Maple Syrup: Nutrition, Types, Benefits, And Substitutes

Written by Aparna Mallampalli , BEd (Biological Sciences), MSc (Microbiology), Diploma In Nutrition

Maple syrup is a natural sweetener and is said to be healthier and nutritious than sugar. It is known for the unique sweetness it adds to different dishes. Maple syrup is made from the sap of certain species of maple trees. This article explores the health benefits of maple syrup, nutrition facts, substitutes, and potential risk factors. Continue reading to know more about it.

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.

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

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.

The Bottom Line

Maple syrup is a natural sweetener rich in minerals and polyphenols. It has multiple health benefits and is a tasty addition to drinks and desserts. Make sure you buy it from a trusted source to maintain its quality, as unprocessed maple syrup may affect the digestive system and cause allergic reactions. Moreover, consume in moderation as excess natural sugar may affect your blood glucose levels. If you notice any side effects, stop using it and consult a doctor.

Expert’s Answers For Readers’ Questions

Is maple syrup better for you than sugar?

Yes. Maple syrup is a better option than sugar as it is a natural sweetener. However, consume in moderation.

Is honey healthier than maple syrup?

Both honey and maple syrup offer an array of health benefits when consumed in moderation. However, maple syrup is a healthier option because of its high antioxidant content.

Does maple syrup spike your blood sugar?

Yes, it may spike blood glucose levels if consumed in excess.

Can people with type 2 diabetes eat maple syrup?

Yes, people with type 2 may consume maple syrup in moderation and as advised by the doctor.

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

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