One syrup you would hardly find in my kitchen is brown rice syrup, although many adore it because of its nutty flavor and mild sweetness, it takes the back seat on my list of healthy syrups.
What is brown rice syrup?
Brown rice syrup is a sweetener derived from brown rice. It is made by cooking brown rice and exposing it to natural enzymes. Also, the brown rice breaks down after exposure and turns the starch in the rice into sugar (maltose, maltotriose, glucose). This substance is boiled and reduced into a brown light syrup.
Brown rice syrup is natural and organic. What more? It is gluten-free and contains no fructose. However, it has a high glycemic index.
Is brown rice syrup healthy?
Since brown rice syrup is organic and contains no gluten, then it could also get a pass for being healthy right? Well, not really! According to Lela Fauze, a dietitian at Northwestern University, “when brown rice syrup is compared to other regular syrup and high fructose syrup, it is not a healthier option”
Brown rice syrup is broken into simple sugar in our bodies just like other regular sugars . More so, it has a higher glycemic index of 98. This means the syrup is absorbed quickly and leads to a spike in the body’s sugar level.
Brown rice syrup sugar substitutes
A natural and healthier way to consume sugar is by consuming them in the form of natural sugars like fresh fruits rather than processed sugar. However, there are times when you may have to include sweeteners in your recipes. During these times, remember that moderation is key.
Choose from any of these carefully selected ones if you are looking to give your recipes a different taste than the usual ones you are used to. Perhaps, you just want to try other sweeteners? Pick from any of these!
Honey tops the list if you are looking for a healthy, beneficial, and nutritious substitute for brown rice syrup. Moreover, it contains minerals like zinc, potassium, calcium, phosphorus, riboflavin, magnesium, and calcium.
Quantity to use
Since honey is sweeter than brown rice syrup, then you need to use a smaller quantity. Use ¾ cup of honey.
Benefits of honey
Honey contains a high fructose level, however, it still has a low glycemic index of 19. This makes it one of the best sugar substitutes.
Honey contains antioxidants like organic acids and flavonoids. In addition, research has shown that antioxidants reduce the risk of heart attacks, stroke, and other types of cancer.
Reduces blood pressure
Honey contains antioxidants that lower blood pressure. Thus, eating honey may help in reducing blood pressure moderately and also provides more health benefits.
Xylitol is a sugar alcohol that occurs naturally in some plants. In fact, it looks and tastes like sugar but has only 40% calories and contains no fructose. Also, it has a low glycemic index of 7. This means it has a negligible effect on blood sugar.
It is a naturally occurring alcohol found in most plant materials, including many fruits and vegetables. More so, xylitol is used in chewing gum, mints, and candies that are “sugar-free”
If you are trying to lose weight, then xylitol may be the best option for you as it contains only 40% calories.
Dentists often recommend xylitol-sweetened chewing gum, and this is because studies have shown that xylitol prevents tooth decay and boosts dental health.
Improves diabetic conditions
According to the Journal of Medicinal Food, xylitol may help diabetic patients achieve more stable blood sugar levels. Also, according to the Journal of Clinical Biochemistry and Nutrition, xylitol may be beneficial in the treatment and prevention of type 2 diabetes.
Erythritol is also a very good substitute for high fructose sugar. It has a very low glycemic index, with zero impact on blood sugar, and contains no calories.
Benefits of Erythritol
Erythritol is one of my favorite healthy syrups because when taken, it is absorbed into the bloodstream before reaching the colon. It circulates in the blood for a while, until it is eventually excreted (unchanged) in the urine. About 90% of this syrup is excreted this way.
Here are some health benefits of Erythritol.
Good for diabetics
According to this study by Acta Diabetologica, Erythritol helps to improve the conditions of diabetics.
Doesn’t lead to tooth decay
Erythritol doesn’t lead to tooth decay like other sugars.
Date syrup is a thick dark brown syrup extracted from dates. It is lower in fructose when compared to other syrups. Moreover, It has a low glycemic index of 47 compared to the 68-70 of refined sugar.
Benefits of date syrup
Date fruits are chewy with a sweet flavor and they are high in some important nutrients and have a good number of health benefits.
This fruit syrup is a good source of fiber. A 3.5-ounce serving gives almost 7 grams of fiber.
Fiber helps with digestive health by preventing constipation. Likewise, it promotes good bowel movement.
Dates are high in antioxidants that offer several benefits. They are rich in flavonoids which help to reduce inflammation. Besides, research also shows that they may reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, and some types of cancer.
In addition, dates contain carotenoids, which have been proven to promote heart health.
This one is my daughter’s favorite and that’s what earned her the nickname Maple. Sometimes she likes it and other times, she is ready to run to the rooftops and scream “Don’t call me maple” at the top of her lungs. Lol.
Maple syrup has a glycemic index of 54 which makes it a better option when compared to white sugar, corn syrup, or brown rice syrup. Thus, it causes a lower rise in blood sugar when compared to brown rice syrup.
Benefits of maple syrup
Maple syrup is gotten from the sap of sugar maple, black maple, or red maple trees.
Here are some benefits:
Fights inflammatory diseases
Maple syrup nutrition supplies inflammation-reducing polyphenol antioxidants. Thus, it can be considered part of a healthy diet that helps prevent certain diseases like arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, or heart disease.
Contains vitamins and minerals
Maple syrup is rich in zinc, manganese, potassium, and calcium. Moreover, zinc helps to fight illness and improve the body’s immunity.
Manganese helps with carbohydrate meta box, blood sugar regulation, and brain function. Other benefits include skin health and proper digestion.
Molasses is made from crushed sugar cane or sugar beets. Manufacturers crush sugarcane or sugar beets to extract the juice. Next, they boil the juice to form sugar crystals, and once the crystals get removed, the thick brown syrup left is what is known as molasses.
This stage is repeated severally, resulting in different types of molasses. There are different types of molasses and they include;
This syrup is produced when the sugar cane or sugar beets get boiled for the first time. It has a light color and is used often in baking.
Dark molasses is produced during the second boil. It is darker, thicker, and less sweet when compared to light molasses. This syrup is mostly used in cooking as it gives the food a unique flavor and color.
Sulfured and unsulfured molasses
Molasses labeled “sulfured” contain added sulfur dioxide, which acts as a preservative. This prevents the molasses from spoiling.
Sulfured varieties tend to be less sweet than unsulfured varieties.
Health benefits of molasses
Molasses has a glycemic index of 55 which makes it low when compared to refined sugar. It is safe for most people if consumed in moderation.
Here are some benefits of molasses:
Promotes heart health
Molasses contain a decent amount of potassium which helps to maintain the cardiovascular system and healthy blood pressure.
Helps the bone
Molasses is rich in iron, copper, and selenium which makes them good for your bone health. Molasses syrup contains calcium.
Calcium plays a vital role in maintaining healthy bones and preventing osteoporosis.
Blackstrap molasses contains more antioxidants than honey and other natural sweeteners, including maple syrup. Antioxidants can help protect cells from the oxidative stress associated with cancer and other diseases.
Side effect: Molasses can cause digestive problems. Consuming large amounts may cause loose stools or diarrhea. People with irritable bowel syndrome or other forms of digestive discomfort may want to avoid this syrup.
Here is why too many syrups may be bad for you
Excess consumption of syrups places you at risk of certain health conditions. This means you should include them in your diet moderately. Furthermore, taking too many syrups could lead to the following.
Diabetes is a condition that impairs the body’s ability to process blood glucose. Syrups high in fructose are similar to refined sugars which could lead to Type 2 diabetes. Thus, you become diabetic when your body becomes resistant to insulin because of excess glucose in the bloodstream.
Excess sugar is bad for the body and could lead to cardiovascular problems.
Excess sugar takes a toll on the brain. It obstructs the memory and that could be detrimental over a long period.