Maple Syrup: Nutrition, Types, Benefits, And Substitutes

Because there are plenty of good reasons to switch the sugar with this natural sweetener.

Reviewed by Ritika Dass, MSc (Clinical Nutrition & Dietetics)
Written by Aparna Mallampalli, BEd, MSc (Microbiology), Diploma In Nutrition
Edited by Ravi Teja Tadimalla, BSc, Professional Certificate in Food, Nutrition and Health
Fact-checked by Payal Karnik, MSc (Biotechnology), Certified Health & Nutrition Life Coach  • 

Healthy alternatives to sugar are becoming popular among the health-conscious. The benefits of maple syrup are gaining attention in this regard. This natural sweetener is made from sap extracted from the maple tree. It adds a unique sweet taste to many delicacies. Maple syrup is also considered healthier than sugar. But can you rely on maple syrup without worrying about calories? What are its health benefits and associated risks? Continue reading to know more.

Maple Syrup: What Is It, Types, And Preparation

Maple syrup is a natural sweetener made from the sap of certain species of maple trees like sugar maple, red maple, and black maple. These trees are native to Canada and the northern regions of the United States. Traditionally, the collected sap is boiled to prepare maple syrup. However, nowadays, maple syrup is prepared in many other ways. The process is described below:

  • The sap is collected by drilling a hole in the bark of the maple tree.
  • The sap is boiled until the hydrometer reads 66% of sugar content.
  • The syrup is strained and allowed to cool down.
  • It is stored in clean containers at room temperature.
protip_icon Pro Tip
An unopened bottle of maple syrup can last a long time, almost a couple of years, but once opened it should be refrigerated.

You will get varieties of maple syrup available on the market and are distinguished based on the color and consistency:

  • Gold Syrup: It has a mild sweet taste and is prepared from the sap collected at the beginning of the maple season. It goes well with Greek yogurt and vanilla ice cream.
  • Amber Syrup: It is prepared in the mid maple season. The amber-colored syrup has a strong, rich taste and is served with waffles, salads, and maple-sweetened barbecue sauce.
  • Dark Syrup: The syrup turns dark as the sugaring season progresses. Dark maple syrup has a caramel-like taste. It goes well with baked apples and is used for glazing meats.
  • Very Dark Syrup: This syrup is produced at the end of maple season. It has a rich taste and strong maple flavors. It is generally used for cooking or baking.
    Contrary to popular belief, maple syrup has a rich nutrient profile.

Maple Syrup Nutrition Facts

A hundred grams of maple syrup contains (1):

Calories260 kcal
Protein0.24 g
Total lipid (fat)0.06 g
Carbohydrate67 g
Fiber0 g
Calcium102 mg
Iron0.11 g
Magnesium21 mg
Potassium212 mg
Sodium12 mg
Zinc1.47 mg

The calories in maple syrup may vary as per the serving size. Here is a breakdown:

Calories In Maple Syrup

Quantity Calories (kcal)
1 bottle (1000 mL)3,517
1 cup (236 mL)830
1 tablespoon (14.7 mL)52
1 teaspoon (4.9 mL)17

You can use maple syrup as a sugar substitute in your food and drinks. Here are a few ways to use it.

Ways To Use Maple Syrup

You can use maple syrup:

  • As a sweetener in smoothies, pancakes, juices, and health drinks
  • As a sugar substitute in cakes, cookies, and bread
  • As toppings on popcorns, yogurt, ice cream, and pancakes
  • To flavor plain milk
  • To glaze bacon, steak, and meat
  • With oatmeal porridge
  • To sweeten whipped cream for decorating cakes

protip_icon Trivia
To replace every 1 cup of white sugar in any recipe, you need to use ¾ cup of maple syrup.

Pure maple syrup has multiple health benefits. Let’s take a look at them.

Health Benefits Of Maple Syrup

1. Rich In Antioxidants

Maple syrup has significant antioxidant properties due to melanoidins produced by the condensation of amines and reducing sugars. Dark maple syrup has a higher antioxidant activity than lighter ones (2). These antioxidants protect from free radical damage to reduce cell damage and inflammation inside the body (3).

2. Has Anti-Inflammatory Properties

Maple syrup contains quebecol, a polyphenol that has anti-inflammatory properties. Inflammation often worsens conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, cancer, and gout (4), (5). The anti-inflammatory properties of maple syrup may help reduce the risk of inflammatory conditions.

3. May Aid In Digestion

Maple syrup contains inulin, a prebiotic and non-digestible polysaccharide. It supports the growth of gut-friendly bacteria, promotes colon health, and aids in digestion (6).

4. May Reduce The Risk Of Cancer

Maple syrup inhibits the growth of colorectal cancer cells. Its low sugar content prevents DNA damage and mutation. In addition, the antioxidant property of dark maple syrup may help suppress cancer cells (7).

If you are tempted to switch to maple syrup due to its excellent health benefits, read ahead to learn about its potential side effects.

Possible Side Effects Of Maple Syrup

1. May Cause Tooth Decay

Excess maple syrup consumption may damage the tooth enamel. The natural sugar in the syrup may also lead to various dental problems (8).

2. May Spike Blood Sugar Levels

Anecdotal evidence suggests that consuming excess maple syrup may spike blood sugar levels. However, if consumed in moderation, it may help people with diabetes to satisfy their sweet cravings without affecting their blood sugar levels.

3. May Cause Allergic Reactions

Unprocessed raw maple sap is a potent allergen and may trigger severe allergic reactions (9). It may cause rashes, swelling, wheezing, swollen throat, and digestive issues.

4. May Cause Fatigue

The excessive use of maple syrup may result in fatigue. This may be due to the presence of simple sugars (simple carbohydrates). Although carbohydrates are necessary to maintain energy levels, research says that simple carbohydrates may cause fatigue (10).

Jeanette Kimszal, RDN, suggests, “Added sugar in moderation is fine, but don’t use these nutritive properties as an excuse to go overboard with the sugar. It might be beneficial to switch to maple syrup if you’re using another processed syrup. However, there is no reason to add sugary foods to your diet if you are not already consuming them.”

If you are allergic to maple syrup or experience any side effects, stop using it. Instead, you may try these substitutes.

Maple Syrup Substitutes

  1. Honey: Honey is a natural sweetener and resembles the taste of maple syrup when used in delicacies.
  2. Agave Nectar: Agave nectar has a unique sweet taste that enhances the flavor of any dish.
  3. Molasses: Molasses is similar to maple syrup in terms of color and taste. However, it has an intense and strong flavor and can be used in candies, cakes, and desserts.
  4. Corn Syrup: Corn syrup looks similar to maple syrup and has a rich, sweet taste. However, use it in moderation.

Of these substitutes, maple syrup is frequently compared with honey. For a detailed comparison of the two, check out the next section.

Maple Syrup Vs. Honey

These two sweet condiments are similar in texture and widely used but differ in various ways. Let us examine some of their differences.

  • Origin: Maple syrup is native to Canada and the northeast US, while honey is produced across the world as honey bees are found all over. Hence, honey is more accessible. It tastes different across regions based on the kind of nectar honey bees have access to.
  • Level Of Sweetness: Maple syrup has a delicate sweetness. Honey has a strong flavor but may not be saccharine in its raw form.
  • Nutrition: Maple syrup is lower in calories than honey and also has high mineral content. Honey is rich in antioxidants and vitamins but high in fructose, which may be bad for blood sugar levels.

The Bottom Line

Maple syrup is a highly-nutritious natural sweetener. It is rich in antioxidants and polyphenols and possesses anti-inflammatory properties that help treat many ailments. The benefits of maple syrup can be attributed to its nutrient composition. It may aid in digestion, reduce cancer risk, minimize the risk of inflammatory conditions, and protect against free radical damage. However, excess maple syrup intake may cause tooth decay, allergic reactions, fatigue, and a spike in blood sugar levels. Hence, use it in moderation to enjoy its several health benefits.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is maple syrup good for weight loss?

No. Anecdotal evidence suggests that the high sugar in maple syrup and a lack of fiber can lead to hunger and weight gain. However, limited studies are available in this regard.

Is maple syrup a superfood?

Yes. Maple syrup is a new superfood that is rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties that help promote many health benefits.

Does maple syrup help you sleep?

According to Jennifer Schlette, a Registered Dietitian, “Many people who use maple syrup as a sleep aid say that it works, but there is little evidence to back up these claims. There are a number of popular recipes that use maple syrup and other natural sleep aids like herbs and cacao in order to induce slumber. Some of these foods contain melatonin, which is also good for promoting relaxation.”

How much maple syrup can you take in a day?

According to Jennifer Schlette, a Registered Dietitian, “Some people can eat a cup or two each day without any issues, but for most of us, this is not the case. A safe limit for one person to eat per day is around ¼ to ½ a cup each day. In fact, according to the American Heart Association, no more than 25 grams of sugar per day is recommended for women and no more than 50 grams a day for men. So if you want to keep your body in shape and stay healthy, keep an eye out for this number in all your kitchen goodies.”

Is maple syrup good for your skin?

Many people use maple syrup just like honey for the skin. However, limited studies are available to understand the benefits of maple syrup for the skin.

Is maple syrup healthier than brown sugar?

Yes. Maple syrup contains more vital nutrients like zinc, calcium, iron, magnesium, and potassium than brown sugar (1), (11). These nutrients are great for maintaining good health.

Is maple syrup good in coffee?

Yes. Maple syrup is one of the tastiest sweeteners to add to coffee.

Key Takeaways

  • Rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties, maple syrup, a natural sweetner, is healthier than sugar.
  • It not only helps improve your digestive health but also helps improve your bone health.
  • Frequent consumption may lead to tooth decay and/or allergic reations.


Learn about the health advantages and nutrient values of maple syrup in this informative video. This wholesome sweet offers a lot of goodness, from antioxidants to essential minerals. Tap to know more.

References

Articles on StyleCraze are backed by verified information from peer-reviewed and academic research papers, reputed organizations, research institutions, and medical associations to ensure accuracy and relevance. Read our editorial policy to learn more.

  1. ‘Syrups’maple
    https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/169661/nutrients
  2. Antioxidant Activity of Different Grades of Maple Syrup as Determined by the Hydrophilic Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity Method
    https://www.researchgate.net/publication/282511536
  3. Free radicals antioxidants and functional foods: Impact on human health
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/labs/pmc/articles/PMC3249911/
  4. Role of Antioxidants and Natural Products in Inflammation
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/labs/pmc/articles/PMC5075620/
  5. Anti-inflammatory properties of quebecol and its derivatives
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26691759/
  6. Detection of Inulin a Prebiotic Polysaccharide in Maple Syrup
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/labs/pmc/articles/PMC5819732/
  7. Inhibitory effect of maple syrup on the cell growth and invasion of human colorectal cancer cells
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4358083/
  8. Sugars and Dental Caries: Evidence for Setting a Recommended Threshold for Intake1.2.3
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4717883/
  9. Making maple syrup: Hazardous avocational ingestion of raw sap in a patient with nut and tree pollen sensitivity
    https://www.jacionline.org/article/S0091-6749(54)00101-7/fulltext
  10. Carbohydrate Consumption and Fatigue: A Review
    https://digitalscholarship.unlv.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1011&context=njph
  11. Sugars brown
    https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/168833/nutrients
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