Yep, maple syrup. We’re telling you that this sweet, sticky substance not only makes the perfect topping for waffles and pancakes but also should be your new favorite sweetener. It turns out that maple syrup has some pretty amazing health benefits that often get overlooked. And now we know why maple syrup is the better sweetener.
But wait! Before you grab the Aunt Jemima out of your cupboard and start pouring it into your coffee or tea, let’s be clear. We’re talking about pure, organic maple syrup. While it does contain sucrose (that’s sugar!), it also contains vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that play a role in keeping your body healthy and your immune system strong. Pure maple syrup beats out sugar and even zero-calorie artificial sweeteners any day. Find out why maple syrup really is better for your sweet tooth.
Seven reasons why maple syrup should be your go-to sweetener
1. It Contains Many Antioxidants
So, we can get our antioxidants from a sweetener? Yes! Research on the benefits of maple syrup is ramping up in light of some amazing findings. As of 2011, research showed 54 beneficial compounds in pure maple syrup, including five never seen before in nature! These antioxidants come in the form of phenolic compounds. They help reduce free radical damage that can cause inflammation and lead to several chronic diseases. Navindra Seeram, researcher at the University of Rhode Island, said, “I continue to say that nature is the best chemist, and that maple syrup is becoming a champion food when it comes to the number and variety of beneficial compounds found in it.” (1)
2. It Helps Protect Skin Health
Some swear by applying maple syrup topically to keep their skin healthy. Now, generally, you need to eat antioxidants to get their benefits, but other qualities of maple syrup make it fun and beneficial to use topically. Not only does maple syrup have anti-bacterial properties, but now maple-leaf extract shows great promise for anti-aging skin products. Masks made with the sweetener can help reduce redness, blemishes, dryness, and inflammation. Try combining maple syrup with raw milk or yogurt, then blend in some ground oats. Apply this homemade mask to your face to hydrate your skin and balance bacteria. (2)
3. It Helps Fight Inflammatory Diseases
Thanks to the antioxidants in maple syrup, the sweet substance is helpful in preventing inflammation-related diseases, including arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, and heart disease. In fact, the evidence is strong enough that the USDA has granted funds for further research on why maple syrup has these properties. And how they benefit you. For starters, the plant-based compounds in maple syrup reduce oxidative stress, which is responsible for a weakened immune system. (3)
4. It May Help Protect Against Cancer
OK, so most people agree that sugar can contribute to a host of problems, including cancer growth. Well, maple syrup actually may have the opposite effect, thanks, in part, to its many antioxidants. For example, the phenolic compounds in maple syrup can protect cells from DNA damage and mutation. (4)
5. It Supplies The Body With Important Vitamins And Minerals
Maple syrup isn’t just sweet and tasty. It also contains important vitamins and minerals, including zinc, manganese, potassium, and calcium. Each nutrient is important to your body. Zinc, for example, helps the body fight illness and improve immunity, while manganese plays an important rule in metabolism, calcium absorption, and sugar regulation. (5)
6. It’s Easier on Your Digestion
Consuming high amounts of sugar can cause digestive system disorders, including candida, irritable bowel syndrome, and leaky gut syndrome. But did you know that most artificial sweeteners can also cause unwanted symptoms? Artificial sweeteners, like aspartame and sucralose, are toxic to your gut bacteria, your microbiome. Eating these foods can cause gas and bloating. Therefore, it may help your digestion to use pure, natural maple syrup instead. (6)
7. It’s Healthier Than Artificial Sweeteners
Artificial sweeteners have been linked to many health problems, including weight gain, fatigue, anxiety, and even depression. It’s also possible to form an addiction to artificial sweeteners that are used in many diet foods. Pure maple syrup, when used in moderation, isn’t linked to any health problems as of yet. Also, it doesn’t hinder your body’s ability to manage signs of hunger and fullness, unlike its zero-calorie artificial counterpart. (7)
But Why Maple Syrup as a Sweetener?
If you aren’t convinced yet, here are a couple of other sweet nuggets for you to chew on. Maple syrup scores relatively high on the ORAC scale yet low on the glycemic index. That means it has those beneficial compounds we talked about but without the blood sugar spike. Granted, it’s just barely in the “low glycemic” range, but if you need just a touch of sweet–and stevia and monk fruit don’t do it for you–then have a touch of maple syrup without worry. Should you drown your pancakes in maple syrup? Probably not, but it may bring a bit of joy to your morning brew. (8)
Canadian Forest Service Publications