Did you know that the classic topping for your morning pancakes also offers some other healthy benefits? That’s right. Maple syrup offers many other nutrients in addition to adding some sweetness to your baked goods or brunch dishes. In honor of National Maple Syrup Day let’s talk about 5 interesting things you should know about maple syrup.
1. Maple syrup is an all natural, minimally processed sweetener. Maple syrup is made by boiling down the sap from maple trees to remove the water and create a thick, sugary syrup. For those that are looking for a more natural sweetener that hasn’t been bleached or otherwise processed, maple syrup is a great option.
2. Maple syrup has some healthy minerals. Unlike the granulated white sugar that you normally use in cookies, maple syrup does offer some minimal amounts of essential minerals. One cup of maple syrup contains 21% of the RDA for iron, 89% for Zinc, 531% for manganese, and 22% for calcium. I wouldn’t depend on it being a good source of these nutrients in your diet however, since maple syrup is still very high in sugar.
3. Maple syrup contains antioxidants. Unlike other sugars, maple syrup contains as many as 54 different antioxidants, the chemical found in food that helps fight cell damage which could lead to chronic disease. In fact, 1/4 cup of maple syrup contains as many antioxidants as a raw tomato or serving of broccoli. Remember, the darker the maple syrup, the higher the antioxidant content.
4. Maple syrup comes in 4 different types of grades. The grading system for maple syrup recently changed so that now all maple syrup is labelled “grade A”. However, they are differentiated based on color and flavor. The 4 grades are:
- Grade A: Golden Color & Delicate Taste – best used on breakfast goods like waffles, pancakes, or oatmeal.
- Grade A: Amber Color & Rich Flavor – great for baked goods, tea, cocktails or fish.
- Grade A: Dark Color & Robust Flavor – great for using in BBQ sauce or glazes for grilled meats
- Grade A: Very Dark & Strong Flavor – typically used by candy producers, however can be used in place of molasses is recipes.
5. Maple syrup can easily be used as an alternative to sugar in recipes. Use maple syrup as a substitute for sugar in recipes. When baking, you can use 3/4 cup of maple syrup in place of 1 cup of granulated sugar as long as you decrease the total liquid content of the recipe by 3 tablespoons for every 3/4 cup of maple syrup used.
What are your favorite ways to use maple syrup? It is such a versatile ingredient as it can be used in everything from baked goods to marinades for meat dishes. Looking for some maple syrup recipe inspiration? Check out our pumpkin dip or almond granola!
- Prakash, Sheela. “How to Make Sense of the New Maple Syrup Grades”. 2/16/15. http://www.epicurious.com/ingredients/grade-b-maple-syrup-buying-guide-article.
- “Antioxidants in Maple Syrup”. Pure Canadian Maple Syrup. http://www.purecanadamaple.com/benefits-of-maple-syrup/antioxidants-in-maple-syrup.
Deborah Davis MS, RD is a Registered Dietitian who practices clinical dietetics in Chicago, Illinois. She shares practical nutrition tips and healthy recipes on her personal blog, Dietitian Debbie Dishes. In her free time, you’ll likely find Deborah in the kitchen, camera and spatula in hand, developing recipes for her blog and freelance pieces. You can also connect with Deborah on Twitter and Instagram.