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Between ingredient lists, nutrition facts, and the variety of nutrition advice available, navigating healthy snack bar options can be a bit confusing. Is one sweetener better than another? Does it matter what ingredient is listed first? Should you only worry about the total sugar content?

While we'd love to tell you there's one magical ingredient or nutrition fact that holds the key, the truth is slightly more nuanced.

At GoMacro, we're passionate about spreading the power of a balanced, plant-based lifestyle, which is why we use clean, organic ingredients like whole grains, nuts, and plant-based protein. Similarly, we intentionally selected organic brown rice syrup to give our MacroBars a delicious touch of sweetness while allowing the flavors of other ingredients to shine.

A Closer Look at Food Labels: Comparing MacroBar Sugar Content

Before diving into the "why" behind brown rice syrup, it's important to understand how ingredients are listed on food labels. Many of us have heard that ingredients are listed in order of quantity, but this can be misleading - mostly when food manufacturers use this notion to their advantage.

By law, ingredients on a food label are listed in order of weight. Brown rice syrup is very dense, and it weighs more than the other ingredients that we use. For example, 1/2 cup of brown rice syrup weighs the same as 2 cups of oats. Even though we are using more oats by volume, brown rice syrup must be listed first due to its weight.

So, although brown rice syrup appears first on the ingredient list for many of our flavors, MacroBars are not as sweet as other bars on the market and tend to have less sugar per bar. You often do not see the sweetener first on other bar ingredient lists because they use smaller amounts of multiple sweeteners to ensure sugar isn't the first ingredient. If you were to put all the sweeteners together into a blend, it would often come first in their ingredient list as well. Therefore, it's essential to read the entire ingredient list and compare the total sugar content to get the full picture.

Why We Chose Organic Brown Rice Syrup

The recipe for the first MacroBar was inspired by our family's transition to a plant-based, macrobiotic diet. We remain committed to making delicious bars without sacrificing the quality of our ingredients. There's no shortage of sweetener options and sugar substitutes available today, but our decision to use brown rice syrup is one we take pride in. Brown Rice is an important staple in a Macrobiotic Diet, which led us to explore Brown Rice Syrup for the binder and sweetener for MacroBars. Here's why:

It’s Not an Artificial Sweetener

Plant-based and sustainably sourced, our organic brown rice syrup is made by breaking down the starch in cooked rice, which turns it into an easily digestible sugar. We don't use any artificial ingredients in our MacroBars, and that includes artificial sweeteners. While artificial sweeteners can lower the sugar content of foods, many also have potential adverse health effects. Brown rice syrup, on the other hand, is derived from natural and nutrient-dense brown rice.

Organically Grown & Free of Heavy Metals

We only use brown rice syrup made from organically grown InfantSafe® brown rice to ensure we're using the highest quality, sustainable ingredients. The InfantSafe® organic brown rice syrup we use is put through a proprietary safety validation process that removes heavy metals, including arsenic, lead, and mercury, to levels undetectable by conventional methods, without affecting the other nutrients. Our brown rice syrup is verified to contain less than 10 ppb of arsenic and lead, better than the FDA standard for drinking water.

No Fructose

Underlying most forms of sugar are two molecules: glucose and fructose. Fructose can only be broken down in your liver, whereas glucose can be broken down and used in other parts of your body. Most sweeteners contain high amounts of fructose (hence the name "high fructose corn syrup") combined with glucose.

Brown rice syrup, on the other hand, does not contain fructose. It includes three sugars in total — maltotriose (52%), maltose (45%), and glucose (3%). However, don't be fooled by the names. Maltose is made up of two glucose molecules, while maltotriose is three glucose molecules. Therefore, your body processes brown rice syrup the same way as it would process 100% glucose. The maltose and maltotriose also take a little longer to breakdown giving you longer sustained energy compared to simple sugars that provide a 'sugar high' followed by a low. Because brown rice syrup does not contain fructose, it doesn't have the same adverse effects on liver function and metabolic health as other sweeteners that contain fructose.

Binding & Sweetening

Organic brown rice syrup is used to sweeten our bars and help bind the ingredients to give the bars their shape. The stickiness of the organic brown rice syrup keeps the bar intact, which means we don't have to bake it. This process helps keep all the nutrients in our nuts, fruit, and berries fresh.

Compare

By law, ingredients on a food label have to be listed in order of weight. Brown rice syrup is very dense, and it weighs more than the other ingredients that we use. For example, 1/2 cup of brown rice syrup weighs the same as 2 cups of oats. Even though we are using more oats by volume, brown rice syrup has to be listed first due to its weight.

So although brown rice syrup appears first on the ingredient list for many of our flavors, MacroBars actually are not as sweet as other bars on the market and tend to have less sugar per bar. You often do not see the sweetener first on other bar ingredient lists because they are using multiple sweeteners to ensure sugar isn’t the first ingredient. If you were to put all the sweeteners together into a blend, it would often come first in their ingredient list as well.

Are you on a Low-Glycemic Diet?

While we feel organic brown rice syrup is a better sweetener, it is still a sweetener. It does contain glucose, so if you are on a low-glycemic diet, please consult your doctor before eating any of our bars.

A Balanced, Plant-Based Lifestyle

The foundation of any healthy lifestyle is a balanced diet consisting of mostly whole, unprocessed foods. It's best to fulfill most of our daily nutritional needs by eating vegetables, fruits, nuts, and whole grains, as recommended by the ADA, American Heart Association, Mayo Clinic, Harvard Medical, and more.

At GoMacro, we're very selective about using only wholesome, high quality, certified ingredients from the best sources. Even so, it's important to remember MacroBars are still snacks! We recommend enjoying one a day and getting the rest of your nutritional needs from a mix of vegetables, fruits, grains, and other whole foods.

Questions about our brown rice syrup or another ingredient? Contact us, and we'll find the answers for you!