Is Maple Syrup A Healthy Sweetener?

pancakes

When it comes to natural sweeteners, maple syrup has become one of the most popular choices for health nuts everywhere. It's packed with rich, caramelized flavor, and is obviously better for you than all those artificial sweeteners out there, right? While it may be healthier than imitation maple syrup or other sugar-packed sweeteners, maple syrup still contains some ingredients that might make you look twice before you add a dollop to your next pancake breakfast. Take a look below to learn more!

To understand the essence of maple sugar, let's take a closer look at how it is produced. A hole is drilled into the trunk of a maple tree, and a container is hung in place to collect the drizzle of fluid that leaks out. Once enough sap is collected, it is boiled until the water evaporates, leaving a syrupy substance. The syrup is then filtered to remove impurities, and becomes what we know as maple syrup.

This brings us to the ultimate question: Is maple syrup good for us? Compared to other sweeteners, the answer is yes. Consuming it in moderation is key, though. Maple syrup is mainly comprised of sucrose, or table sugar. In fact, it consists of about two-thirds sugar. That means that for every 100 grams of syrup, you get about 67 grams of sugar. Taking in that much sugar can do some serious harm to your body, so be sure to limit your intake!

maple syrup
(Photo: Women's Health)

The important thing to remember, though, is that maple syrup also contains a wide variety of essential minerals. It boasts 7 percent of your daily calcium and iron requirements, 6 percent of your potassium, 28 percent of your zinc, and a whopping 165 percent of your manganese. However, those minerals can also be found in much healthier foods, so before you reach for that bottle of syrup, keep in mind that there may be more nutritious options out there.

Maple syrup is also known to contain a good amount of antioxidants. Antioxidants are absolutely vital to our health because they neutralize free radicals and reduce oxidative damage. One study found that maple syrup has up to 24 different kinds of antioxidants that could fight aging and certain diseases.

Be sure to take this nutritional information with a grain of salt, though. In order to get a decent serving of minerals and antioxidants in your helping of maple syrup, you'll still be packing in almost 70 grams of sugar! If you are trying to lose weight or watch your metabolism, it is probably best that you avoid most sweeteners, including this one! All that sugar can really sneak up on you.

For more information on the pros and cons of maple syrup, check out our sources here: Authority Nutrition, Livestrong.com, and SF Gate: Healthy Eating.