Nutritional values of maple syrup
The third most used natural sweetener (after treacle and stevia), maple syrup is a healthy alternative to processed sugar. It’s free of gluten, saturated fats, and cholesterol.
Maple syrup is obtained by boiling the sap of two different varieties of maple tree: acer saccharum (the sugar maple) and acer nigrum (the black maple). Suitable specimens of both species must be at least 80 years old before their sap can be harvested.
An excellent alternative to refined sugars
According to numerous scientific studies, a high sugar intake can, in the long term, lead to health problems. Using maple syrup as a natural sweetener reduces the risk of these problems, thanks to the presence of antioxidants that protect cell DNA.
Additionally, maple syrup contributes to digestive health, keeping the intestinal tract in good shape. Sugar, on the other hand, if consumed in excessive quantities, can contribute to the proliferation of harmful yeast, and impact the permeability of your intestines. Artificial sweeteners, especially in people with certain sensitivities, are a frequent cause of cramping, bloating, and abdominal pain.
Maple Syrup has a glycemic index of around 54
Despite being 25 times as sweet as sugar, the glycemic index of maple syrup is only about 54. What’s more, it contains a phytohormone called abscisic acid (ABA). ABA is thought to assist in moderating blood sugar and stimulating the release of insulin from pancreatic cells, thus increasing the sensitivity of adipose cells and augmenting the muscle’s absorption of sugars.
The glycemic index of two common sweeteners for comparison:
- Honey: 87
- Cane sugar: 58
- Maple syrup: 54
According to the Canadian Ministry of Health, the nutritional value of maple syrup is superior to that of the most common sweeteners, like corn syrup, white sugar, and even brown sugar. Nevertheless, the caloric content of maple syrup is far below that of sugar or honey (sugar, for example, contains roughly 50 calories per teaspoon).
Maple syrup contains almost exclusively sucrose, although the grades Dark and Very Dark also contain small quantities of fructose and glucose.
Maple syrup soothes and hydrates the skin
Just like honey, maple syrup reduces inflammation of the skin, soothes burns, and rehydrates the epidermis (our skin’s outermost layer).
For example, try a simple face mask recipe with equal parts yogurt, maple syrup, oats, and honey. Mix well, and apply the mask to your skin for some excellent rehydration, while at the same time reducing harmful surface bacteria and preventing irritation.
The sap from which maple syrup is derived contains a multitude of beneficial substances: malic acid, potassium, calcium, iron, B vitamins, magnesium, and folic acid.
New studies have shown that maple syrup is a source of 24 different antioxidants useful in reducing free radicals. Some of these antioxidants are the same ones found in tea, whole grains, linseeds, and red wine. The antioxidant power of maple syrup is akin to that of Gala apples, broccoli, and bananas.
One quarter portion of maple syrup contains the same quantity of antiossidants as a raw tomato, supplying between 10% and 38% of the recommended daily amount.
Some scientific research has also indicated that the darker grades of maple syrup (Dark and Very Dark) are implicated in the reduction of cellular proliferation in colorectal cancer.
Maple syrup: All-natual sweetness!
Pure maple syrup contains essential vitamins and minerals that contribute to your body’s health. Three teaspoons (60g) of maple syrup provide 72% of the daily requirement of manganese, 27% of the needed riboflavin, 17% of copper, and 6% of calcium.
- Manganese 72% 72%
- Riboflavin 27% 27%
- Copper 17% 17%
- Calcium 6% 6%
Let’s look at these nutrients in more detail:
Contributes to biological mechanisms useful for bodily equilibrium: coagulation, thyroid activity, fertility, immune response, cholesterol, blood sugar, and bone formation.
Essential for proper immune system function.
Plays an important role in your body’s energy reactions, and contributes to the prevention of cardiac problems.
Assists in maintaining healthy blood pressure, as well as being involved in nerve transmission.
Contributes to strong bones and teeth.
On top of all this, maple syrup is also very low in sodium. All of these components contribute to a product whose effects are diuretic, purifying, emollient, slimming, remineralising, and replenishing. Its nutritional value is roughly the same across all grades, with some minor fluctuations according to when it’s harvested.
The wealth of nutritional properties is to be found in the method of extraction and processing: the syrup is derived via the process of concentrating the sap harvested from the maple tree from the end of February to April. The sap is boiled in a special evaporator until it reaches a temperature of 104° Celsius and the sugar concentration is 67%. Imagine that to produce one litre of maple syrup, you need at least 40 litres of sap.
Tangney CC, Rasmussen HE. “Polyphenols, inflammation, and cardiovascular disease”. Curr Atheroscler Rep. 2013 May.
USDA National Nutrient Database for standard reference http://www.nal.usda.gov/fnic/foodcomp/search