Pure maple syrup is not to be confused with the colored high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) from GMO corn and/or sugar water sold as pancake syrups in supermarkets and used by most restaurants. They usually don’t even contain any maple syrup!
The real stuff starts as a sap from maple trees mostly in the Quebec Province of Canada or in Upstate New York or the upper New England states. Many producers’ ship everywhere.
A little unrefined sugar for most is not a bad thing. High fructose corn syrup is a bad thing because it is processed and highly concentrated without other nutrients or fiber. Fruit contains fructose in small concentrations along with fiber and other nutrients.
So the overall package of sugar is what is important. After a little discourse on maple syrup in general, the second half of this article will provide information on its health benefits.
A Summary of Maple Syrup Production
Native Americans originally taught the early European settlers how to tap maple trees and boil down the sap to make this sweetener. The darker versions provide the richest tasting syrups.
Those darker hues collected at the end of the spring harvesting have been preferred by most, who also thought that they were more mineral-rich than the early spring harvest. But that has been proven untrue by testing from the University of Vermont.
Early harvesting requires over 20 gallons of water to be boiled out after harvesting the trees’ sap to acquire one gallon of maple syrup. Later seasonal processing requires even higher ratios of water to syrup for boiling down to one gallon.
Boiling out the water is basically the only processing maple syrup undergoes. Years ago formaldehyde was used to keep too much foam from rising during the boiling process, but that has been banned.
Instead, small amounts of natural agents such as organic sunflower oil at a rate of 1 drop per 30 gallons of sap is used to keep the foaming down. The oil is not found in the finished product.
The old confusing methods of classifying when the sap was harvested was Grade A for the lighter colored early harvest and Grade B darker colored for the end of the spring harvest.
This has all changed to all Grade A with subcategories: Golden and delicate taste; Amber color with rich flavor; Dark color with robust flavor; Very dark with a strong flavor.
Thanks to the University of Vermont’s analytical studies, there is little to no difference in mineral content among the different categories. It’s all about the desired color and taste.
Scientific Proof of Maple Syrup’s Health Benefits
There is quite a lot of scientific evidence regarding pure maple syrup’s health benefits. University of Rhode Island (URI) assistant pharmacy professor and researcher Navindra Seeram has revealed 34 new beneficial compounds, bringing the total to 54 in pure Quebec maple syrup.
He presented research data at the 241st American Chemical Society’s (ACS) National Meeting in Anaheim, California, in March 2014. According to Seeram’s report, 20 of the 34 newest healthy compounds were discovered during the year prior to this ACS conference, five of which had never before been seen in nature.
High mineral content in maple syrup has been known for years. Manganese, magnesium, calcium, and zinc make maple syrup’s mineral content similar to that of molasses without its overpowering taste.
But maple syrup enhances whatever is sweetened rather than dampening or distracting from whatever is being sweetened.
Most of our food comes from soil that has been minerally depleted, producing foods with insufficient mineral content. Most of our bad health comes from mineral deficiencies. Without minerals, vitamins can’t be effectively metabolized.
Many obscure polyphenols and antioxidant compounds that create positive internal healthy biochemical cascades are among the 54 healthy compounds found in maple syrup.
Some are anti-carcinogenic, and some are helpful for avoiding or minimizing diabetes risks and symptoms to the point where even “pre-diabetic” metabolic disorder folks can use pure maple syrup moderately.
At the ACS conference, Seeram stated, “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.”
Seeram added, “It’s important to note that in our laboratory research we found that several of these compounds possess anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, which have been shown to fight cancer, diabetes and bacterial illnesses.”
A Japanese study conducted by Dr. Keiko Abe of the University of Tokyo’s Graduate School of Agricultural and Life Sciences determined that mice fed real maple syrup had much better liver function than mice fed fake sugar water syrups, concluding pure maple syrup is a sweetener that supports liver function.
By using pure maple syrup as a sweetener moderately when appropriate, you are helping yourself overcome mineral deficiencies, fight cancer, diabetes, and promote better health. How sweet is that?
Tree sap to syrup image: finedininglovers.com