Maple Syrup: How Healthy is the Sugar Substitute?

Reduce sugar or do without it completely – that is a wish of many people. Maple syrup is an alternative to sweetening. But is maple syrup really as healthy and good as its reputation suggests?

Those who banish sugar from their diet often look for alternative sweeteners.
Maple syrup is a natural product and has fewer calories than table sugar.
However, the syrup is mainly produced in Canada, which leads to long transport routes.
Many would like to live healthier lives and therefore reduce their sugar consumption or even remove it from their diet altogether. At least less sugar is often useful, because many processed foods that we eat every day are too sweet.

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends a maximum of 50 grams of sugar per day for adults. However, the average German consumes 100 g of sugar every day, which corresponds to 34 sugar cubes. Most of the sweetener is in conventional foods: in a glass of lemonade (200 ml), for example, up to 26 g of sugar, in a cup of fruit yoghurt it is even up to 34 g.

Those who want to reduce their consumption but not completely do without sweets often look around for alternative sweeteners. When looking for a sugar substitute, maple syrup catches the eye. But is this really more recommendable than conventional sugar?

This is how maple syrup is made

To make maple syrup, sap is extracted from the trunk of the sugar maple tree. The tree sap obtained is thickened by evaporation and filtering to produce syrup. During evaporation, about 40 liters of maple sap turns into one liter of maple syrup. Maple syrup is therefore a natural product. There are also organic products for maple syrup that are produced under stricter ecological guidelines.

Over 90% of the world’s maple syrup production takes place in Canada. Maple syrup is also made in China. By the time the sweetener is on our supermarket shelves, it has almost always had to travel a long way, which worsens its ecological balance.

Maple syrup: what’s in it?

Classic maple syrup is almost half water. It also contains carbohydrates including sugar. The sugar content in maple syrup consists of about 88 to 90% sucrose and about 11% glucose and fructose. In addition, the syrup contains a small amount of protein and minerals as well as a small proportion of trace elements.

Maple Syrup Grades: From mild to spicy

Maple syrup is graded according to color and translucency – from AA to D. AA grade maple syrup is the lightest and mildest in flavor. While grade A also still tastes mild, grade B already has a strong taste. Maple syrup grades C or D are dark and have a very strong flavor.

The darker and stronger the maple syrup, the less you need to sweeten food or drinks.

How Healthy is Maple Syrup?

Since maple syrup consists primarily of water and carbohydrates, it can hardly be considered a healthy food. The amount of minerals and trace elements it contains is also too small to be significant.

However, maple syrup causes blood sugar levels to rise more slowly than table sugar. This is due to the lower glycemic load of the syrup compared to conventional sugar. The glycemic load of a food is also considered an indicator of the triggered insulin requirement. Diabetics can also sweeten with maple syrup in moderation.

Maple syrup, like honey, has anti-inflammatory properties. The reason for this is the flavonoids it contains, a secondary plant substance.

Due to the high water content, maple syrup has fewer calories in relation to weight than, for example, honey or table sugar. However, one is quick to use more maple syrup than one would have used honey, for example. But that also adds up to the calories.

In summary, due to its composition, maple syrup can be considered slightly healthier than table sugar, but only as long as it is consumed in moderation.

Tip: Better season with fruit sweetener

Maple syrup is only recommended in manageable amounts to sweeten dishes. From an ecological point of view, it is better to replace the syrup with local honey.

Even better and definitely healthier: replace sugar with the sweetness that is naturally found in fruit. An apple or berries in breakfast muesli, for example, already help to sweeten the breakfast – additional sweeteners are then usually superfluous.

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