Who doesn’t enjoy a little maple syrup on top of a stack of pancakes? It could even add a little extra nutritional power to your Sunday morning breakfast. According to research from the University of Rhode Island, maple syrup has more than twenty compounds that are beneficial to health.
Maple syrup is made by tapping the maple tree and extracting the sap. The sap is boiled to thicken it and deliver the sweet liquid known as maple syrup. Although maple syrup is sweet, its main sugar is sucrose which is a “better” sweetener than the high fructose corn syrup found in many commercial, imitation maple syrups. Real maple syrup is also a good source of minerals – particularly zinc and manganese.
The health benefits of maple syrup
The most exciting compounds found in maple syrup are bioactive compounds that have antioxidant activity. Antioxidants are naturally found in plants and since maple syrup comes from a maple tree, it isn’t surprising that some of these healthy compounds would seep into the sap. When the maple syrup is boiled to thicken it, these antioxidants become more concentrated. Researchers at University of Rhode Island also found other antioxidant chemicals called phenolics in maple syrup which they believe are released when the maple tree is injured – such as by tapping to remove the syrup.
Eating maple syrup may not be so bad for your health after all, although moderation is important since a tablespoon of it has fifty-two calories and twelve grams of sugar. Eating maple syrup too often is not a good idea for diabetics and those who are overweight or obese – particularly when berries are low in calories and a good source of antioxidants too.
The bottom line
What this study shows is that if you’re going to use syrup on your pancakes, it’s better to use real maple syrup rather than imitation syrups that have little or no actual syrup from the maple tree – but lots of high fructose corn syrup. Make sure the bottle says “real maple syrup” or “pure maple syrup” before buying it. Don’t start eating maple syrup by the bottle, but if you want something to put on your pancakes, make sure it’s the real stuff.