with an acid solution and then it is suspended in water. After a while, the wheat starch gets roasted until it is dry, and then it has officially been converted into dextrin and is packaged and ready to go!

What Is Dextrin Used For?

We mentioned earlier that white dextrins are the only ones used in the food industry, and that is true. You may be surprised at how many foods contain dextrin when you start checking out your labels! For something you may not have heard of, this stuff is all over the supermarket shelves! Wheat dextrin is used to thicken many products in the food industry, such as soups or stews, or even baby foods! This is also a popular ingredient to replace fats in low-calorie foods, so if you start reading the labels at health food stores, you will probably start seeing this word a lot!

Wheat dextrin specifically is a great source of fiber, and more specifically, soluble fiber. There are many differences between soluble and insoluble fiber, but the basic lesson is that soluble fiber digests easily and quickly and helps attach to things like bad cholesterol on the way out, so it helps lower the bad cholesterol in your system! In short, soluble fiber is great for you! There are so many health benefits associated with a high fiber diet that we will explore in a minute. Just know that dextrin is often used as a popular fiber supplement!

Another popular use for dextrin in foods is to make foods crispy or as a coating: we mentioned the crispy brown part on the top of bread earlier, and this is a perfect example. Dextrin gives fried foods that extra-brown, crispy texture as well. We all love a good home-cooked fried chicken--give credit to dextrin for that flaky, delicious skin!

Is Dextrin Gluten Free?

We’ve talked about wheat dextrin a good bit, so it may be on your mind to ask whether dextrin is gluten-free or not. The truth is, a lot of dextrin in food is made from non-wheat sources, like tapioca, rice, or potatoes. In these cases, you will be absolutely safe from any gluten particles, so if you have a gluten intolerance or sensitivity, then you have no need to worry about these types of dextrin. Wheat dextrin, in some cases, will have the gluten processed out of it, so you should not have to worry. In some cases, however, the gluten may still remain in the dextrin in a larger quantity than is allowed. In these cases, the manufacturer is required to use the word “wheat” on their ingredients or includes list, though, so if you are gluten sensitive or have Celiac Disease, then you should not worry about dextrin on an ingredient list unless it contains the word wheat as well!

Health Benefits of Dextrin

There are several health benefits of dextrin, not only because it is a high source of soluble fiber. A high fiber diet has been linked to numerous health benefits, including weight loss, better skin health, higher bone density, and lower cholesterol. Fiber is considered a natural detoxifier, and most cancers have been linked to more toxic inner environments, so fiber has in some cases been linked to lower risk of cancers like colon and liver cancer. Fiber keeps your bowel movements regular, as well as speeding up digestion and easing the flow of everything you eat through your system - from start to...well, finish. Fiber also allows your body to absorb nutrients more smoothly and helps flush out bad things without allowing them to sit in your body for too long. If this is not enough to convince you, there are studies that show those with a high fiber diet live longer and have better general overall health than those who do not have a high fiber diet.

In addition to being an amazing source of fiber, dextrin is also considered a prebiotic. You may have heard of PRObiotics, and these feed on prebiotics, so by consuming dextrin, you are increasing the health and effectiveness of your probiotics, which assist in digestive issues and help maintain homeostasis in your stomach! Dextrins have also been shown to decrease triglyceride levels, which can increase your risk of strokes and heart disease. Consuming dextrin can help reduce the glycemic index of your meal, which helps you maintain healthy blood sugar levels - this is especially important for diabetics! Basically, consuming dextrin can help almost every system in your body to function more properly, and it helps you avoid toxification and a negative environment. If you are not sure about where to get more dextrin in your diet, try out a fiber supplement as this is a really common ingredient!

Dextrin is definitely one of the more scientifically-dense terms in the healthy eating dictionary, but it provides a myriad of health benefits to treat your body right. You may also see other words that look like dextrin on your ingredients list, such as dextrose, maltodextrin, and amylodextrin. Some of these are other names for types of dextrin, but some of these are not, so make sure you do a little research before consuming new products! If you enjoy a crispy french fry or piece of freshly baked bread then you are likely enjoying some dextrin produced during the cooking process. This will provide a ton of health benefits for you and help you with your high fiber diet if that is your goal. If you are gluten-free, then just be careful about exactly what type of dextrin you eat! And comment below with your thoughts on dextrin, and tell us what you would like us to explore more in the future.


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39 Comments

  1. Alexander Richardson
    Alexander Richardson
    Thank-you for the Education on Dextrin! Love your information sessions!
    Reply
  2. Kathleen
    Bob's Red Mill is such a great source for education and beautiful food! Thank you to all the Bob's Red Mill people - from farmers to marketing - for all you do!
    Reply
  3. Candace
    Is dextrin a sugar?
    Reply
    1. cj
      No. You may be thinking of dextrOSE, which is a sugar. Glucose and dextrose are synonyms.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glucose
      Reply
  4. Sandra
    Is citric acid used in making dextrin? I am allergic to citric acid so that's the reason for my question.
    Reply
    1. Valora
      From my research, I've found that hydrochloric acid (pH 3.0-1.0) is the 'favored' acid that's used, but sulfuric acid (pH 2.75-1.0) and orthophosphoric acid (pH 3.0-1.6) are also used. It seems that citric acid (pH 3.2-2.0) isn't quite strong enough.
      Reply
  5. ALIVE Retreats
    Super helpful article on dextrin!!
    Thank you!
    Reply
  6. Terry Evans
    Destrin has made a huge difference in my diet. I have been using it for 6 months now, and I no longer have the constipation that has plagued my entire life. As long as I keep using it faithfully, according to the directions, I feel so much better, and I am in my middle 80s.
    Reply
    1. Whitney Barnes
      Hi Terry, I don't think the destrin you're referring to is the same as dextrin.
      Reply
  7. Susan
    Maltodextrins are a class of dextrin which are problematic for some of us. Research is being done on them. Some individuals have severe reactions to any & all forms of maltodextrin. It's found that those who have a history of Irritable Bowel or other GI issues - which is a lot of folks these days - may have a tendency toward maltodextrin intolerance which includes a range of GI symptoms from severe flatulence to extreme diarrhea. Research is also being done to find out if maltodextrin is a factor in Colitis or Crohn's Disease. Other individuals are reporting migraine and an exacerbation of anxiety from maltodextrin (which I have no information on because I don't have that kind of reaction). There is more information being given now with information on maltodextrin that some individuals may be intolerant. Search for information online about "maltodextrin intolerance" or see Facebook page Maltodextrin Intolerance Awareness for a collection of articles off the internet. I have never seen maltodextrin used in any of Bob's products. Thank you for that!!!
    Reply
  8. Kat
    I get migraines from maltodextrin. Whether or not the source is posted in the ingredients doesn’t matter. I believe often times the maltodextrin is shipped in from another country and there is not a real awareness of the source. It also can be hidden in natural flavors based on my conversation with the FDA. I try very hard to eat products with only 5 all natural ingredients or less for these reasons. Or no processed food at all!
    Reply
  9. Tony Morgan
    Hi,I have been using dextrin that is the ingredient in a fiber drink that i purchased recently. It say under ingredient “dextrin”
    I was concerned because I didn’t know what this was. After reading this article I was a little more confident that it would harm me. However since I have been taking it I found that it hasn’t worked as well as some of the other fiber drinks I take. In short I have been having problems with my bowels. I’m taking two spoon fulls I the morning but that may be under the recommendation for this product. What is your thoughts on this? Thanks Tony
    Reply
    1. Whitney Barnes
      Whitney Barnes
      Hi Tony - if you have questions about dextrin in a specific product we recommend contacting that brand's customer service. They will have more specific information than we can provide.
      Reply
  10. Greg Salyer
    Where can I buy white dextrin for food use?
    Reply
    1. Whitney Barnes
      Whitney Barnes
      Hi Greg, unfortunately we do not have that information.
      Reply
  11. Rochelle
    I use Bobs Red Mill gluten free flour exclusively- I have Celiac- in my gluten free cooking & have found that taking dextrin fiber every is the solution to staying regular & therefore happy! Love your products!
    Reply
  12. Robert
    Benefiber deserves credit for saying its sole ingredient is wheat dextrin, while
    the cheaper "house brand" products at both Walmart and Walgreen's list merely
    "dextrin" as the ingredient. I suspect these two products to be the exact same
    thing, possibly coming from the same manufacturer, and differing only in the
    labeling. A commenter at another sight, however, cites the Walgreen's brand
    as consisting of "corn" dextrin, without saying how he obtained that information.
    Would you feel comfortable in sorting any of the above out for your readers?
    Reply
    1. Whitney Barnes
      Whitney Barnes
      Hi Robert - Unfortunately we don't have other brand or manufacturer's specific information. If there are brands you'd like to compare, we suggest speaking to their Customer Service teams directly.
      Reply
  13. Michelle
    Does Dextrin raise blood sugar at all? I am aware that Maltodextrin has a high GI. What is GI of dextrin?
    Reply
    1. Whitney Barnes
      Whitney Barnes
      Hi Michelle, unfortunately we do not have that information.
      Reply
  14. Linda
    Lily salted caramel chocolate listed dextrin, and I was worried that it was a sugar. On keto now and this is my new favorite chocolate bar. Thanks for the information.
    Reply
  15. Erin Jones
    Does Bob’s Red Mill use wheat dextrin in the gluten free flours? I am not celiac but I do have a wheat allergy.
    Thank you.
    Reply
    1. Sarena Shasteen
      Absolutely not. There is no wheat in any form used in our gluten free products.
      Reply
  16. Kim
    My dog has ibd (aka ibs). I just purchased a green bean treat product for her that contains Dextrin. I've tried doing research to find out if Dextrin is bad for dogs and if it can be harmful to a dog with ibd/ibs. The package ingredient doesn't say wheat, therefore, I don't know what type of Dextrin it is. The only ingredients are green beans, canola oil, Dextrin and salt (in that order). Any advice and information you can offer, I'd really appreciate it. Thanks for the info on Dextrin that I just read on your site. :-)
    Reply
    1. Whitney Barnes
      Whitney Barnes
      Hi Kim - I'd recommend contacting the dog treat manufacturer's customer service directly. They will have more information about their own ingredients and ingredient derivatives.
      Reply
  17. James Serene
    In response to Robert, June 22, 1989 and the comment about soluble dextrin, I tried CVS dextrin because it was less expensive than Benefiber. It looks the same, but it is not nearly as soluble. The CVS and other brands might work just as well, I don't know. However, I prefer the way Benefiber easily blends into most drinks and foods.
    Reply
  18. Jerry kaplan
    How/where can I buy pure wheat dextrin of the type used in Benefiber?
    Reply
  19. Rob
    Some Dextrin is made from corn and I have a corn allergy. I'm wondering what the Dextrin in Bob's Red Mill products is derived from? thank you!
    Reply
    1. Whitney Barnes
      Whitney Barnes
      Hi Rob, there is maltodextrin used in very few of our products. It is corn derived.
      Reply
  20. Beatriz Kimball
    Beatriz Kimball
    Thank you for the information. I had worried that dextrin was a form of sugar like dextrose. I have been told to avoid sugar and hydrogenated corn syrup. I am glad to have this new information.
    Reply
  21. Viv
    The research I've done says that dextrin does not help with lowering cholesterol levels because it does not contain a gel-like substance and thus cannot form a "gel-like material within the small intestine and therefore cannot bind cholesterol." Specifically, there are corroborating studies, including research from National Institutes of Health and the Cleveland Clinic. However, although this article doesn't specifically say dextrin and instead makes the general statement: "A high fiber diet has been linked to numerous health benefits, including weight loss, better skin health, higher bone density, and lower cholesterol." it still appears that you are linking dextrin to lowering cholesterol. Studies show, however, that it might not be that effective because of its lack of viscosity. I would be very interested in hearing more from Bob's Red Mill about dextrin and its impact on cholesterol, if you have any new information. Thank you.
    
    Reply
  22. Steve
    Do you sell dextrin?
    Reply
    1. Whitney Barnes
      Hi Steve - No, that is not a product we carry.
      Reply
  23. Sarah Houston
    I’ve changed to a keto diet. Will dextrin cause trouble with reaching ketosis if I use it in the form of Benefiber?
    Reply
  24. Marilyn Zannini
    Thank you. Very good information and explanations. However, I am concerned about the acids that are used to spray the starch that ends up as wheat dextrin (e.g., orthophosphoric acid which sounds extremely toxic and other acids) Can you tell me if this will harm humans & pets in the short or long run?
    Reply
  25. Tracey
    Dextrin sounds pretty good but it is sprayed with acid in production-is this not an issue? It is also part of ultra processed foodstuffs-I thought these were bad for you?
    Reply
  26. Mary
    Thank you. I take Walgreen's generic for m of Dextrin, because the others all have sugars listed. It has no taste, and works well, glad to hear it is not harmful.
    Reply
  27. Michelle
    Hello! I recently found some very old recipes from my great grandfather’s bakery and one of the ingredients listed in what I think is his donut dough is “Badex.” From what little information I could find on Badex, it seems to be a mix of dextrin and sugar that was commonly used in pasta. Any idea what this is and where I could find it (or a substitute) so I can attempt these recipes?
    Reply
    1. Whitney Barnes
      Hi Michelle - I'm sorry, we don't have any information on that.
      Reply

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