Maple syrup, the sweet stuff we love, is fit for dessert. Birthday cake with maple frosting. Maple creemees. Maple pecan ice cream! But this sweetener is also featured in an array of recipes skewed towards health-based audiences. Maple glazed salmon. Grain bowls with maple dressing. Maple roasted vegetables. So, what is it? Is maple syrup healthy or not? When it comes to this question, there’s significant nutritional information that you need to know.
Real maple syrup is a single ingredient sweetener that comes from trees, not corn fields. There are no artificial flavors or color added to real maple syrup. This pure ingredient is simple. It’s not processed or chemically induced to taste better. That sweetness is all natural.
Maple is made by tapping sugar maple and red maple trees in the Northeastern region of North America. The Native American tribes of these regions have been tapping and producing maple sugar and maple syrup before European settlers arrived in the Northeast. The crop has grown into a sustainable agricultural industry that supports many small farms from Vermont, across New England, and through Canada.
Sap is collected each spring and boiled into the luxuriously amber hued syrup we lovingly – and traditionally – pour over our breakfast plates. But it’s not just sucrose in the bottle. The nutritional value of maple syrup is more significant and continued scientific studies have shown that maple syrup is the “smarter sweetener.”
Pure maple syrup contains vitamins and minerals that are lacking in processed pancake syrups. Minerals found in maple include potassium, calcium, magnesium, sodium, zinc, manganese, iron and selenium. The caloric value of maple syrup is 52 per tablespoon, compared to 60 in sugar and 64 in honey.
According to the International Maple Syrup Institute there are also “67 bioactive natural plant compounds” found in pure maple syrup as well. Scientific studies are continuously conducted to explore the health benefits present in maple. Some of these studies have concluded that several of the compounds in maple “possess antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that may have beneficial effects on health.” The compounds found in maple are comparable to those in berries and flaxseeds.
Whether you’re adding a tablespoon to your morning smoothie or folding maple into softened butter to smear over toast, you can be assured that the addition is wholesome. While maple can taste indulgent, there are scientifically studied elements to argue the compounds composing the syrup have potential health benefits. It all depends on how you use it, as well as how much of it you use, in your kitchen!
Here are some recipes to get you started incorporating maple syrup into your daily meal rotation: