Last Updated on July 6, 2023
If you are looking into alternatives to table sugar, you may be wondering which natural sweetener to choose. Let’s break down maple syrup vs. agave so you can get the facts and decide for yourself which sugar substitute would be the better option for your family.
Maple Syrup Vs Agave
Alternative sweeteners are always a better choice than using regular sugar or refined sugar. There are always pros and cons for any type of sugar product that you use, whether natural, refined, or artificial.
So let’s take a look at some of the healthier alternatives with these liquid sweeteners.
Maple Syrup is a favorite for grain free pancakes and waffles, but it can also be used to sweeten baked goods, slathered on grain free bread, and even as a coffee sweetener. Many gluten free dairy free desserts are sweetened with maply syrup.
What is Maple Syrup?
Real maple syrup is a natural sweetener made from the sap of maple trees, specifically the sugar maple tree.
How Do You Make Maple Syrup?
Maple syrup is made by tapping maple trees to drain the liquid out. It is then slightly processed by boiling it until it has thickened. Afterwards the maple tree sap is filtered to remove any impurities.
Beneficial Nutrients in Maple Syrup
There are many health benefits of maple syrup. It contains several nutrients such as: zinc, calcium, magnesium, riboflavin, potassium and the full daily recommended value of manganese. It also has an amazingly high mineral content.
The Flavor of Maple Syrup
Pure maple syrup has different flavors depending on the color variety. The lighter the syrup, the sweeter the taste. Dark maple syrup has a strong flavor.
- Golden maple syrup has a light maple flavor, and is the lightest in color with a sweet taste.
- Amber maple syrup has a dark amber color and has a classic maple taste.
- Dark maple syrup has a robust maple flavor and is darker in color.
- Very dark maple syrup is the darkest color and has the strongest maple flavor.
The Pros of Maple Syrup
- Maple syrup is very high in antioxidants and minerals that your body needs and packs a punch when it comes to its nutritional value.
- It has a lower glycemic index than table sugar.
- It may lower cholesterol, boost brain health, promote heart health and even protect against cancer.
The Cons of Maple Syrup
Anytime you consume sugar products you put your body at risk for tooth decay and blood sugar issues, so please use in moderation.
Agave is another popular sweetener that is collected from the sap of a blue agave plant that grows in the desert and in Mexico.
What is Agave?
Agave is a type of carbohydrate consisting of the simple sugars fructose and glucose. It is sweeter than table sugar, but has less of an impact on blood sugar levels.
How Do You Make Agave Syrup?
Agave syrup is made from the sap of the agave plant. When the agave plant is harvested, the leaves are are cut off to reveal the core, which is full of sap.
The sap is extracted from the core and heated up to concentrate the sugars, which gives us the golden liquid agave syrup.
Beneficial Nutrients in Agave Nectar
Agave nectar contains traces amounts of minerals such as potassium, calcium and selenium. There are also small amount of vitamin C and B vitamins.
The Flavor of Agave
Light agave syrup is neutral in flavor. It is sweet, but doesn’t have a flavor profile that changes the taste of what you are sweetening.
Darker agave has a stronger flavor that is similar in taste to honey.
The Pros of Agave
- It doesn’t affect the taste of food or drinks.
- Agave is a low calorie food.
- It is vegan and plant based.
The Cons of Agave
It has a high fructose content and can cause tooth decay, so make sure to use it in small amounts.
Maple Syrup Vs Agave
Maple syrup and agave are both good choices of natural sweeteners on the market, but there are many differences between the two.
Let’s dive in and take a look at maple syrup vs agave nectar.
Here’s a snapshot of the nutritional comparison between one TBSP of maple syrup and agave.
Maple syrup has more calories than agave, but contains almost 4 times less sugar.
- Calories – 52
- Carbohydrates 5.3 grams
- Sugar – 4.7 grams
- Fat – 0 grams
Agave has less calories than maple syrup, and is also fat free, but has a high sugar content.
- Calories – 21
- Carbohydrates – 5 grams
- Sugar – 16 grams
- Fat – 0
Flavor Profile Comparison
There is quite the flavor difference between maple syrup and agave syrup.
Maple syrup has a distinct maple flavor. When used to sweeten baked goods or drinks you will be able to taste a maple flavor.
Agave has a light, sweet flavor. It has a more neutral flavor than maple syrup and will not alter the taste of baked goods or drinks that you sweeten. This makes it a very versatile liquid sweetener.
The verdict: The best choice for flavor is based on personal preferences.
Fructose Content in Maple Syrup Vs Agave
Fructose is a type of simple sugar that makes up 50% of sugar, which is sucrose. Table sugar also consists of glucose. Fructose is converted to glucose by the liver.
The fructose content of maple syrup is extremely low. Of the grams of sugar in maple syrup, only 2 grams come from fructose.
Agave has a lower glycemic index than maple syrup or other sugars. Yet, its fructose content comes in at 90% fructose! This is more fructose than high-fructose corn syrup contains.
The verdict: It’s clear that maple syrup wins for a lower fructose content.
Calories in Maple Syrup Vs Agave
Lets take a look at the amount of calories that maple syrup and agave contain and compare them,
Maple syrup contains 52 calories per serving. If you are counting calories you will want to pay attention to how much maple syrup you are using.
Agave contains 21 calories per serving, which is less calories than maple syrup.
The verdict: Agave has fewer calories than maple syrup.
Maple Syrup Vs Agave Health Benefits
Both maple syrup and agave are popular sweeteners in the natural community. This is due to each being a plant-based vegan sweetener and having less sugar than other sweeteners.
Maple syrup is chock full of antioxidants and vitamins, which can help heal the body and strengthen your immune system.
It has has some amazing anti-inflammatory properties and even more nutritional benefits. Read more about the amazing nutritional health benefits of maple syrup.
Agave does contain some plant phytonutrients. This makes it healthier than plain white sugar, though its vitamin and mineral content is low.
The verdict: Maple syrup has more health benefits than agave.
Glycemic Index of Maple Syrup Compared to Agave
Compared to table sugar, these sweeteners fall under the medium and lower end of the glycemic index.
Maple syrup has a glycemic index of 54, which is considered a medium index.
Agave has a glycemic index of 30, which is considered a low index.
The verdict: Agave has a lower glycemic index than maple syrup.
Antioxidants in Agave Vs Maple Syrup
Since maple syrup and agave are both plant based, they do contain some antioxidants that your body needs.
Maple syrup contains at least 24 different antioxidants, which can help your body fight off cancer and inflammation.
Agave does not contain extra antioxidants, though it does have phytonutrients which can convert to antioxidants in your body.
The verdict: It’s obvious here that maple syrup has more antioxidants than agave, which has none.
Agave & Maple Syrup Vitamins & Minerals
These vegan, plant-based syrups also contain vitamins and minerals that can have beneficial effects on your body when you consume them.
Maple syrup contains many vitamins and minerals that aren’t found in any other sweeteners.
It contains the vitamins niacin, B5, B2, folic acid, B6, biotin and vitamin A. The mineral content is very high in maple syrup as well and contains calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, zinc, copper, and the full daily recommended dose of manganese.
Agave contains trace amounts of Vitamin K, C, and E and calcium, and trace amounts of vitamin C and B vitamins.
The verdict: While agave does contain vitamins, clearly maple syrup has many more.
Processing & Refinement of These Syrups
Maple syrup and agave are both processed and refined to bring the sap to their liquid form, though the processing and refinement are a little different for each.
Let’s take a look at the ways maple syrup vs agave are processed and compare it between the two.
Maple syrup is a pure sweetener that is processed through reverse osmosis and boiling up the sap until the water from the sap is evaporated.
Agave is more processed than maple syrup.
Enzymes are added to the liquid to split the complex natural sugars into simple sugars, similar to how honey is made from nectar. The second process is hydrolysis.
The verdict: Maple syrup is less processed than agave.
Other Natural Sweeteners to Consider
If you are trying to avoid white sugar and/or artificial sweeteners, here are some other natural sweeteners you may want to consider.
- Raw Honey
- Blackstrap Molasses
- Monk Fruit Syrup
- Date Syrup
- Coconut Sugar
These common sweeteners are a healthier choice than refined sugars.
Which is Better: Maple Syrup or Agave?
Maple syrup sure seems healthier and more nutritional than agave. Agave is lower in calories and has a lower glycemic index, but very high amounts of fructose.
Maple syrup and agave are both acidic foods. For our family, the best choice is maple syrup.
Maple Syrup Vs Agave: Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some frequently asked questions about maple syrup and agave.
How Long Can I Store Maple Syrup and Agave Syrup?
Maple syrup and agave syrup can both be stored in a dark cabinet if they are unopened. Once opened, they should be refrigerated since they do not contain any preservatives.
How Do I Make Maple Syrup at Home?
Not everyone has maple trees in their yard that they can tap to make their own syrup. One way to make your own at home is by making an imitation syrup.
Boil 1 cup water, 1 cup sugar, 1 cup brown sugar, and 1 tablespoon of pure maple extract. This is more sugar than a bottle of maple syrup, but it is sweet and fun to make.
Keep in mind that this is NOT a healthy sweetener to make!
Is Agave Better Than Sugar?
Agave has less glucose than sugar and has a low glycemic index, which helps the body to absorb it slowly to avoid insulin sugar spikes.
Is Maple Syrup Gluten Free?
Maple syrup is naturally gluten free and contains no gluten, though it is most commonly used on items that are full of gluten.
Is Maple Syrup Vegan?
Maple syrup is a great vegan product. All four grades of maple syrup are vegan as long as you make sure you are not purchasing a blended syrup that may be combined with honey.
Will Maple Syrup Freeze?
Maple syrup can be stored in the freezer. It will not freeze to a solid, but ends up in a slushy-like consistency.
Maple syrup is healthier than agave with its nutritional content and lower amount of fructose. Agave has fewer calories and a lower glycemic index, which doesn’t spike blood sugars as much.
The bottom line is that you should always be aware of your sugar intake, no matter which form you consume. An excessive intake of fructose can cause metabolic disorders and tooth decay.