It can be said that added sugar is the biggest killer in today's world. Research has shown that it is the biggest causal factor when it comes to the skyrocketing of lifestyle diseases. Excessive sugar consumption can literally kill you over time by predisposing you to conditions such as cancer, obesity, etc.
Just to be clear, what we are referring to is not the sugar naturally present in foods but rather the sugar that is added to foods in the form of either fructose or glucose.
Fructose is a particularly dangerous form of simple sugar. It is found naturally in fruits but there it is paired with fiber - as long as you eat the whole fruit, you should be okay, as the fiber delays the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream during digestion. It is when we overdose on fructose that we see the dangerous side-effects.
Given the research, a lot of people are now avoiding using fructose altogether and are trying to use alternatives. Rice Syrup is one such alternative and consists mainly of the simple sugar glucose. When it comes to the metabolism, blood sugar and overall health, glucose is not as damaging as fructose.
Rice Syrup 101
This derivative of brown rice is an alternative sweetener. It is made when enzymes are added to cooked rice so that the starch within it is broken down into more simple sugars. Once this process is complete, the mix is filtered and you are left with a rich syrup that looks nothing like brown rice anymore.
There are three types of sugar found in this syrup - maltose, maltotriose and a small percentage of glucose. But the thing to know here is that maltose is essentially two glucose molecules while maltotriose (as the name suggests) is three glucose molecules. So, post-digestion what your system absorbs is really just glucose.
How Nutritious is it?
Brown rice is high in nutrients but the syrup is a different story. Sometimes negligible bits of essential minerals such as potassium and calcium are found in it but in essence brown rice syrup should be considered empty calories. Your body is just being given more sugar.
Is One Sugar Better Than Another?
The debate rages on when it comes to the reasons behind why sugar is harmful. New research has found that fructose is a lot more harmful than we originally thought. Glucose can be processed by any cell in the human body. Fructose, on the other hand, has to be processed in your liver.
The body prefers glucose as a source of energy so the fructose is converted into fat. This is then either circulated in the blood stream (very dangerous) or stored in your liver (laying the groundwork for potential liver disease and causing chaos with insulin sensitivity).
Because glucose can be used by every cell, it won't have the same detrimental effect on your liver.
Rice syrup has one thing going for it then - it consists only of glucose. What it does not have is any fiber or nutritional value - Mother Nature always pairs high levels of sugar with fiber and nutrients.
Rice syrup is, therefore, slightly healthier for you than fructose based sweeteners. But...
It is the Glycemic Index that is the Problem Here
The Glycemic Index (GI) is a ranking of carbohydrates on a scale from 0 to 100 according to the extent to which they raise blood sugar levels after eating. Current research has proven that eating foods near the upper end of the scale is linked to the lifestyle diseases that are rife today.
It is the rapid flooding of the bloodstream with sugar that causes the problems. The body tries to compensate by releasing a lot of insulin. This, in turn, mops up the sugar and causes the subsequent crash in sugar levels. This, in turn, causes you to feel hungry again.
Some sources claim that rice syrup has a very low GI value - 25 to be precise. There is no grounding for this claim, however. The syrup is basically just glucose and this is the highest rated food on the GI scale. Research conducted by Sydney University has come up with a more realistic figure - 98. This is almost on par with pure glucose and paints a very different picture about the effects of the syrup on the blood sugar.
Normal sugar comes in at between 60 and 70 on the GI scale.
Is the Arsenic Content Dangerous?
We all know that arsenic is poisonous. What you may not know is that it naturally occurs in certain foods. This is true both of rice and rice syrup. Studies have been done to test the content of arsenic in rice syrup. One such study came up with shocking results. Various brands of syrup, and products that contained the syrup, were tested. The bad news is that the baby formulas that were tested had concentrations of arsenic at levels about 20 times higher than formulas that did not contain the syrup.
According to the FDA, these are not harmful levels. Considering the source, I am inclined to view this skeptically. After all, the FDA claims that corn syrup is safe as well.
Is Rice Syrup Good for You?
To date, no human trials have been conducted to monitor the effects of this syrup. Considering, however, that the GI rating of the syrup is so high, that there is really no nutritive value and that there are significant traces of arsenic, it is wise to err on the side of caution here.
Although it has no fructose in it, it still doesn't score enough health points to be considered good for you. For me personally, the potential hazards of using it far outweigh any potential benefits. With so many people trying to jump on the health bandwagon and with so many fads out there, it is important to know what is good for you. If you are wanting to improve your health, there are many natural supplements out there to help you safely. However, it is important to make sure the supplement is in fact, safe. We composed a Research Verified review and found this manufacturer to be a great option when it comes to health supplements. Their formulas are based on science and they are third-party tested for safety.