Have you come across brown rice syrup while checking out natural sweeteners? Are you thinking about what is brown rice syrup and how it is made?
As the name suggests, brown rice syrup is a natural sweetener obtained from cooking brown rice with enzymes. These enzymes break down the starch present in the rice into sugars and turn the brown rice water into a thick, sweet, and sticky liquid with a pale honey color.
What Is Brown Rice Syrup?
People are becoming more self-aware about the things they consume. In fact, I have many friends and family members who have cut back on sugar and moved on to healthy natural sweeteners.
Brown rice syrup, also known as rice malt syrup or rice syrup, is a type of natural sweetener made of brown rice.
The cooked brown rice is mixed with enzymes to undergo enzymatic processes and fermentation. They convert the starch in the grains into glucose or sugar.
Hence, the final product is a thick and sticky liquid with mild sweetness and nuttiness.
Composition of Brown Rice Syrup
The starch in brown rice is broken down into three types of sugars – glucose, maltose, and maltotriose. These sugars turn the brown rice syrup into a sweetening agent.
Brown rice syrup has minimal nutrients. It has trace quantities of calcium and potassium. It is also high in carbohydrates due to excessive amounts of glucose.
|Fatty acids, total saturated
|Fatty acids, total trans
|Fiber, total dietary
Uses of Brown Rice Syrup
You can use brown rice syrup with almost everything that requires sugar. For instance, you can add it to tea, coffee, baked items, pancakes, and even Asian dishes.
Certain manufacturers use brown rice syrup instead of sugar in granola bars, cereals, salad dressings, and ice cream too.
Brown Rice Syrup Vs. Honey Vs. Corn Syrup
People tend to confuse brown rice syrup, honey, and corn syrup. After all, these three natural sweeteners do the same thing and look almost the same.
Yet, there are noticeable differences between them. Let’s take a look at them.
|Brown Rice Syrup
|Extracted from cooked brown rice
|Produced by bees from nectar
|Made from corn flour
|Mild sweetness and nutty flavor
|Extremely sweet, floral, and earthy
|Mild sweetness with vanilla notes
|Thick and sticky
|Maltose, Maltotriose, and Glucose
|Glucose and Fructose
|Glucose (HFCS – High-fructose corn syrup contains fructose)
|Rich in carbohydrates. Trace amounts of potassium and calcium are present.
|Vitamins, minerals, antioxidants
|No nutrients as such
|90 – 115
Pros and Cons of Brown Rice Syrup
If you plan to use brown rice syrup as a sweetener instead of sugar, you must know its benefits and limitations.
In my opinion, the cons of brown rice syrup outweigh the pros because of its high glycemic content and arsenic concentration. You can check them to decide if the rice syrup is worth the hype!
Pros of Brown Rice Syrup
First, let’s look at the benefits of brown rice syrup and what makes it appealing to many.
- Natural Sweetener
As mentioned earlier, brown rice syrup is a natural sweetener consisting of brown rice, enzymes, and water. It doesn’t contain any harmful artificial ingredients present in artificial sweeteners, like saccharin and aspartame.
- Gluten-free and Vegan
All rice varieties, including brown rice, are gluten-free and vegan.
Brown rice syrup is also a suitable option for people wanting a gluten-free and vegan sweetener.
- No Fructose Content
We often forget that over-consumption of fructose, a type of sugar, may lead to obesity, liver complications, or even insulin resistance. The worst part is that fructose doesn’t inhibit hormones that trigger hunger, leading to overeating. No wonder my sugar cravings never go away!
Most sweeteners, especially corn syrup, have high fructose, whereas brown rice syrup has none. It doesn’t adversely affect the liver or cause overeating.
- Offers Mild Sweetness
The best thing about brown rice syrup is that it is not excessively sweet. It has a subtle sweetness, pairing well with less sugary food items.
Rice syrup is also a great option if you don’t like very sweet dishes or desserts.
Cons of Brown Rice Syrup
The benefits of brown rice syrup are several. Here are some limitations that many people, including me, have overlooked in the past.
- High Glycemic Index
The glycemic index is a value that indicates how quickly a food item can raise blood sugar levels after consumption.
I was shocked to know that brown rice syrup has a higher glycemic index (98) than table sugar (65). It also has one of the highest glycemic indexes than other sweeteners.
Therefore, it can rapidly increase blood sugar levels, making it a big no-no for people with diabetes or prediabetes.
- Arsenic Content
Brown rice syrup is made up of brown rice grains. A high concentration of arsenic is present in the two outer layers of rice, bran and germ, found in brown rice.
Although consuming brown rice syrup occasionally won’t cause any harm, repetitive use may lead to arsenic poisoning.
- Lacks Nutrients
You might be mistaken that brown rice syrup has abundant nutrients as it contains brown rice. Sadly, this is untrue.
Brown rice syrup has a lot of calories but rarely any nutrients like proteins, potassium, calcium, or vitamins. On the other hand, you will find natural sweeteners, such as honey and pure maple syrup, offering tons of nutrients.
- Not Readily Available and Hard to Prepare at Home
Finding brown rice syrup around you is difficult, as it is more common in Asian countries. The only place where I could find it was on online sites like Amazon.
There are many recipes to prepare brown rice syrup at home, but the whole process is challenging and takes up hours.
What Can I Use in Place of Brown Rice Syrup?
You can try some of its best substitutes if you can’t find brown rice syrup around you or online.
1. Maple Syrup
I love pancakes, so maple syrup is always available at my place. When I don’t have brown rice syrup, it comes to the rescue!
Maple syrup is obtained from the maple tree’s sap. It has a similar taste to brown rice syrup but lacks the unique nuttiness present in rice syrup.
I suggest melting half a tablespoon of almond butter in four tablespoons of maple syrup. This way, you get a mix of sweet and nutty flavors.
Note that maple syrup is sweeter than rice syrup, so use ¾ cup to substitute one cup of brown rice syrup.
Honey is the one ingredient that is easily available in everyone’s kitchen. It has a sweet and floral flavor and is one of the best brown rice syrup substitutes.
Apart from its taste, honey is also healthier than brown rice syrup due to the absence of cholesterol. However, honey doesn’t have an inherently nutty flavor like maple syrup. You can mix almond or peanut butter with it to make up for it.
I recommend using ¾ cup of honey to replace one cup of brown rice syrup in any dish.
Stevia is a natural ingredient with 200 to 400 times more sweetness than table sugar. You can use it instead of brown rice syrup for an identical taste. It also has no calories or carbohydrates, making it a healthy alternative to brown rice syrup.
You just need to be careful with stevia’s quantity because of its extra sweetness. Just use one drop of stevia for one cup of brown rice syrup.
Molasses isn’t easily available but is also one of the best rice syrup substitutes. It is sweet and has a slightly nutty and caramelized flavor, like rice syrup. Both have a smooth and thick texture too.
The one major limitation I noticed while substituting rice syrup with molasses was a bitter aftertaste. Use just half a cup of molasses for one cup of rice syrup.
5. Barley Malt Syrup
Barley malt syrup is a less sweet version of molasses and brown rice syrup. It is made from malted barley and so, has a lovely toasty and nutty taste.
Unlike other substitutes, you need to use more barley malt syrup to replace brown rice syrup. The best option is to add one and a half cups of barley malt syrup to substitute one cup of brown rice syrup.
6. Corn Syrup
Both corn syrup and brown rice syrup have the same level of sweetness. You can use one cup of corn syrup instead of one cup of brown rice syrup.
Corn syrup doesn’t have the nutty notes found in rice syrup. Because of this reason, the final dish may lack the required flavor.
Brown rice syrup is gaining popularity for containing no fructose and being gluten-free and vegan.
However, it also has a high glycemic index, excessive glucose, and fewer nutrients, making it a risky option. You should use brown rice syrup in moderation to avoid its risks.
Is brown rice syrup like maple syrup?
Brown rice syrup is less sweet and has a thicker consistency than maple syrup. Unlike maple syrup’s simple and sweet taste, it may also have a subtle nuttiness.
Is brown rice syrup healthy for you?
Brown rice syrup might be a better sweetener than other available options. Yet, it doesn’t add much nutritional value to dishes and increases calories and sugar.
How long does brown rice syrup last?
The shelf life of brown rice syrup depends on how you store it. Unopened brown rice syrup may last more than a year in a cool and dry taste, whereas an opened bottle lasts three to six months.
What is the difference between rice syrup and brown rice syrup?
There is no difference between rice syrup and brown rice syrup. They are used interchangeably for the same product.
Can diabetics eat rice syrup?
Rice syrup is unsuitable for people with diabetes because it has a glycemic index of 98, which is higher than table sugar. It is best to consume it in moderation.