I’m back! At least partly. My computer issues are 75% resolved. Unfortunately, the 25% not resolved is any photos for recipes, so that may be a little bit in coming. But, we are making progress.
Also, on the news front, I know have an Instagram account for the site. My user is foodforthoughtrd. I’ll post there whenever I post here on the site, as well as other things from time to time. Check it out if that is how you monitor social media.
Now for today’s topic: brown rice syrup. I’ve seen this popping up on some of my snack food labels more frequently lately. Especially on snacks that like to list that their ingredients are “non-GMO”, etc. I’m assuming this is to alleviate the souls of those who hate the dreaded high fructose corn syrup in their foods. But my question: is this really a better alternative, or just the food industry pandering to people’s fears?
First step, find out facts about brown rice syrup. Brown rice syrup is a “nutritive sweetener” made from using enzymes on the starches in cooked brown rice and then cooking it until it becomes a syrup. Don’t let the term nutritive fool you to think it is nutritious. That just means it has calories, versus a nonnutritive sweetener such as aspartame. It is basically a sweetener made entirely out of glucose. It has some other compounds which are just two or three glucose molecules put together.
It may have some trace minerals in it, including arsenic. This can be a concern for it being toxic. I could not find good data on the arsenic levels of brown rice syrup, to be honest. So, you may want to be cautious.
How does it compare to other sweeteners? It is less sweet than regular sugar, which makes it also less sweet than high fructose corn syrup. Most online sources suggested using 1 ¼ cups brown rice syrup in place of 1 cup of sugar. Without using more, brown rice syrup already packs a higher calorie punch at 75 calories per tablespoon versus 42 calories per tablespoon regular sugar. Both seem negative attributes to me.
Brown rice syrup also has a higher glycemic index than regular sugar or high fructose corn syrup. This shouldn’t be surprising, since it is made up mostly of glucose, which is what the glycemic index compares foods to. But for those with diabetes, this is a bit concerning.
What’s the take home? You aren’t getting something better by subbing brown rice sugar for high fructose corn syrup or regular sugar. That doesn’t mean I think you should consume large quantities of either of those sweeteners. Really, the final breakdown is that same as always: eat more whole, unprocessed foods. Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, beans, low fat dairy, etc. Eating any added sugar isn’t great. There isn’t a magic sugar that will make it ok.
Let me know if you’ve seen this ingredient lately or if you have any thoughts! And don’t forget to check me out on Instagram!