- What Is Soluble Corn Fiber?
- Resistant Maltodextrin vs. Maltodextrin
- How Is Soluble Corn Fiber Made?
- Health Benefits of Fiber
- Does SCF Have Health Benefits?
- Potential Downfalls of Soluble Corn Fiber
- What To Use Instead Of Soluble Corn Fiber
- Is Soluble Corn Fiber Keto?
Soluble corn fiber can be found in a variety of low-carb foods, but is this type of fiber something you should include in your keto diet?
Dietary fiber — found mostly in vegetables, fruit, legumes, and grains — is known for relieving constipation, normalizing bowel movements, lowering cholesterol levels, building microbiota diversity, helping you maintain a healthy weight, and promoting satiety[*].
But not all fiber is created equally, let’s dive in to see if soluble corn fiber fits into a healthy keto diet.
What Is Soluble Corn Fiber?
Soluble corn fiber is a non-digestible fiber found in many processed foods, from cookies and crackers to soups, protein bars, and salad dressings.
SCF, also known as resistant maltodextrin, is used in many packaged foods to add to the fiber content and can be used as a sugar replacement in low-carb foods.
Resistant Maltodextrin Vs. Maltodextrin
Many people confuse resistant maltodextrin with maltodextrin — and for a good reason. Both ingredients are made from corn. But resistant maltodextrin bypasses the normal digestive process and instead ferments in the large intestine.
Maltodextrin, on the other hand, can be absorbed during digestion and may cause spikes in your blood sugar that could kick you out of ketosis[*].
Another distinct difference between the two is their viscosity. While soluble corn fiber (resistant maltodextrin) is non-viscous, maltodextrin is quite viscous and can be added to foods as a thickener[*].
How Is Soluble Corn Fiber Made?
Soluble corn fiber is produced from corn starch that undergoes something called enzymatic hydrolysis.
Enzymatic hydrolysis can be thought of as chemical digestion of food, where enzymes are added to a system to break down the bonds of the food — much like what happens in your digestive tract[*].
The result of enzymatic hydrolysis is a non-digestible, low-sugar fiber, which is then filtered several times into a tasteless white powder.
The good news is, SCF is around 25 on the glycemic index, which is pretty low, compared to white table sugar, which clocks in at 100[*].
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Health Benefits of Fiber
Fiber is a crucial part of a healthy and balanced diet. Some of the benefits associated with fiber consumption include:
- Reduced insulin resistance and improved insulin response[*].
- Promotes colon health[*].
- Might boost fat burning[*].
- Improved sleep[*].
Not all fiber behaves the same in your body. In fact, there are three different types of fiber, each one playing a unique role in enhancing your health.
Soluble fiber is water-soluble. That means it creates a viscous gel in your digestive tract that moves slowly through your system. Soluble fiber can improve blood glucose control, which can reduce heart disease and improve cholesterol levels.
Insoluble fiber doesn’t dissolve in water and makes your stools softer and more comfortable to pass. It can also improve your insulin response and is associated with lower cholesterol.
Also known as resistant starches, these can be soluble or insoluble. Prebiotics also pass through your system undigested, but they stay in your large intestine and ferment, creating a more diverse gut microbiome.
Does SCF Have Health Benefits?
Soluble corn fiber acts as both a prebiotic fiber as well as a soluble fiber in your digestive tract. This has led researchers to uncover a few compelling health benefits associated with the consumptions of SCF, including:
#1 May Promote Heart Health
A crossover study conducted on older healthy adults found that, when combined with probiotics, soluble corn fiber can help reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases[*].
#2 Doesn’t Spike Blood Sugar
Due to the low glycemic response of soluble corn fiber, this ingredient won’t spike your blood sugar. In fact, research shows that most (if not all) soluble corn fiber moves through your digestion absorbed[*].
#3 Promotes Healthy Gut Bacteria
It acts as a prebiotic, which can help increase beneficial gut bacteria in your large intestine. As a prebiotic, SCF feeds your gut microbiota, enhancing the diversity of good bacteria like Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium, and Clostridiaceae[*][*].
#4 May Increase Bone Calcium Retention
One study conducted in postmenopausal women showed an increase in bone calcium retention after supplementing with SCF. This is likely due to an increase in beneficial bacteria, which is associated with better calcium absorption[*].
Potential Downfalls of Soluble Corn Fiber
Soluble corn fiber won’t necessarily kick you out of ketosis, but it does come with a few potential downfalls worth noting.
Genetic Modification (GMOs)
By far, the most concerning health implication of soluble corn fiber is the fact that it’s most likely genetically modified. In fact, The Center for Food Safety estimates that 92% of the corn grown in the United States currently is GMO[*].
The health implications of genetically modified food is a hot debate, but (unfortunately), there’s not a ton of evidence that supports either side of the argument. We do know that modifying crops to handle more and stronger pesticides means more toxic residue in our food supply.
We also know that genetic modification produces foods that never would have been produced in nature. And that leaves us with questions about how they will affect human health long-term[*].
Fiber, when consumed in excess, can cause a range of digestive disturbances. These include flatulence, bloating, diarrhea, and constipation. This is particularly true for fiber that is highly processed like soluble corn fiber[*].
What To Use Instead Of Soluble Corn Fiber
With all the benefits of fiber and even some that are specific to SCF, you may be wondering how you can reap the benefits without consuming this highly processed ingredient. Here are some options, depending on what you’re looking for:
- If you’re concerned about your fiber intake and digestive health, stick to natural fiber sources (listed below).
- To balance blood sugar, make sure you’re in ketosis and get your energy from healthy sources of fatty acids.
- If you’re concerned about calcium absorption and bone health, opt for natural sources of prebiotic foods and consider adding more calcium-rich foods to your diet like grass-fed dairy products and leafy greens.
- Choose keto-friendly sweeteners such as stevia or monk fruit.
Natural Sources of FIber
If you want fiber, opt for more natural sources like vegetables and a small amount of low-sugar fruits.
Other keto-friendly foods with high-fiber content include:
- Coconut meat
Is Soluble Corn Fiber Keto?
As mentioned above, soluble corn fiber probably won’t kick you out of ketosis. Therefore, it’s technically keto. However, just because a food ingredient won’t kick you out of ketosis doesn’t mean it should be included in a healthy keto diet.
Many low-carb processed foods use soluble corn fiber as a way to increase fiber content and replace sweeteners in their products. Always be sure to check your labels when purchasing keto snacks and low-carb processed foods.
Most soluble corn fiber is likely genetically modified, so always opt for whole-food fiber sources or non-GMO fiber alternatives.
If you do decide to consume SCF, however, be sure to check your ketone levels after you consume it. Everyone’s body is different, and while this fiber source shouldn’t cause a spike in blood sugar, you can never be too cautious.
To learn more about digestion, fiber, and keto, consider reading these articles:
- Fixing Your Gut Health and the Truth About Fiber and Bacteria
- 7 Health Benefits of Acacia Fiber
- The Best High-Fiber Foods for a Keto Diet