Maple syrup is not just a delicious topping for your waffles or pancakes but is also a great alternative to refined sugar in dishes like oatmeal. While it is a delightful treat, maple syrup actually helps you get into healthier food habits and offers several health benefits, including keeping obesity at bay.
There is more to maple syrup than people think, especially in the different types of maple syrup and the way it is produced. In this blog, we will focus on why and how we can analyze that maple syrup is good for you.
What is maple syrup?
Maple syrup is one of the natural sweeteners that come from the sap of the sugar maple trees. It is considered to be healthier and more nutritious than the regular table sugar and the natural sugar that we consume from normal sweet foods. Some of the purest maple syrup comes from Canada, and from there, it is supplied across most countries in the world.
Where does maple syrup come from?
Maple syrup is extracted from the sap of the sugar maple trees. Not all trees produce the same quality. The trees that contain high sugar content are known to create the best syrup.
The extraction process starts in the spring season by drilling a hole in a sugar maple tree, which leads to the sap leaking from the cut. The sap is then collected in a container. Initially, it is in a very thin, watery state but contains approximately 2% of sucrose. The sap is later boiled to let the water evaporate and bring out the thick consistency of the syrup.
The taste of fresh, real maple syrup is one of the best that you can find. The sugar intake from maple syrup is comparatively lower than regular table sugar since this syrup is purely made out of natural fibers of the maple tree.
Canada, the country of origin of maple syrup, is also its major producer and supplier. The country has some of the purest reserves of maple syrup. Canadian maple syrup is processed carefully with an old authentic procedure that has been followed by generations.
What is the nutritional value of maple syrup?
Nutritionally speaking, maple syrup is good for you in terms of your sugar intake compared to any other sugars, like refined sugar or high fructose corn syrup that you can find around you. It is certainly an excellent alternative for those who are looking to avoid sugar in their diet without letting go of 'something sweet' in their entire day. However, just like with sugar or other sweeteners, it is best to consume syrup in moderate quantities.
Many believe that maple syrup contains antioxidant nutrients that offer several health benefits. Although, it is important to ensure that you are buying pure and real maple syrup instead of the ones commonly found in stores with high concentrations of sugar to reap the benefits.
One tablespoon of maple syrup contains 52 grams of calories and about 13 grams of carbs. Since sugar content comes directly from the natural forests of maple trees, many people prefer syrup over regular table sugar.
What are the other uses of maple syrup?
Besides a breakfast table favorite, maple syrup has many other uses that can benefit you in day-to-day life.
- In terms of food prep, maple syrup can be used to roast vegetables in the oven. It can be used as a natural topping to enhance the flavor of your dishes and traditional meals.
- You can use maple syrup to make sweet and savory salad dressings. Maple syrup in the blend of salad dressings will give a touch of sweetness to your salads.
- Marinating your meat or fish with maple syrup will add that perfect touch of natural sweetness to your meal and cooking them later will balance out all the other flavors for you.
- Using maple syrup in the preparation of salsa sauce is a very underrated recipe. It brings out the best of spicy salsa flavors. The sweetness of maple syrup and its thick syrup consistency compliment the sauce really well.
How is maple syrup graded?
A maple syrup grading scale is derived from a mixture of sweetness and translucency. Syrup's translucency is determined by analyzing much light can pass through the syrup. Dark maple syrups enable less light to pass through, while thinner maple syrups allow the most light to pass through.
Thinner maple syrup varieties are produced earlier in the spring once the temperature is cooler, while deeper maple syrup levels are generated later on in the spring whenever the weather gets warmer.
Canadian maple syrup is differentiated using grades and also according to its color. However, the good old grading system has witnessed a change. From light colors to dark, they are now categorized as:
Now: Grade A (Golden, Light Amber Color)
Best used for: Topping pancakes, oatmeal, waffles, and more.
Formerly: Grade A (Medium/Dark Amber)
Now: Grade A (Amber Color)
Best used for: Baking, glazing salmon, and using as a sweetener for beverages.
Formerly: Grade B (Dark Amber)
Now: Grade A (Dark Amber Color)
Best used for: Enhancing the taste of BBQ sauce and glazing grilled meat.
Formerly: Grade C
Now: Grade A (Very Dark Color)
Best used for: Candies like maple candy, as a substitute for molasses
Health benefits of maple syrup
Maple syrup is good for the immune system. It is known to help neutralize free radicals and cancel out several health problems that one might be suffering from.
Nutrients & Vitamins
Many nutrients are found naturally in pure maple syrup, including potassium, calcium, riboflavin, zinc, thiamine, and more. Zinc is not only beneficial to heart health, but it is also an ingredient that contains around 24 different antioxidants. Such antioxidants make the syrup a better alternative to sugar. It helps reduce unhealthy substances in the body that can cause inflammation or even contribute to chronic diseases.
Additionally, the presence of these antioxidants makes maple syrup a good alternative for patients with heart disease and complicated health conditions.
It also helps in weight loss and improves the functioning of your digestive tract. It does not have high sugar content, and the existing sugar content is purely natural, which makes maple syrup an excellent substitute for sugar in food and beverages for those on a diet.
Maple syrup helps with lowering your cholesterol levels and prevents inflammation of the liver. These studies were successfully conducted on animals, and the above-mentioned results were found.
Some studies also say that it is good for you because it helps with better brain functioning and faster cognition than regular foods do. Next to almonds, it is a good alternative to increase and strengthen a young brain.
The high content of manganese in maple syrup helps with manganese deficiency in any individual. Manganese is an essential mineral nutrient that is responsible for the maintenance of good health. If the manganese levels in your body increase, that can prove to be toxic as well. Hence, using maple syrup in a balanced and appropriate amount is extremely necessary.
Why is maple syrup more expensive than other syrups?
Maple syrup, an essential breakfast ingredient in many households, can be slightly more expensive than other syrups or even honey. The production and procedure of making maple syrup is an extremely fragile yet careful process. In addition to that, producing just one liter of maple syrup takes sap collection from around 40 trees. One maple tree can produce many liters of maple sap, but later, when the sap needs to be boiled and processed into a syrup, the amount goes down to being just a few milliliters. The ratio of the number of trees and produced liters of maple syrup is fairly low, and that is what makes it exclusive and slightly more expensive than regular sweeteners.
What many other people may not realize about maple trees would be that their sap isn't accessible all year. It freezes in the wintertime and requires special weather patterns to begin formation. It is only after the tree has warmed up that it is tapped, and the sap leaks easily. This is precisely when and where tapping is executed. It can take several weeks during the late winter or early springtime to harvest most of the sap. It may not always cover a barrel in a day; it can take days or weeks to fill a single barrel.
Add to that the growing problems, such as climate change. Moreover, maple trees are now becoming constantly uncertain about when to let the sap flow. This causes extracting it an extremely tough challenge.
So, is maple syrup good for you? To sum it up, we have learned that maple syrup has plenty of health benefits due to its antioxidants. It is certainly a better alternative to sugar or other sweeteners and is mostly preferred.
Choosing the correct maple syrup for your taste is not that complicated, but choosing the most organic and purest is a task. However, picking the best maple syrup brand is extremely important to ensure that maple syrup is good for you. The ones commonly found in stores are often sugar-heavy, making them worse than other sweeteners available.