THE HEALTHIEST SWEETENERs: BROWN RICE SYRUP, STEVIA & AGAVE NECTAR

brown rice syrup

Brown Rice Syrup

Brown rice syrup (BRS) is a commonly used ingredient in the macrobiotic community. It is derived from brown rice and is a vegan and gluten-free liquid sweetener that can be used instead of refined sugar when baking and cooking to sweeten foods with few calories. Vegans prefer brown rice syrup to refined sugar, since it is sometimes refined using bone char from animals. With a sticky, gooey consistency similar to honey, brown rice syrup tastes very sweet, but has a much more mellow flavor than other sweeteners, such as honey and agave nectar

Is brown rice syrup healthy?

Brown rice syrup (BRS) contains a few trace minerals, including vitamin B, thiamine, niacin, vitamin B6, vitamin K, magnesium, manganese, and zinc, but that far from makes it healthy. BRS is highly refined and concentrated, making it a source of calories and carbs. Because BRS is a complex carb, it raises your blood sugar, but doesn’t make you crash the way other sweeteners do. As far as sweeteners go, it is all-natural, nearly always organic and one of the healthier sugar substitutes available, with the exception of stevia.  That said, it is still a sweetener, and not a health food, so you shouldn’t go out of your way to eat it, but when you need a sweetener, it is a good choice compared to refined white sugar.

Recently, American researchers claim they’ve found higher levels of inorganic arsenic in commercial infant formula, cereal and energy bars sweetened with organic brown rice syrup than products without the syrup. Arsenic is considered toxic (long-term exposure to extremely high levels of inorganic arsenic can increase the risk of lung, liver and bladder cancer) and potentially carcinogenic, although it was used in medicine in the 19th and 20th centuries. Rice is among the plants that are efficient in taking up arsenic from the soil and unfortunately there are currently no regulations which apply to the amount of permissible arsenic in food. Although it is unclear how much of a threat BRS poses as a result of these findings, moderation is the key to ensuring you do not heighten your risk of adverse outcomes associated with consuming anything. For more info

stevia

Stevia

Stevia is an all natural zero calorie sweetener which appears to be safe. Stevia is a sweetleaf herb, a relative of the sunflower. Although it appears to be a new trend, the use of stevia is not new. Tribes in Brazil and Paraguay sweeten yerba mate with sweetleaf and attribute medicinal properties to the herb. Japan has cultivated sweetleaf since the 1970’s when the advent of artificial sweeteners created demand for low-calorie sugar substitutes. Stevia is high in chromium and has no effect on blood sugar levels, so it’s the perfect option for diabetics and people who are attempting to lose fat.

agave

Agave Nectar

Agave is the famous main ingredient in Tequila. It’s made from the blue agave plant, which takes eight to 10 years to mature, and can only be harvested once, thus, it is not a very sustainable method. But agave is also a sweetener. It’s a bit thinner than honey and doesn’t spike blood sugar in the same way that honey can. You can substitute agave in recipes where you would use honey like barbecue sauces. Agave can be made environmentally organic methods, but it isn’t always that way so make sure you read the labels to ensure a more pure and healthy product for consumption.

 

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