Tag Archives: high fructose corn syrup

Brown Rice Syrup

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.

Brown Rice Syrup

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 ΒΌ 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!

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Fructose vs glucose

There is always somebody talking about how bad high fructose corn syrup is these days. As a general rule, I haven’t taken a very strong opinion about high fructose corn syrup. It’s a form of sugar, which we should only eat in moderation. And many of the foods with large amounts of high fructose corn syrup are not really considered a health food, such as regular soda.

However, I read about an interesting study comparing the effects of eating fructose compared with glucose on the brain. In this study, they looked at blood flow to the brain after participants consumed fructose or glucose and were then shown pictures of high calorie foods. Participants were also offered either a high-calorie food right now or money later after the brain images were taken. When eating fructose compared to glucose, the participants had greater responses in their brains to the pictures of foods and were more likely to choose food over money, which could indicate hunger.

Take away? Fructose isn’t as satisfying as glucose. However, we don’t eat straight glucose or fructose in our daily life. Regular sugar is 50/50 fructose and glucose. High fructose corn syrup can contain up to 55% fructose, so not a huge difference.

Bottom line, taking in extra sugars in any form is just extra calories. If there is extra fructose, you may be more hungry afterwards than if it contained regular sugar. Keeping all sweets in check is the way to go.

Have any nutrition questions? Need help with meal planning or a special dietary need? Send your questions to me at kimberlykmarsh(at)gmail(dot)com, and I will answer them in upcoming posts!

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