While perusing the ingredient list of your favorite organic energy bar, cereal or cookie, you may notice "organic brown rice syrup." This ingredient is often used in lieu of the ubiquitous and much maligned high-fructose corn syrup. It's slightly less sweet than cane sugar and has a nutty back taste. Organic brown rice syrup is still a highly refined sweetener, though, made by treating whole-grain rice with enzymes to reduce the starch into a syrupy sugar.
It's Still Sugar
The presence of "organic" and "brown rice" in its name makes organic brown rice syrup sound like a positive addition to your diet. The syrup requires a lot of processing, though, which concentrates the sugars and the calories. One tablespoon of the syrup has 55 to 75 calories, while sugar has 48 calories per tablespoon. The sugars in the syrup cause your blood sugar to spike wildly, just like any other refined sugar. Consuming too much sugar, in the form of organic brown rice syrup or high-fructose corn syrup or table sugar, puts you at risk for weight gain and heart disease.
Organic brown rice syrup offers up a side of arsenic with its syrupy sweetness, revealed a 2012 study published in "Environmental Health Perspectives." Arsenic is an established carcinogen. Although it's unlikely the average person will be adversely affected by occasionally consuming a product containing organic brown rice syrup, endurance athletes -- who consume a lot of bars and gels sweetened with the syrup -- and children may be at risk for overexposure.
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