Maple syrup and honey, both are the world's most widely known natural sweeteners. They are frequently used as an alternative to processed sugar because of their lower glycemic index. There's no doubt that these two are healthier for the human body than refined and cane sugar. But between maple syrup vs honey which is the better option?
Contrary to popular belief, honey and pure maple syrup have very few similarities. In fact, they differ greatly in terms of carbohydrates, calories, vitamins, and minerals, even though both are good sources of these nutrients. We will discuss the particular nutritional combinations and the effects these two sweeteners have on human wellbeing in this article.
How are they made?
Honey is produced by breeding bees and other insects of related species, according to popular knowledge. Normally, bees generate honey to be used in the winter or during times of shortage.
To begin, bees retrieve liquid nectar from flowering plants (also known as angiosperms) using their long and tube-like mouth portion. They store this in their extra abdomen, known as the "crop." The collected nectar changes its concentration in the bee's abdomen by interacting with enzymes that alter the tone and storage schedule of the honey.
Honey bees then come back to the beehive later and regurgitate the nectar into the mouth of another bee. This process is repeated until the honey is accumulated in the honeycomb.
Lastly, bees use their wings to circulate the air inside the honeycomb. They evaporate water, which condenses the honey, and seals the honeycomb with beeswax. Honey's flavor and contour can vary based on the species of flower wherein the nectar was accumulated.
Maple syrup, on the other hand, does not need the support of insects. It is obtained from trees. This is why maple syrup is considered for vegan diets while honey isn’t.
Maple syrup is produced by logging maple trees. The black maple (Acer nigrum) and rock trees (Acer saccharum) are the most commonly used trees for maple syrup production. Though the red maple (Acer rubrum) is sometimes used in certain instances.
These trees can produce a sugary sap beneath the bark during early summer. The sap is accumulated and stored in tanks via taps drilled into the tree. It is then evaporated and condensed to finally produce the finished maple syrup.
Honey's color and texture can change, depending on storage period and temperature. It can often crystallize at times. These are, however, natural modifications and do not indicate that the honey has become stale. It does not have a shelf life.
Owing to its density, maple syrup is more prone to microbial contamination. A sealed bottle of maple syrup can be stored indefinitely. However, it can only be used for almost one year after it has been opened. Unopened bottles of maple syrup must be stored in a cool, dry place. After opening it, it is best to keep it in the refrigerator.
Is maple syrup good for you, or is honey better? Well, let’s find out.
One tablespoon is considered to be a single serving. One tablespoon of honey is 21g, whereas a quarter-cup of maple syrup equals 83g.
Honey has more protein, calories, and carbohydrates (including sugars, fiber, and net carbs), but no fats. There is a tiny amount of fat in maple syrup. To add to that, both foods are cholesterol-free.
Maple syrup has a lower glycemic index than honey. The mean glycemic index of 17 different types of honey is 61, whereas maple syrup has a level of 54.
Honey is ideal for a limited-fat diet. Whereas maple syrup is ideal for a low-carb, low-calorie, and low-glycemic-index diet. The substantial difference in average portion sizes of honey and maple syrup should also be considered.
Both maple syrup and honey have almost the same amount of calories. A tablespoon of pure maple syrup possesses 52 calories. One tablespoon of honey includes 64 calories. In small portions, the results are similar. However, when a cup is used with baked goods and other foods, pure maple syrup possesses 819 calories compared to honey's calorie content of 1,031.
One spoon of pure maple syrup offers 14 g of carbohydrates. Sugars account for 12 grams of that total. These sugars are mainly obtained from sucrose. They are complex sugar that the human body breaks down in a one-to-one ratio of simple sugar.
Each tablespoon of honey has 17 g of carbs. All of them are obtained from sugar. These sugars are primarily derived from simple sugars fructose. They also have a trace of carbohydrates and even lesser amounts of sucrose. Between honey or maple syrup, maple syrup is the healthier alternative because it contains less sugar as a whole. And essentially, it has less fructose. A high-fructose diet is harmful to the liver and heart.
A spoonful of pure maple syrup contains 0.1 g of fat, with tiny amounts of saturated, unsaturated fats, and polyunsaturated fats. But honey does not have any of the 3 subcategories of fat.
Minerals and vitamins
Honey has a slightly higher vitamin content than maple syrup. It is only in foods that contain only small traces of minerals and more vitamins.
Honey contains a lower dose of vitamin C and B-6, whereas maple syrup is devoid of both. Honey also has more than almost double the riboflavin content of maple syrup. In comparison, maple syrup includes more mineral resources than honey. It contains significantly more quantities of iron, zinc, potassium calcium, and manganese. Maple syrup has trace amounts of higher sodium levels than table sugar.
Both honey and natural maple syrup have intermediate antioxidant activities. These natural sweeteners have been shown to defend cells from oxidative damage, potentially reducing the risk for blood clots, heart disease, cancer, and other health conditions.
When compared to clear maple syrup, darker maple syrup was discovered to have higher antioxidant properties. Glucitol-core containing gallotannin is one antioxidant compound available in maple syrup (GCG). These are polyphenols that can scavenge free radicals.
Little is known regarding compounds responsible for honey's antioxidant properties. It is most probably due to the presence of flavonoids and phenolic acids. Because of their unique phenolic profiles, different sorts of honey sourced from numerous flowers have varying antioxidant capabilities.
Both maple syrup and honey contain natural sugar. Maple syrup has a lesser glycemic index of 54, whereas honey has a slightly higher glycemic index of 61. This makes honey a moderate glycemic index food. In one study, honey lowered low-density lipoproteins in hyperlipidemia patients and triglycerides in hypertriglyceridemia patients. However, artificial honey has the reverse effect.
Owing to its lower glycemic index, real maple syrup has a slight advantage over sucrose as a natural sweetener since it's healthier. Maple syrup may also have the potential to block glucose absorption from the small intestine. Thus preventing an increase in blood sugar levels and potentially aiding in the prevention of type 2 diabetes mellitus in the body.
Maple syrup and honey contain natural sugar but much less than processed sugar. Hence, they are considered to be carcinogenic. But they may have anti-cancer properties due to the other chemical compounds they include. Real maple syrup, particularly dark maple syrup, has been shown to have selective antiproliferative activity in vitro against prostate, breast, lung, and colorectal cancer cells.
Cooking, Prepping, and Taste
Honey and maple syrup have distinct flavors. So the decision as to where and how to use each is entirely up to you and your taste preferences. Fans of maple syrup's earthy flavor may prefer the texture of this sweetener. Whereas others may prefer honey's floral indications and thicker composition.
The high viscosity of honey lends itself very well to salad dressings and sauces, in which it can cling to other meals, whereas the thinner uniformity of maple syrup blends easily in baked products.
Both honey and maple syrup, when used in moderate amounts, can be part of a balanced diet. One can consume honey and maple syrup for sweetening everything from breakfast cornflakes to dinnertime meat dishes. You may have a personal favorite based on your dietary targets or taste preferences, but neither is intrinsically superior to the other.