This article refers to Pure Harvest Rice Malt Syrup – TNN’s recommended brand.
Pure Harvest is located in Drouin, in the Gippsland area of regional Victoria. They are one of Australia’s largest manufacturers and distributors of natural and organic food and pride themselves on unadulterated chemical-free products. You can read their mission statement here.
As a company, they are constantly striving for new and better ways to minimise their environmental impact. Their aim is for efficient use of energy, raw materials, water and packaging. This is continually monitored through their Environmental Management System and Australian Packaging Covenant action plan, which you can get a copy of here.
What is rice malt syrup?
Rice malt syrup (RMS) is made from 100% organic brown rice. It is made through culturing rice with enzymes to breakdown the starches and then cooking until it becomes syrup. The final product contains soluble complex carbohydrates, maltose and a small amount of glucose. RMS is 100% fructose free.
Why is fructose free important?
The importance here is that the carbohydrates in RMS provide a steady supply of energy, requiring up to 90 minutes digestion time. Other sweeteners like sugar, honey, maple syrup, coconut sugar and agave, which range from 50-90% fructose, are faster releasing sugars which cause insulin spikes, the associated blood sugar crashes (the blood sugar-insulin rollercoaster) and therefore cravings, hunger and fatigue. Or in other words, the all-too-common 3.30-itis. Chronically elevated insulin levels lead to fat accumulation and longer term, obesity and diabetes.
In short, avoiding the blood-sugar rollercoaster is the key to satiety, hormonal control and weight management. In comparison to fructose, glucose is used by every cell in our bodies and our liver only metabolizes 20%. Remember, glucose is also found in starchy carbohydrates like sweet potato – our perfect post-exercise glycogen replenishment.
To quote Sarah Wilson, our I Quit Sugar expert, the problem with fructose is that the metabolic burden rests on your liver. It is converted directly to fatty acids, and then body fat. For me, that’s enough to avoid the stuff like the plague! I eat a small amount of fruit, but mainly low fructose choices like berries and kiwi fruits. I also love bananas, but I save these for before my longer sessions or post-training. I very rarely use honey or maple syrup (40% fructose) and never use coconut sugar (50%) or agave (90%) fructose. I suggest you steer clear of these too.
For more information on fructose, we highly recommended Sweet Poison by David Gillespie.
What are the benefits of RMS?
Other than an efficient source of energy, RMS is the perfect sweetener for those following a low FODMAP diet (often for fructose intolerance), and unlike honey, is suitable for vegans. It is gluten free and contains no artificial colours and flavours so it is ideal for our natural nutrition approach. Pure Harvest RMS is also organic and GMO free, so just perfect in my opinion.
In terms of cooking or baking, the great thing about RMS is that you can substitute it for any sugar or sweetener. In our opinion, ¼ cup is sufficient. Our favourite thing about RMS is that unlike our more traditional sweeteners, it doesn’t taste too sweet. This helps with portion control and again, blood sugar control, satiety, hormonal control and weight management. In case you hadn’t noticed, sweet foods stimulate the need for more sweet foods and start the vicious cycle of addiction.
Here is a selection of our most popular recipes to get you started:
You can also use RMS as a spread, on pancakes, or in a smoothie, if you need to boost your post-exercise carbohydrate intake.
Why wouldn’t you use RMS?
As it is made from brown rice, RMS is technically not grain-free. Those following a strict paleo protocol usually use honey or maple syrup as sweeteners for that reason, but we still prefer a fructose free alternative.
Those following a low-carbohydrate protocol would also not use RMS. It contains 8 grams of carbohydrate per 10g serve (80% carbohydrate) and the reason why sweet treats are exactly that: “treats”. Or “sometimes foods” as we like to call them. Just like sweet potato and bananas, we suggest you consume RMS around training.
The RMS controversy
Recent research by scientists at Dartmouth College, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) in 2012, found consumers were ingesting potentially harmful levels of arsenic via rice and RMS. This report understandably discouraged some consumers from purchasing RMS, but it’s important to keep these studies in perspective. Remember, we live in Australia and Pure Harvest is flying the flag in chemical-free products and environmentally sound manufacturing techniques.
After this so called controversy, Pure Harvest released the following statement:
“The FSANZ standard 1.4.1 permits a level for cereals of 1 mg/kg (ppm) of total arsenic. As can be seen from the test report provided, our rice syrup has a level of <0.040 mg/kg (ppm) of total arsenic (note the less than, this is the detection limit for the specific test used to detect the arsenic in this case, so the actual levels are less than this), so is well below the maximum permitted levels stated in the code. The American FDA do not have any standards set for arsenic in food or beverages, and are in general many years behind Australia and New Zealand in the development and implementation of Food Safety systems.”
We’re more than happy with that.
The best news? Pure Harvest are now developing a squeeze bottle. The final improvement on an otherwise fantastic product, so stay tuned for its release! Purchase Pure Harvest Rice Malt Syrup for under $4.00 from the health food section of Coles. If your local supermarket is yet to stock it, put in your request here.