Pregelatinized starches are either potato or corn starches that have been dried and cooked prior to being used in pharmaceuticals or manufactured food products. They are designed to be easily digestible.
Pregelatinized starches in pharmaceuticals are used for a variety of purposes. They can act as excipients, holding the other ingredients together, glidants, giving a pill or tablet a smoother surface for swallowing, fillers, binders, diluents, or disintegrants, helping the pill or tablet break down in to smaller pieces for easier digestion. In fact, pregelantinized starches work particularly well as disintegrants because they absorb water quickly, which aids in digestion.
In the food manufacturing industry, pregelantinized starches are added to the product during the manufacturing process. They act as food stabilizers to help increase the shelf life of a product and as thickeners to give the product a creamy consistency once reconstituted. Common pregelatinized starches used in foods are corn starch, arrowroot, and wheat flour. They do not affect the final taste of the product.
Pregelatinzed starches can also be used to directly thicken food for patients on special diets due to dysphagia. The starches can thicken many foods to the consistency of honey to aid those who have difficulty swallowing.