Let’s make this very clear: When I say that maple syrup is my favourite natural sweetener, I mean REAL maple syrup, the kind that comes from a maple tree. NOT the fake stuff made of high fructose corn syrup, artificial flavours and colours that so many people drown their pancakes in.
Sorry to burst your bubble, but Aunt Jemima duped us all. Don’t believe me? Read the label. Real maple syrup should have only one ingredient: maple syrup. I stopped using fake syrup a few years ago when I realized there was no actual maple syrup in it.
If you are still using the fake version, stop poisoning yourself and/or your kids and buy the real stuff. Yes, it’s definitely more expensive, but it’s worth it. Read the label when you shop to make sure that you’re getting pure maple syrup. There are plenty of brands that advertise “natural” or “no high fructose corn syrup” on the front yet the ingredient list on the back is still appalling.
Why do I like maple syrup so much?
Well, aside from the great flavour and aroma, real maple syrup contains a moderately high level of antioxidants and has potential cancer-fighting properties. It’s high in zinc and manganese and contains many other nutrients in addition to the numerous polyphenols that give it anti-inflammatory power. It has more minerals and less sugar than honey yet doesn’t lose its health benefits when heated the way that honey does, which makes it the better choice for baking and cooking. Also, maple syrup has a lower glycemic index than table sugar, so it won’t make your blood sugar spike the way regular sugar does.
When choosing maple syrup, the darker the better. Syrup that is harvested from the trees later in the season has a darker colour, and also has higher levels of minerals (except for zinc) and antioxidants.
A word of caution: although maple syrup is healthier than plain sugar, it still contains sugar so consume it in moderation. The fact that it has healthy components doesn’t mean you can drink it by the glass. Eating too much sugar is linked to a myriad of health problems so you should always limit the amount of sugar in your diet to as little as possible. But if you’re going to use sugar anyway, maple syrup is a much healthier substitute.
1. Amritpal S. Singh, A. Maxwell P. Jones, Praveen K. Saxena. “Variation and Correlation of Properties in Different Grades ofMaple Syrup”. Plant Foods for Human Nutrition. March 2014, Volume 69, Issue 1, pp 50-56
2. Yan Zhang, Tao Yuan, Liya Li, Pragati Nahar, Angela Slitt, and Navindra P. Seeram. “Chemical Compositional, Biological, and Safety Studies of a Novel Maple Syrup Derived Extract for Nutraceutical Applications”. J Agric Food Chem. 2014 Jul 16; 62(28): 6687–6698. Published online 2014 Jul 1. doi: 10.1021/jf501924y