Why Maple Syrup is a Super Healthy Sugar
Over the past decade, sugar has become the fall guy for a lot of problems we experience in American health.
And rightly so.
Americans consume an enormous amount of sugar every single day, more than ever in the history of the world.
Why do we eat so much?
Well, for one, as I wrote about just a few days ago, our nation is addicted to sugar-filled beverages like soda and the like.
Secondly, sugar is incredibly tasty and incredibly cheap.
Centuries ago sugar-filled foods had to be imported from vast distances away.
Now with modern trade allowing something grown in abundance to easily and cheaply move across the globe products that once cost a fortune cost pennies on the dollar.
And food companies have seen the low cost and the addictiveness of sugar as a perfect pathway to profit.
Does all of this mean that sugar is bad?
Well, it depends.
Highly refined sugars like high-fructose syrup aren’t beneficial because they negatively impact blood sugar levels.
But, there are a host of other sugars whose molecular structures work well with our bodies.
And one of the better ones is maple syrup.
While other sweeteners impact blood sugar far less than maple syrup hardly any other natural sugars have as many benefits as maple syrup.
And today I’m going to make the case that if you want to enjoy sugar in its various forms, maple syrup should be one of the leading products you depend on.
The Many Benefits of Maple Syrup
Everyone knows what maple syrup is, right?
Well, not really. Many people who enjoy syrup on their pancakes in the morning are not enjoying real maple syrup, but some form of corn syrup tinted with chemicals to resemble maple syrup in texture and taste.
True maple syrup comes from sugar maple trees. Maple syrup farmers (or harvesters) take the sap from the sugar maple and boil it and the luxuriant end product is that deep brown sugary substance we love so much.
What’s unique about maple syrup and what separates it from other refined sugars is its nutrient content.
Maple syrup contains all kinds of compounds that have been observed to perform various protective functions in the human body.
Today I’ll talk about those as well as elaborate on other benefits provided by maple syrup.
1 - Rich in Antioxidants:
Antioxidants play a key role in controlling inflammation in our bodies.
While inflammation in and of itself isn’t always bad, unregulated and chronic inflammation can be problematic.
Using maple syrup as one of the main sugars in your diet can help to control inflammation as opposed to contributing to it.
The reason why is the number of antioxidants it contains:
The medical journal Pharmaceutical Biology showed in a paper that pure maple syrup could offer as many as 24 different antioxidants!
The dark color of pure maple syrup indicates high phenolic activity. Phenols are plant compounds that express themselves in various colors.
Maple syrup’s plant phenols give it a dark color and that dark color is representative of various antioxidants, such as:
- Benzoic acid
- Gallic acid
- Cinnamic acid
While not all of these antioxidants are expressed in high levels, some are, and it could be argued their free-radical fighting activity could suppress some of the negative effects the sugar content of maple syrup may exhibit.
2 - Has a Less Pronounced Effect on Blood Sugar:
One of the chief concerns of most sugar is how it affects blood sugar levels.
When most sugars enter the bloodstream it causes blood sugar levels to surge which can negatively affect insulin levels.
Jacked-up insulin (not a medical term) is behind many of the diseases of civilization.
Which is why maple syrup is so awesome.
It doesn’t send blood sugar to the moon when you eat it.
Dr. Axe says the following and maple syrup:
“Studies suggest that the maple syrup may have a lower glycemic index than sucrose (which is table sugar), including research conducted on rats. This may help in the prevention of type 2 diabetes. Refined sugar, and in general refined carbohydrates that contain little fiber, are known to be rapidly metabolized by the liver. This causes a “sugar high,” followed by a quick “sugar crash.” Even worse, consuming too much sugar quickly spikes your blood sugar and raises insulin levels. Over time, that can lead to lower insulin response and problems managing blood glucose. This is the reason diabetes develops.
Now does that mean you can or should eat a lot of maple syrup?
It’s just to say if you were to use this as a substitute for refined sugar it’s going to harm you less.
The other thing too is that the glycemic index is lower, it will feel less “addicting” than other kinds of sugar.
3 - Could Help Fight Prevent the Formation of Cancer:
Reflecting on the antioxidant content is why people in the know are confident that maple syrup could help fight the formation of certain cancers.
This is especially good news when you consider that some kinds of sugar, or sugar, in general, can lead to the development of cancer
Maple syrup may help in the prevention of cancer formation.
“...due to the presence of antioxidants in the syrup that can protect cells from DNA damage and mutation. Some studies have even found that dark maple syrup can demonstrate inhibitory effects on colorectal cancer cell growth and invasion. Findings have led researchers to believe that dark-color maple syrup may inhibit cell proliferation through suppression of AKT activation. This makes concentrated syrup a potential “phytomedicine” for gastrointestinal cancer treatment.
Even if consuming syrup alone doesn’t result in a reduced risk for developing cancer, it makes a good sugar substitute since it’s generally a better option than refined sugar or artificial sweeteners.
I encourage people to think about using maple syrup as a replacement for refined sugars for this exact reason.
4 - Could Help Protect the Brain:
Your brain may love maple syrup, and here’s why.
Maple Syrup has a ton of polyphenol antioxidants which means that your brain could benefit from eating maple syrup.
This is because more than a few studies observed that these kinds of antioxidants are capable of protecting sensitive tissue in the brain.
The theory is these antioxidants (the ones in maple syrup) are capable of reducing oxidative stress in the brain.
The reason this matters is that if the brain is exposed to consistent oxidative stress it may result in the brain aging more rapidly than it should.
There’s also additional research that supports the claim that maple syrup and other phenolic-containing foods may cause a series of inflammatory markers that normally occur during an inflammatory response to be less severe thus mitigating potential neurotoxicity in the brain as well as the formation of conditions like Alzheimer’s disease and more.
What Kind of Maple Syrup Should You Get?
I’d say if you’re going to get maple syrup you want to do a few things.
Go organic where you can, just because it guarantees better production methods.
Another thing to do is get pure maple syrup. Anything else could be mixed with other kinds of syrup which is something I certainly don’t recommend.
Then there is the grade of syrup.
Grade A is the more processed of the two.
Grade B is less processed.
When it comes to getting the health benefits of maple syrup Grade B is the best (which is how you can remember it b=best).
Grade A isn’t bad necessarily, but it won’t have as many health-boosting properties, so do keep that in mind.