When we think of maple syrup, we picture a large stack of pancakes overflowing with sticky goodness. Even pure maple syrup is a form of sugar, so it’s important not to go overboard. But when we include small amounts in our food, it can provide some surprising health benefits.
Packed with Antioxidants
Maple syrup has up to 24 different antioxidants beneficial for reducing free radical damage, according to the medical journal Pharmaceutical Biology. This study out of Canada found that pure maple syrup has 20 compounds beneficial for human health.
“We know that plants must have strong anti-oxidant mechanisms because they are in the sun throughout their lives. Now we are looking at maple syrup, which comes from the sap located just inside the bark, which is constantly exposed to the sun,” says lead study author, Navindra Seeram, PhD.
When studies compared the antioxidant content of natural sweeteners to refined sugar products such as white sugar, corn syrup and agave nectar, it was found that maple syrup, blackstrap molasses and raw honey had more antioxidants.
Helps Fight Inflammatory Diseases
Antioxidants protect your health from diseases like cancer, Alzheimer’s and type 2 diabetes by reducing inflammation in cells.
Quebecol is a unique antioxidant to maple; it is created when the maple tree sap is boiled down to make the syrup. This study showed that quebecol is good for fighting the body’s inflammatory response.
May Boost Antibiotic Effects
When extracts from maple syrup were combined with certain antibiotics, less medication was needed because the maple syrup extract helped fight the infection, according to research out of the American Chemical Society.
Pure maple syrup shows promise in protecting brain cells from Alzheimer’s and other brain diseases.
Eating lots of sugar can lead to candida, leaky gut syndrome and IBS. Artificial sweeteners can cause indigestion, cramps and constipation. Inulin, a type of prebiotic found in maple syrup, bananas, artichokes and onions, helps in the growth of good probiotic bacteria and suppresses the growth of bad bugs in your digestive system.
Lower Glycemic Index Score than Refined Sugar
Refined table sugar has a glycemic index of 68, glucose – 96; brown sugar – 64; honey – 60 blackstrap molasses - 55 to 60 and maple syrup – 54. This doesn’t mean you should go overboard, but it is fine to enjoy in small quantities.
Healthier Than Artificial Sweeteners
Artificial sweeteners are linked to many health problems including weight gain, fatigue, anxiety, depression, learning disabilities, short-term memory loss and much more.
Please Note: Maple syrup can make a good natural sweetener in small quantitities and eaten with whole foods. It doesn’t contain a high quantity of vitamins and minerals compared to vegetables, fruits and good proteins and fats.
How is Maple Syrup Made?
Sugar is naturally present in all plants. Maple trees have a sap that is harvested and boiled down to make the syrup. It takes about 40 liters of sap to make one liter of maple syrup.
How to Select the Best Quality Maple Syrup
To get the benefits of maple syrup be sure to buy real maple syrup. Much of the syrups out there are just ‘flavored’ highly refined sugars. Read the ingredient label to make sure it is only maple syrup and not refined cane/beet sugar or high fructose corn syrup, and do not have preservatives, artificial dyes and flavors. It is best to get organic maple syrup because the trees can be treated with chemicals.
Grade B maple syrup is harvested later in the year and is more concentrated. It has a stronger flavor and is darker in color, making it good to cook with. Some research shows that it is richer in antioxidants. Grade A, the lighter one is used on pancakes.
How to Store
It is best to keep unopened containers of maple syrup in a cool, dry place. To preserve the delicate flavor over a long period it is best to store in the freezer. Once opened, store in the refrigerator or in the freezer.
Tip for Cooking
When you are replacing table sugar with maple syrup in baked goods, use the same amount of maple syrup, but reduce the amount of liquid in the recipe by about a half-cup.