Is Generic Brown Rice Syrup Healthy?

brown rice syrup

A sweetness of a different kind in Brown Rice Syrup

A sweetness of a different kind in Brown Rice Syrup. Whole grains are our most important and a very valuable source of carbohydrates, which, broken down to their smallest molecular units, can also be referred to as sugar. But is this sugar-sweet form of the original grain still of comparable quality? More specifically, is rice syrup healthy? Healthier than conventional sugar alternatives?

brown rice syrup

Sugar alternative Brown Rice Syrup

Originally from Japan, the sweet grain juice is made from rice grains. With a mild sweetness and a subtle nutty to caramel-like taste, it is versatile. Its yellowish to reddish or even brownish color is reminiscent of honey. However, the sweetening power of the gluten-free syrup is comparatively low, which can be explained by the sugar spectrum. Because in contrast to most other products for sweetening, we still find a considerable proportion of polysaccharides in rice syrup .

This not only lowers the sweetness a bit, but also ensures slower metabolism, which can be seen as more beneficial from a purely physiological point of view. However, one should not expect too much from this apparent advantage of  brown rice syrup, because despite the slightly slower absorption of sugar molecules into our blood, rice syrup has a relatively high glycemic index: the easily soluble grape sugar


In order to extract the full sweetness from the whole grain, the rice is first ground, the rice flour is dissolved in water and the mixture is heated. The essential process of sugar splitting takes place by adding enzymes  ; in this way, low-molecular sugar units are obtained from the complex starch, which in turn are crucial for the sweet taste. The mixture is then filtered to separate all unwanted solid components from the liquid. Finally, the juice obtained is thickened using thermal treatment to preserve the sweet essence of the original grain.

But local types of grain,  such as spelled, wheat or barley, are also suitable for the production of syrups, with the production using enzymatic and thermal treatments being similar to the production process for Brown rice syrup. They are also similar in terms of energy content and carbohydrate composition. The difference is in the gluten: while rice syrup is protein-free, celiacs should avoid wheat or spelled syrup because of residual gluten protein.

Rice syrup: advantages and disadvantages at a glance

Unlike the case with agave syrup , we only find traces of fructose in the rice syrup. This makes it particularly useful for individuals with fructose malabsorption attractive. But we can also classify the Japanese syrup into the categories gluten-free, histamine-tolerant and of course vegan. It is characterized by its proportion of multiple sugars, but plays a subordinate role in terms of health value.

Blood sugar rises to a similar level as after eating refined sugar. And since its sweetening power is lower, we tend to consume more of it, mitigating potential benefits (Petersen, 2013): Facts that make Brown rice syrup less beneficial to health. In addition, brown rice syrup in particular may possibly be contaminated with traces of the heavy metal arsenic, which applies in particular to rice imported from Asia. You don’t have to dig quite as deep into your pocket for the sugar alternative as you would when buying maple syrup , for exampleor coconut blossom sugar .

Rice syrup: ingredients

With just over 300 kcal per 100 g, it is well below the energy value of white sugar crystals (405 kcal), but is in a similar range to other sweetening alternatives (BLS).

Our most important metabolic molecule is the be-all and end-all of Japanese sweeteners: the glucose is present partly as a simple sugar in the syrup, partly as a double sugar in the form of maltose and about a third in longer chains, the so-called oligosaccharides (multiple sugars). Put simply: the glucose makes up the Brown rice syrup, while we only find traces of fructose and sucrose.

However, the grain syrup also provides us with a number of vital substances,  the most notable of which is potassium (Table 1), which makes the rice syrup look healthy.

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