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Modified starch sources, health risks

Thursday, November 02, 2017 by

Modified starch is a food ingredient that is derived from starch, albeit in a more chemically altered form. People who are gluten-intolerant should watch out when purchasing this food ingredient, for there is a high possibility that modified food starch contains gluten.

Also, just because modified starch is gluten-free does not mean that it no longer has other gluten-containing ingredients. It can act as soluble or insoluble dietary fiber in the human intestine.

Starch may come from the following foods: rice, corn, potato, tapioca, and wheat, which are all starches. It can be produced by treating starch with sodium hydroxide or potassium hydroxide, adding a positive electrical charge to starch, and treating it with emulsifiers or starch ether, among others.

Starches are altered to make them more fitting for use in certain recipes. Some uses of modified starches in food products include:

  • As an emulsifier for salad dressings to keep the oils from separating;
  • As a thickener for soups;
  • To facilitate formation of hard shells on candies like jelly beans;
  • Achieving a less lumpy texture for powdered foods, such as gravy and powdered cheese sauce;
  • Helping a product to easily dissolve in cold water or milk for instant gelatinized recipes;
  • Producing foods with longer shelf lives;
  • Acting as a fat substitute for low-fat foods; and
  • Acting as a fiber supplement, for example resistant dextrin and resistant maltodextrin.

Modified starches may be found in some altered food products such as chips, instant pudding, candy, canned soups, capsules that contain some medications, cheese sauces, low-fat ice cream, microwaveable ice cream, powder coated foods, and cocoa-dusted almonds, among others.

Harmful effects that can be caused by modified starch

A person should limit their consumption of modified starch, or should altogether stop from taking it, as this food ingredient can add around 30 calories or seven grams of carbohydrates per teaspoon, while at the same time adding no nutritional value.

Also, modified starch contains genetically modified organisms (GMOs), chlorine, monosodium glutamate, and sulfuric acid, which are all harmful compounds to be included in food products.

Body systems harmed by modified starch

Modified starch is bad for the digestive system. It can cause abdominal bloating and flatulence.

Where to learn more


Modified starch is bad for the digestive system.

Modified starch can make you fat.

Modified starch is a food ingredient that is derived from starch, albeit in a more chemically altered form.

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