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Last Updated on June 2, 2023
One of the first things to cut out when trying to live a healthier lifestyle is table sugar. A great alternative to refined sugar or any artificial sweeteners, is pure maple syrup. You will be happy to learn that there are many health benefits of maple syrup. Consider making the switch with this better option.
Health Benefits of Maple Syrup
Maple syrup is a much safer and healthier option than store bought sugar. It’s chock-full of essential nutrients and tastes great. Read on to learn more about this natural sweetener and the nutritional value of maple syrup.
We use a lot of maple syrup in our home. It’s a great sweetener for my sweet potato frosting and perfectly sweetens my gluten free dairy free chocolate cake. You can also use maple syrup to make a substitute for simple syrup.
Before we learn all about the health benefits of maple syrup, let’s learn a bit more about maple syrup itself.
What is Maple syrup?
Maple syrup is a natural sugar that is made from the maple sap taken directly from maple trees. This sap is then boiled down to create a thick, sweet syrup that everyone loves to put on grain free pancakes and waffles.
Natural, Unrefined Sugar
This natural, unrefined sugar is not commonly found in foods, so it is considered an added sugar. Raw honey and maple syrup are the most popular natural sugars that do not have a high sugar content or as much sugar as refined white sugar does.
Maple Syrup Nutrition Facts
One tablespoon of maple syrup has 52 calories, 13 grams of carbohydrates with 12 grams of that being sugar.
There is less than one gram of protein and less than a half a gram of fat, so it is considered a low fat food. It also has lots of essential minerals.
Important Minerals Found in Maple Syrup
The minerals found in maple syrup are quite impressive. It contains the full daily recommended value of manganese as well as zinc, calcium, magnesium, potassium and riboflavin. Take a look at this impressive nutrition label for maple syrup.
Varieties of Maple Syrup
There are four different varieties of maple syrup that they are classified into by color. If you love maple syrup, you will want to try them all to see which one is your favorite.
Golden maple syrup is the lightest in color. It is made at the beginning of the maple season. It has a subtle maple flavor with a delicate taste, that is great on pancakes as well as over plain greek yogurt and even vanilla ice cream.
Amber maple syrup is made during the middle of maple season. It has the classic maple syrup flavor with a rich taste. It is used over pancakes and waffles as well as in salad dressings and sauces like barbecue sauce.
Dark maple syrup is created at the peak of maple season. It is darker in color with a strong, robust maple flavor. It is great for breakfast and in many other recipes. It can be used as a glaze and pairs well with smoky foods and pepper flavors.
Very dark maple syrup is made at the very end of the maple season. This is the darkest maple syrup with the strongest flavor. People prefer to bake with this syrup as the maple flavor shines through. It is also good in sauces you would like to sweeten.
Different Grades of Maple Syrup
There used to be two grades of maple syrup, and some people assumed that the more expensive grade was healthier or processed differently. This is not the case. Both of these grades are good choices and much better than a blend that has high fructose corn syrup in it.
There used to be grade A and grade B maple syrup that you could purchase in the stores, but that grading system has changed to the color variety as listed above.
Grade A Maple Syrup
Your grade A maple syrups are going to be the light amber, medium amber and dark amber colored syrups. These are now called Golden Delicate, Amber Rich, and Dark Robust.
Grade B Maple Syrup
Grade B maple syrups are the darkest variety of syrup available. These may be labeled as Dark Robust and also Very Dark, which was sometimes referred to as Grade B.
Which grade of maple syrup is best?
There are no longer grades of maple syrup because consumers were getting confused. They are now sold by color and flavor profile, so it is really a matter of preference and not the quality of pure maple syrup.
Health Benefits of Maple Syrup
There are many potential health benefits of maple syrup. Isn’t it nice to know that something sweet can actually have some decent health benefits to it?
With anything, moderation is key in small amounts, but you will be happy to see all of these amazing health benefits maple syrup can offer.
High in Antioxidants
Maple syrup is high in different antioxidants and includes 24 antioxidants that have some great health benefits. Antioxidant properties help your body to fight unhealthy substances known as free radicals.
Maple syrup has a lower glycemic index than your traditional bottled pancake syrup. It has a glycemic index of 54 which is lower than table sugar.
It is still considered a sugar and needs to be used with caution as any sugar can raise insulin levels and blood sugar levels. Though refined sugar is the leading cause of diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
May Lower Cholesterol
Maple syrup may lower cholesterol levels due to the phenolic compounds that bind to cholesterol molecules. Studies have been done in mice that consumed maple syrup and the group fed maple syrup had lower levels of cholesterol than those who were not fed it.
May Boost Brain Health
Brain health may be boosted by consuming maple syrup. The antioxidants in maple syrup are similar to vitamin c. These can protect the neurons in your brain cells against cell damage.
May Improve Cognitive Benefits
Studies have shown that maple syrup is linked to good brain health and in the prevention of alzheimers. It t may also have some cognitive benefits such as better concentration and help with memory.
May Promote Heart Health
Due to the polyphenol antioxidants found it maple syrup, it may help prevent heart disease.
May Promote Nervous System Health
Maple syrup contains the vitamin B2 compound, Riboflavin. Riboflavin is known to promote proper nervous system functioning and helps promote good vision.
May Improve Male Reproductive Health
Zinc plays a huge role in supporting the reproductive health of men. Since maple syrup contains zinc it can also protect against prostate enlargement. The manganese in maple syrup also aids in the production of sex hormones.
May Boost Energy Levels
Since maple syrup can improve mental performance, research studies have been done to show that maple syrup can have the same effects as an energy drink on the body.
May Boost Libido
The minerals found in maple syrup are all essential nutrients that can help with sex hormone production and energy levels, which can lead to an increased libido.
Even More Health Benefits of Maple Syrup
Keep reading below for even more health benefits of maple syrup!
May Prevent Periodontal Disease
One of the antioxidants in maple syrup is Quebecol. This is known for its anti-inflammatory properties that can help to prevent periodontal disease.
May Boost Immune System
Since maple syrup provides a daily dose of manganese as well as zinc and other minerals it is a great way to help boost your immune system.
May Fight Inflammatory Diseases
Antioxidants in maple syrup can help fight inflammation and diseases such as inflammatory bowel disease and arthritis.
May Protection Against Cancer
Studies have shown that maple syrup can slow cancerous growth, specifically in colon cancer. It has 50 antioxidants that are known to slow the growth of cancer and prevent cancer cells from dividing.
May Promote Skin Health
Maple syrup extract is used in many high-end beauty products and applying maple syrup to your skin can help with redness, blemishes and dry skin.
May Improve Digestion Compared to Sugar
Refined sugar does not contain minerals or nutrients that help aid in digestion like maple syrup does.
Since maple syrup has zinc it can help aid in the digestion of carbohydrates. It can also help keep your digestive tract healthier when replacing it with sugar that can damage it.
High Mineral Content
Maple syrup has a high mineral content for a sweetener. It is a wonderful source of the mineral manganese.
One serving contains about 104% of the daily recommended value of manganese, 81% of the daily value of riboflavin and 11 % of the daily value of zinc.
It also contains 6% of the daily value of calcium, 3.7% of the daily value of potassium and 4.1% of the daily value of magnesium.
Healthier Alternative to Refined Sugars
Maple syrup is a sugar, but it is a much less harmful sweetener than other refined sugars. This is due to the the mineral content, lower glycemic index and no extra refining involved.
May Improve Effects of Antibiotics
A study done by the University of Rhode Island showed that consuming maple syrup while taking antibiotics increases the efficacy of an antibiotic. Further studies show that the maple syrup extracts actually helped the antibiotic to break through the cell membrane more effectively.
Potential Risks of Maple Syrup
As with anything that contains sugar there are some risks of maple syrup and it should be used in moderation. Consuming a high sugar intake promotes tooth decay.
The carbs from sugar without fiber content can cause blood sugar issues, so use with caution.
Maple syrup is considered an acidic food, so use caution if you are on a low-acid diet.
How to Store Maple Syrup
If your maple syrup is unopened it is fine to store it in a pantry or cabinet. Once it has been opened it needs to be refrigerated and can last safely for up to two years when kept cold.
How to Identify Real Maple Syrup?
The easiest way to identify real maple syrup is by reading the label. Maple syrup should only list one ingredient: pure maple syrup.
Store brand or name brand pancake syrups will have many ingredients added to the syrup such as artificial ingredients, thickening agents and corn syrup.
Is maple syrup considered a superfood?
Pure maple syrup is a superfood because of its nutritional value and that it is plant-based.
Is maple syrup vegan?
All grades of maple syrup are vegan. Just make sure to check labels that you are not getting a blend or mix of maple syrup that is mixed with sugar or honey.
What special diets can consume maple syrup?
Maple syrup is frequently used in the AIP and Mediterranean diet as a sugar substitute.
Is maple syrup better for you than sugar?
Maple syrup is a much better choice than regular sugar because of its health benefits, and it is not refined and processed.
Is maple syrup better for you than honey?
Maple syrup is better for your body than honey because it has more calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium, zinc and copper. It is also lower in calories than honey.
Is maple syrup better for you than coconut sugar?
Yes, maple syrup is better for you than coconut sugar because of its simple refinement process. It comes straight from a sugar maple tree and is then boiled, whereas coconut sugar is boiled and then heated again when dehydrated.
Other Natural Sugars
There are other options for sugar products that are unrefined (or less-refined) than table sugar.
- Blackstrap Molasses
- Raw Honey
- Coconut Sugar
- Maple Sugar
- Raw Honey (read about the health benefits of wildflower honey)
- Monk Fruit Syrup
- Xylitol (from birch)
As you can see the list of maple syrup health benefits is very high. The nutritional value of maple syrup makes it a great alternative to refined sugars because of its healthy properties. The next time you feel a sweet tooth coming on, consider some paleo pancakes with pure maple syrup instead of another sweet treat.