Maple Syrup • How healthy is the sugar alternative?

Maple syrup contains far fewer calories than white table sugar, but more nutrients such as iron and zinc. But is it really healthier?

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Sugar alternatives: varied - but healthier?

Maple syrup: varieties and production

In addition to rice syrup, agave syrup, honey and other sugar alternatives, maple syrup is a popular sweetener, for example for baking and sweetening desserts, porridge or muesli. The sweetness of the syrup has a strong nutty, somewhat bitter aroma.

Maple syrup is similar in appearance to liquid honey. The consistency is also similar, but maple syrup is a little more liquid.

There are different types of maple syrup that differ in flavor and color. Very light maple syrup has a milder taste than medium-light, amber-colored and dark brown varieties of the syrup.

Where do the different colors of maple syrup come from? Maple syrup is made from the tree trunks of the maple. The sap of the maple tree is darker the later it is harvested. Because the longer the sap stays in the tree, the longer microorganisms form brown products from the sucrose, which is why the sugar content drops at the same time.

The harvested, still relatively liquid juice is then boiled down to a syrup until the sugar content is around 60 percent.

Around 75 percent of the world’s syrup harvest comes from the sugar maple (also known as rock maple), which is native to northeast America and Canada. Over 90 percent of maple production takes place in Canada. The syrup only came to Germany towards the end of the 1970s.

Calorie content maple syrup

In addition to white household sugar, maple syrup impresses at first glance with its lower calorie content. There are 247 kcal per 100 grams of maple syrup. For comparison: There are 400 kcal in 100 grams of white sugar.

But it is not that simple. The lower calorie content of maple syrup is due to its water content of over 30 percent. It also loses some of its sweetness, which is why we like to pour a little more of the syrup over pancakes and co. To achieve the desired sweetness. In the end, we often do not consume fewer calories when we sweeten our food and drinks with maple syrup instead of white table sugar.

Is maple syrup a healthy alternative to white sugar?

Maple syrup, along with other types of syrup such as agave or pear syrup, is often touted as a healthy alternative to conventional table sugar. As a sugar juice, maple syrup is also primarily a source of energy for the body. In fact, in a direct comparison, there are a few reasons for maple syrup:

  • Calorie low: Maple syrup has a lower calorie density than refined table sugar and various other sugar alternatives.

  • Natural: In contrast to refined sugar, for example, maple syrup is much more natural. Unlike table sugar, it is therefore also allowed in the paleo diet.

  • More nutrient-rich: Since maple syrup is relatively natural, it contains iron, zinc and magnesium, among other things.

  • Antioxidant: Certain nutrients in maple syrup, the so-called flavonoids, which belong to the group of water-soluble vegetable pigments, also have an antioxidant effect. This means that they neutralize free radicals and thus inhibit inflammation.

  • More aromatic: In comparison to white sugar and also rice syrup or agave syrup, maple syrup is more aromatic. Its taste is reminiscent of caramel.

  • Glykämischer Index: Compared to regular white table sugar, maple syrup makes blood sugar levels soar a little more slowly due to its lower glycemic index (GI). The lower the GI of a food, the more constant the insulin level remains, which makes a more even energy supply possible.

Despite these positive aspects in direct comparison to refined sugar, maple syrup is ultimately a sugar syrup that is nutritionally regarded as sugar. And sugar is always metabolized the same way.

At the latest when the sugar in maple syrup, i.e. glucose and fructose, is broken down into its individual sugar molecules during digestion in the small intestine, it makes no difference to the body whether the molecules come from maple syrup, coconut blossom sugar or refined sugar.

In contrast to wholesome, sugary foods such as fruit, which also contain health-promoting fiber, maple syrup is definitely not a suitable and healthy food for supplying the body with nutrients. It should not be consumed in large quantities.

In addition, maple syrup also has disadvantages in direct comparison to refined sugar.

Disadvantages of maple syrup at a glance:

  • Sweetness: With its relatively high water content, it is less sweet than white sugar.

  • Transport and manufacture: Canada is the main exporter for maple syrup, which is rather expensive to produce. Up to 50 liters of maple sap are required for one liter of the syrup. The ecological aspect should be considered when buying.

  • Price: The manufacturing process is also the main reason why you have to dig a little deeper into your pocket for a bottle of maple syrup.

Use: Maple syrup as a sweetener in baking and cooking

Maple syrup can be used in many ways in the kitchen because it is very changeable. Different types are suitable depending on the intended use.

Which maple syrup is the right one depends mainly on what is to be sweetened. In principle, however, any variety can be used as desired. Ultimately, the decisive factor is how intense the taste should be.

Maple syrup for direct consumption

The lighter variants of maple syrup are usually recommended for direct consumption, for example for sweetening hot drinks or as a sweet topping on pancakes, waffles or desserts.

Maple syrup when cooking and baking

The amber to dark brown varieties with a stronger taste are particularly suitable as aromatic sweeteners for cooking and baking. As an alternative to refined white sugar, the tart varieties of maple syrup give it a characteristic sweetness when baking muffins, cakes and tarts, for example.

Maple syrup also gives soups or sauces an aromatic, sweet note when cooked. Maple syrup is also popular for refining salad dressings or in marinades for meat and tofu.

The caramel taste of the syrup can be intensified by boiling it down. The reason: Due to the effect of heat, sugar and protein molecules react with each other, which makes the maple syrup darker and more aromatic. Whether on the pancake, pancake or ice cream. Cooked maple syrup can be the icing on the cake, especially on desserts.

Tip: It is best to store opened bottles of maple syrup in the refrigerator. He stays there for several months.

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Source: Lifeline | Das Gesundheitsportal by

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