This week on the blog we talk about healthy eating or, rather, something that is surprisingly healthy -- maple syrup! Everyone on TeamMKD is pretty sweet on maple syrup, and given the health benefits, it’s easy to see why. Here’s the latest info on the benefits of maple syrup and how you might want to incorporate it in your diet if you're not doing so already.
Where Does Maple Syrup Come From?
Maple syrup—not maple-tasting syrup, but the real, amber-colored syrup—comes from the maple tree. Most maple syrup is tapped in Canada, which accounts for 80% of the world’s natural maple syrup. In the U.S., you may find some boutique maple syrups produced in the northeast on your supermarket shelves as well. Maple syrup is tapped from a tree, then boiled to remove some of the water and filtered to remove impurities.
What’s in Maple Syrup?
According to Maple Product From Quebec, ¼ cup of maple syrup (which is often used as the serving size) contains 100% of your daily recommended manganese, 37% of your riboflavin, and 18% of your daily recommended zinc. Maple syrup also contains magnesium (7%), calcium (5%), and potassium (5%). Refined sugar and agave syrup are essentially empty calories, with no nutrients to speak of. Honey and brown sugar have trace amounts. When it comes to a sweetener with substance, maple syrup is where it’s at.
The Benefits of Maple Syrup
When you buy pancake syrup, it’s either made from sugar or high fructose corn syrup. Besides all those sugary carbs, there’s no nutritional value. Not so for maple syrup.
Maple syrup, unlike most other sweeteners, plays host to antioxidants. These free radical fighting antioxidants help limit damage to your cells. Studies have shown that maple syrup has the same polyphenols that are found in berries, tomatoes, and red wine.
Zinc and manganese help keep your heart healthy, while also boosting your immune system. Riboflavin helps keep your metabolism strong and aids in digestion.
And you know that sugar high you can get from a cookie or other sweetened product? Pure maple syrup doesn’t produce that same insulin spike. While it’s certainly sweet, the body seems to process it differently, most likely because it actually contains nutrients.
Making the Switch to Maple Syrup
When buying maple syrup, you’ll notice there are two grades. Grade A is often amber in color, though it can range from a light amber to a darker amber. This is the easiest type to find and is often smothered on pancakes, waffles, and french toast.
Grade B is tapped later in the season and is often very dark in color. It can have a more “mapley” taste and is often preferred for baking.
Alternatively, some producers mark their products as “robust”, meaning that they have a more maple taste and a darker color.
When shopping for maple syrup, check the label to make sure that what you are purchasing is truly maple syrup. There are some imitation syrups out there which may say they are maple syrup but are in fact maple-flavored syrups. These syrups won’t have the same nutrients as true maple syrup and are generally a sugar-based syrup with a maple flavor additive.
Ready to get rid of some of those sugars in your recipes? Tablespoon.com shares how to substitute maple syrup for sugar and honey.
If you’re ready to bake, here’s a delicious recipe for Maple Pecan Scones to get you started.
As with any sweetener, it’s wise to use maple syrup sparingly, though. While it is a healthier alternative to sugar and perfect for baking that yummy batch of muffins, less is probably more. lol As always, feel free to reach out and let us know what you'd like to read about on the blog. Tthanks for reading!