Rice milk can be used in ice creams, smoothies, coffees, and just about anywhere where you would normally use other milk. It is a great substitute for cow’s milk as well as soy milk for those who are lactose intolerant and allergic to soy milk. It is also loved by vegetarians and vegans because is made from rice, and contains no animal products. But does it contain fructose, and is it safe for those who have a fructose intolerance?
Fructose is a natural sugar which is found in fruits, vegetables, grains and nuts. Unlike glucose, it is not readily absorbed into the bloodstream, but rather it is processed by the liver which turns it into glucose. Those who are fructose intolerant are unable to turn the fructose into glucose which causes low blood sugar levels. Therefore those who are intolerant need to limit their intake of fructose. However, even if you are intolerant you should never aim to eliminate all fructose.
What Is Rice Milk?
Rice milk is made from boiled rice and water, and is usually left unsweetened as it is naturally sweet. Milk that is made from brown rice contains more vitamins, minerals and fiber than milk that is made from white rice. This is simply because some of those nutrients are removed from the white rice during processing. Some brands of rice milk are fortified with certain vitamins and minerals in order to provide you with more nutrition.
Unlike cow’s milk, rice milk does not contain any cholesterol, nor is it high in proteins, but it is high in carbohydrates which break down into sugars in the body.
Unsweetened Rice Milk
Unsweetened rice milk is naturally sweeter than cow’s milk, due to the high amounts of carbohydrates which rice contains. Carbohydrates are essential to the body as they provide energy for the brain and central nervous system. There are simple carbohydrates such as glucose, fructose and galactose, as well as complex carbohydrates. Rice contains complex carbohydrates which break down into simple carbohydrates; mainly into glucose, but into fructose as well.
Because of the carbohydrates, unsweetened rice milk will contain small amounts of fructose. However, this fructose is natural, and in small amounts is safe, even for those who are fructose intolerant. White rice does not contain as much as brown rice, and is therefore a better choice if you are fructose intolerant.
Sweetened Rice Milk
Even though rice milk is naturally sweet, some commercial brands still add sweeteners such as brown rice syrup, sugar cane syrup, or other sugars, as well as thickening agents. These sugars or sweeteners usually contain fructose which you should not consume if you are fructose intolerant. Always read the label and buy unsweetened milk if possible.
Making Your Own
Rice milk can be purchased in grocery stores and health foods stores. Or, if you cannot find unsweetened rice milk, you can easily make your own at home if you have a blender or food processor. Simply cook 1 cup of white rice in 4 cups of water until soft. Blend or process in a food processor and strain the milk from the fiber. You may add flavorings, such as vanilla or cinnamon.