Trick or Treat: The Truth about Brown Rice Syrup and Agave Nectar

Sugar and Spice Isn’t So Nice…

The snacking market is ripe with opportunity. Global snacking sales are higher than the total GDP of 61 countries. In today’s fast-paced world, many consumers are even blurring the lines between a snack and a meal, seeking snacks that help keep them satiated throughout the day. But despite the huge market, 62% of consumers are seeking healthy snacks that filling and provide sustenance, help them prevent/manage health problems or weight.

People are demanding more from snacks. Many “healthy” snacks are loaded with brown rice syrup and/or agave nectar, which one may think is healthy. Actually, brown rice syrup (also called rice malt) has a (glycemic index) GI higher than almost any other sweetener on the market, with a GI of 98, spiking our glucose levels rapidly, where sugar has a GI of 60-70%.

Agave nectar is another story. Once the educated public caught on to the dangers of HFCS, out came the “diabetic friendly, raw and healthy alternative” to the rescue. While it is touted as a low GI, agave “nectar” syrup is nearly all fructose which is probably the single most damaging form of sugar when used as a sweetener.

As quoted by Dr. Ingrid Kohlstadt, a fellow of the American College of Nutrition and associate faculty member at John Hopkins of Public Health, “agave syrup is almost all fructose; highly processed sugar with great marketing. Fructose interferes with healthy metabolism when (consumed) in higher doses and has been linked to non-alcoholic, fatty-liver disease and is causes insulin resistance and significantly raises triglycerides (a risk factor for heart disease). It also increases fat around the middle which puts you at a great risk for diabetes, heart disease and Metabolic Syndrome (AKA pre-diabetes) or worse diabetes symptoms even though one’s blood sugar is OK”. Furthermore, the yucca species are known to contain large quantities of saponins. While the industry touted saponins as beneficial, the truth is that they are toxic steroid derivatives, capable of disrupting red blood cells, producing vomiting and diarrhea and can cause or contribute to miscarriage by stimulating blood flow to the uterus. The manufacturing process is the same chemical processing of HFCS (High Fructose Corn Syrup) which calls for caustic acids, clarifiers, filtration chemicals in the conversion of the agave starches. Simply put, there nothing sweet or healthy about agave over organic pure sugar. How many of us bought the crafty marketing engineering? Seriously, does that sound like it’s a healthy sweetener?

And so what about sugar? Today, much of our sugar if not organic or pure cane is derived now from GMO sugar beet.

There is a lot of evidence that eating foods with a high glycemic index or high fructose content is associated with obesity and many diseases.

All of our Carla Lee’s line-up comes into the market from me serving my family, friends and nutritional minded health educators first. After creating NutYummms, the feedback was amazing and at the time, I had no idea that the raw organic coconut nectar I used is a key ingredient that differentiates us in many ways from other “healthy snacks.” As I dug deeper into the snack market, I hadn’t realized that in today’s fast-paced world, many of us are even blurring the lines between what constitutes a snack and a meal. I began to see just how many “healthy” snack labels are riddled with very unhealthy sweeteners, far more unhealthy for our bodies than organic sugar. As I was asked to speak on various media forms targeted at this subject, I was amazed to see how much sugar we are consuming—a whopping 150-170 pounds/year, mixed in everything from soups, crackers and unassuming savory dishes like grilled chicken and the likes.

More than ever in our busy lifestyles, it is important to empower yourself through education and honor your body with love and make choices for yourself and loved ones, even sweet ones, that truly feeds your body from the inside/out. The good news is you can choose healthy snacks and real food that you can also love from the outside/in.

To the journey of our highest good, always.