Rice Malt Syrup: the scoop! [Includes recipes]

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. Rice malt syrup is 100% fructose free.

Why is fructose free important?

The importance here is that the carbohydrates in rice malt syrup 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 rice malt syrup?

Other than an efficient source of energy, rice malt syrup 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 rice malt syrup is also organic and GMO free, so just perfect in my opinion.

In terms of cooking or baking, the great thing about rice malt syrup is that you can substitute it for any sugar or sweetener. In our opinion, ¼ cup is sufficient. Our favourite thing about rice malt syrup 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.

Rice malt syrup recipes

Here is a selection of our most popular recipes to get you started:

Cashew & Coconut Delight

Raw Sweet Potato Brownie

Raw Tahini & Coconut Protein Bites

Gluten Free Spinach Bread

You can also use rice malt syrup as a spread, on pancakes, or in a smoothie, if you need to boost your post-exercise carbohydrate intake.

Why wouldn’t you use rice malt syrup?

As it is made from brown rice, rice malt syrup 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 rice malt syrup. 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 rice malt syrup around training.

The rice malt syrup 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 rice malt syrup. This report understandably discouraged some consumers from purchasing rice malt syrup, 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.

Pure Harvest – Company Information

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.

Do you need personalised nutrition support? Please book your Initial Consultation or program here. Find out more about us here.


  1. Jacinta

    Hi Steph, I started the fructose free lifestyle 4 months ago and have been a HUGE fan of RMS for 3 months. Like you say, I love the way it sweetens food without making it sickly, while having all the extra benefits. Win/win!! I’ve made a couple of your recipes – the sweet potato brownies is definitely my favourite sweets recipe of all time. Thank you!! Keep them coming 🙂
    PS I love Q&A on Tuesdays. Both posts so far have been perfect for me!!

  2. Joanne

    Hi Steph,
    Just wondering whether the RMS is recommended for people who are considered “pre-diabetic” or “glucose intolerant”. I had gestational diabetes so this is something I am trying to get a handle on by embracing a sugar free lifestyle but I am concerned about other substitutes. Thank you!

  3. Steph

    Thanks so much Jacinta – that’s so wonderful to hear!

  4. mandak

    Hi there! I recently found your blog and I love it! I have been on the candida cleanse for 3 months and have found out about rice malt syrup. I live in America and I cannot find the Pure Harvest here 🙁 Is there any other brands similar that I might be able to find here? Thank you so much!

  5. Steph

    Hi Amanda, perhaps it is referred to as brown rice syrup? There are plenty of brands available – I suggest pop into your local health food store and see what they have available. I hope that helps.

  6. Katherin

    Hi Steph, I was wondering if you’d be happy to give your opinion on rice malt syrup for babies. I am currently weaning my 6 month old and would like to try her with custard but obviously no-one likes unsweetened custard. There is such a strong message to not give babies sugar, salt & fat/oil that I am a little unsure as to whether I should proceed. The commercially available custard powders for babies contain apple juice concentrate but I prefer to make her my own food. I thought that as rice malt syrup is a complex carb (& she has been fine with egg) it would be ok to make her egg custard with rice malt syrup to sweeten. Thanks in advance!

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    […] the other night, Thankfully there are no more left. So I had a little rice malt syrup and cacao, (I switched it from the coconut sugar in the recipe for a no fructose alternative,)  so still no sugar, and outside this challenge I consider them healthy sweet treats,  but they […]

  9. As

    The fructose/glucose argument seems to get confused. Fructose is processed on by the liver, causing a significant burden and fatty liver type issues. However due to bypassing the gut fructose does not induce a significant blood sugar response and is low GI…hence its presence in many diet shakes. It is glucose that is rapidly adsorbed causing the blood sugar-insulin rollercoaster. Rice malt syrup has GI of 98.

  10. Jenni

    Does rms contain yeast?

  11. Tatijana

    Hi just would like to know if you can substitute rice malt syrup for lets Agave, Maple Syrup or even honey??? Thanks cheers 🙂

  12. Natalia

    I am a big user of RMS in my sweet treats but have recently discovered mesquite powder and was wondering what your opinion on that was vs RMS?
    Thank you 🙂

  13. Steph

    It’s a great option as it is also fructose friendly!

  14. Trudie Anne

    Hi Steph,

    I heard David Gillespie, of ‘Sweet Poison” fame recommend RMS as a substitute and immediately converted. Our local IGA sell it but it is at about $6–$7 unfortunately. Have found it at Woolworths a lot cheaper but I HATE shopping with Woolworths or Coles Corporations. My cousin then told me that the rice used, is imported from Japan and it was ALL contaminated with Fukishima radiation. She vowed she had thoroughly investigated the sources and believes she is well informed. MY QUESTION to you is what is your opinion of her allegation. I was devastated and now afraid to use it. Thanking you, Trudie Anne.

  15. Kinsey

    Hey! Can you please let me know if there is a difference between rice malt syrup that you talk about here and just plain brown rice syrup? What makes it “malted” I guess is my question 🙂 Thanks!

  16. susie

    Thanks for the interesting information, but I will always believe that fruit is perfect for our bodies, for good health. All fruit.

  17. Steph

    Hi Kinsey, it is largely terminology between brands. They are very similar products, but please always check the source and ethics of the company you support.

  18. Steph

    Absolutely. You should only need a maximum of a quarter of a cup.

  19. Steph

    The inflammatory nature and subsequent health implication of fructose are what we are considering here. GI can not apply, as one would never consume RMS on its own.

  20. Steph

    Hi Joanne, please keep the intake quite minimal as RMS is still 80% carbohydrate.

  21. Alexandria

    Hi, Love the articles and the site too. Will be my new “Go To Place” as I have quit sugar from the first of Jan 2016. Has anyone used RMS in their coffee oe tea? If so how did it go?

  22. Robyn Edlington

    Hi Steph
    I am making a facial cleanser which includes honey. Would RMS have the same benefit. I use RMS all the time and haven’t bought honey for quite a while
    Thank you

  23. Steph

    It doesn’t have the same medicinal benefits, so best to stick to honey for this one.

  24. Carmel

    How much rms do i use in place of 1 cup of brown sugar.

  25. Steph

    Hi Carmel, 1/4 cup should be more than enough!

  26. Charlene Johnson

    Hi , was wondering if rms is better for type 1 diabetics?
    I don’t add sugar to coffee, tea, or cereal , just would like to find a healthy substitute to sugar .
    Thank you

  27. Min Benstead

    Hello Charlene, RMS is a great alternative to traditional sugars, but please keep the intake quite minimal as it is still 80% carbohydrate.

  28. merle holtkamp

    what can u use in its place

  29. Min Benstead

    Hello, if you let us know which recipe you are referring to we will be able to help! Thanks!

  30. june

    I am thinking of buying the soap made with rice malt. Im told its very beneficial for the skin especially for balancing skin tone particularly dark circles under the eyes and pigmentation in general. However I just read your remark above about someone wanting to make a facial cleanser which includes honey but would RMS have the same benefit. Your reply was RMS does NOT have the same benefits and to stick to honey. What is your response to this please as I dont wish to waste $$ on soap if this is untrue in your opinion.

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