What is it?
Dextrose is a plant-based ingredient used in food, obtained from cereals (mainly maize and wheat). It is a simple sugar, belonging to the Carbohydrates family.
The human body can quickly use it as a source of energy to face peak energy needs, as it is amongst the fastest-acting sources of energy.
Food manufacturers use dextrose as a liquid or in powder form after it is dried or crystallized. Dextrose has a caloric value of 4 kcal/g (similar to all other carbohydrates).
It is produced from starch, through a process that uses water to break down complex carbohydrates into smaller molecules. In essence, enzymes are added to break down the starch molecules – long chains of bound glucose molecules – into individual glucose/dextrose molecules. The reaction is similar to the digestion mechanism in the human body when one eats food containing starch (e.g. in pasta or potatoes).
Where and Why is it used?
Dextrose has a high glycaemic index, which means it quickly increases the blood sugar levels. It is therefore an excellent source of energy.
In food, dextrose is mainly used for its energetic content and low sweetening properties – dextrose has a lower sweetening power than sucrose. Dextrose is for example often found in baking products and desserts. It is also used as a natural preservative to extend the shelf life of the product to which it is added, like in fruit jams.
Moreover, dextrose is commonly used in the medical sector, in numerous intravenous preparations. It is also used as an oral gel or tablet available over the counter in pharmacies. People suffering from diabetes can use dextrose tablets or gels to raise their blood sugar levels quickly.
Whenever used in food, dextrose is labelled as such on the product’s packaging.
Ingredients List: Dextrose
Nutritional Table: Sugars (under Carbohydrates)