Do you love starting your mornings with a plate of freshly made pancakes? We all do!
What usually makes these pancakes extra juicy and delicious is that bottle of magical syrup that sweetens up your taste buds every time before you leave for work. Yes, we are talking about maple syrup; the holy grail topper of pancakes.
Almost thrice as sweet as regular sugar, this liquid goodness is a regular breakfast staple for many people out there. But have you ever wondered how it is made? Where does maple syrup come from? What ingredients are included in a typical maple syrup recipe? Can you include it in your routine if you are following the keto or paleo diet?
Keep reading this article to get answers to all these questions and so much more.
Where Does Maple Syrup Come From?
You are probably aware of what maple syrup is. It is a popular sweetener obtained naturally from the sap of maple trees. It has been a common staple for North Americans for centuries. However, around 80% of this organic maple syrup is now being manufactured (and supplied to different parts of the world) in Quebec in Eastern Canada.
What Are The Grades of Maple Syrup?
Did you know that all maple syrups are not the same? In fact, they have been categorized into various grades, each with its own set of characteristics and features. So before you invest in a bottle of this liquid magic, it is recommended to familiarize yourself with these common maple syrup grades.
Grade A/Fancy/ Vermont Fancy
Being the lightest of all grades, Grade A maple syrup is a great choice to drizzle over ice creams, pancakes, and waffles. It has a golden color and an extremely delicate taste.
Grade A Medium Amber/ Grade A Dark Amber
This richly-flavored, amber-colored maple syrup is for people who want more flavor in their meals. It can be a perfect choice to use in baking and cooking.
Grade A Dark Amber/ Grade B
As the name suggests, all maple syrup products categorized under this grade have a dark hue and a robust flavor to add in recipes that require a strong taste of maple.
Grade A Very Dark And Strong Flavor/ Grade C
With an exceptionally strong taste, this grade is used for manufacturing maple-flavored candies. It is also used as an alternative to molasses.
Maple Syrup Nutrition And Ingredients: How To Make It At Home
If you are not really a fan of store-bought maple syrup, you can easily make it at home according to your own taste and preference. For this purpose, familiarize yourself with the following list of maple syrup ingredients that you’ll need.
- Sugar: Both brown and granulated sugar will be required
- Honey or corn syrup according to your preference
- Vanilla extract
- Maple extract
- Hot water
Take a pan and add water, honey, and sugar to it. Place it on a stove on medium heat and bring it to a boil. As soon as it starts boiling, lower the heat to medium-low and let it simmer for around 10 minutes. Make sure to stir it frequently.
Next, remove the pan from heat and allow it to cool down for 3-5 minutes. Add vanilla and maple extract and stir properly. Transfer it to a jar and enjoy with pancakes and waffles.
Maple Syrup Health Benefits: Is it Good for Your Overall Health?
There are a lot of speculations around the health benefits of maple syrup. While many consider it as a potential trigger of diabetes and other related problems, others are confident that it can be of great benefit.
Mentioned below are some health benefits commonly associated with maple syrup:
Maple Syrup is Loaded with Antioxidants
According to numerous studies that compared the antioxidant levels of natural and artificial sweeteners, it has been proven that natural sweeteners, including maple syrup, tend to possess a relatively stronger antioxidant activity than artificial. As a result, maple syrup can help protect the body from free radical damage and associated issues like premature aging. (1)
Maple Syrup Has a Low Glycemic Index
Glycemic index is a measure of how quickly a certain food item can raise glucose levels in the blood. Refined sugar that is commonly used in most desserts is notorious for having a high glycemic index. As a result, refined sugar gets rapidly metabolized within the liver, leading to a "sugar high". This sugar high lasts for a short period of time, but ends up in a potential sugar crash that can cause sugar spikes and mess up your insulin levels really quickly. As a result, you are more prone to developing problems like insulin sensitivity and even diabetes.
However, with maple syrup, the chances of this series of events occurring are lower because it has a low glycemic index.
Maple Syrup has Anti-inflammatory Properties
Because of the high levels of polyphenol antioxidants, (2) maple syrup can help reduce the risk of several inflammatory issues, like arthritis, heart disease, and inflammatory bowel disease.
Better Skin With Maple Syrup
Just like raw honey, maple syrup can also be applied directly to the skin to reduce inflammation, dryness, blemishes, and redness. Combined with yogurt, raw honey, oats, or raw milk, it can be used as a mask for efficient skin hydration.
Improved Digestion with Maple Syrup
Unlike refined sugar that may contribute to several digestive problems like candida growth and leaky gut syndrome, maple syrup can sweeten up your taste buds without messing up your gut.
Maple Syrup: A Healthy Nutrition Profile
Pure maple syrup nutrition profile contains lots of nutrients and minerals, such as manganese, zinc, potassium, calcium, and iron. Zinc included in this natural sweetener can help improve immunity to fight diseases effectively (3) while manganese plays an important role in the metabolism of carbohydrates and fats. (4)
Maple Syrup and the Enhancement of Antibiotic Effects
Research has found that using maple syrup along with antibiotics like carbenicillin and ciprofloxacin can help them work better. The proposed mechanism through which this natural sweetener establishes this includes an increase in the permeability of the bacterial cell wall, which allows the antibiotics to enter these germs and kill them at a faster rate. (5)
Given the health benefits of maple syrup mentioned above, should you be including more of it in your diet? The answer to this question is highly variable.
If you are habitual at consuming lots of refined white sugar and need an alternative, maple syrup can be a great addition to your daily routine. However, this does not exclude the fact that it is still a rich source of sugar and; therefore, must not be consumed in high amounts.
On the other hand, if you just want to boost your nutrient and mineral intake by consuming maple syrup, it is better to look for other healthier alternatives that are less damaging to your body.
Can You Use Maple Syrup in Keto & Paleo Diet?
Despite having a number of health benefits, as mentioned above, organic maple syrup still remains a high source of sugar. It works great if you use it as a healthier alternative to refined sugar as it can satisfy your cravings while providing you with micronutrients like zinc and manganese.
However, if you are following a restrictive diet like the keto diet, where you have to keep a strict check on your sugar intake, consuming it would not be a very good idea. Despite the availability of keto-friendly maple syrup, experts still recommend avoiding it altogether.
Is maple syrup paleo-friendly? Yes, it can be eaten on a paleo diet; however, moderation has to be observed. Precautions have to be observed since it is still a high-sugar source that can mess with your efforts to lose weight.
Frequently Asked Questions about Organic Maple Syrup
What is the difference between grade A vs. B maple syrup?
Grade A syrup has a light amber color and is produced early on in the season. It has lesser minerals in its composition and a lighter taste. Grade B, on the other hand, is manufactured later in the season and tends to be darker, thicker, and grittier with a stronger taste.
How can maple syrup be stored?
Store all unopened jars of pure maple syrup in a cool dry place and try finishing it within 1-2 years. However, to preserve freshness and taste, it is better to store it in a freezer. Keep all opened jars in the refrigerator and consume them as soon as possible. Look out for any mold growth every time you consume it.
How can you use maple syrup in cooking and baking?
You can use organic maple syrup as a topping on oatmeal, French toast, pancakes, yogurt, ice cream, and waffles. You may also add them to your granola and protein bars.
Is it wise to replace sugar with maple syrup?
If you are a hardcore user of sugar and cannot live without eating something sweet once in a while, it is certainly a wise option to switch to a more natural sweetener like maple syrup as it has a low GI index. However, it is still loaded with lots of sugar and can possibly lead to diabetes and sugar imbalances in the long run, so observe moderation even with maple syrup.
Maple Syrup In a Nutshell
Maple syrup has been a staple ingredient in the North American breakfast for years. Currently being consumed worldwide, this magical natural sweetener possesses a lot of health benefits and can be used in your daily diet without messing up your blood sugar. However, while it is a good idea to replace sugar with maple syrup, it is equally important to observe moderation and avoid abusing it unnecessarily, especially if you are following a restrictive diet plan like the keto or paleo diet.