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Maple Syrup--The Healthy Sweetener

In a world where we think of anything sweet as being bad for you, maple syrup is in a place of it's own.  Loaded with a wide variety of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, it has a place in a healthy diet.  Pure maple syrup is a great source of manganese, copper, and riboflavin.  It also contains magnesium, zinc, calcium, potassium, phosphorus, and iron. 


With a glycemic index of 54, maple syrup is considered a low glycemic product, lower than sugar or honey.


Maple syrup is also brimming with antioxidants. 1/4 cup contains more antioxidants than 1 medium cabbage, 1/2 cup of raw tomato, or 1/2 cup of cantaloupe!  And when it comes to antioxidants, darker is better!  Darker grades of syrup tend to contain more beneficial antioxidants than the lighter grades.


Maple syrup also contains polyphenols--beneficial compounds that naturally occur in plants.  Polyphenols are the power house in superfoods such as fruits, berries, and spices.  Researchers in Rhode Island actually discoverd 67 different polyphenols in maple syrup, some of which are actually unique to maple syrup.  To quote Navindra Seeram, the researcher who actually headed up this study:

"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. 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. These discoveries of new molecules from nature can also provide chemists with leads that could prompt synthesis of medications that could be used to fight fatal diseases. We know that the compounds are anti-inflammatory agents and that inflammation has been implicated in several chronic diseases, such as heart disease, diabetes, certain types of cancers and neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer's"

And another quote from him,

"I can guarantee you that few, if any, other natural sweeteners have this anti-oxidant cocktail of beneficial compounds; it has some of the beneficial compounds that are found in berries, some that are found in tea and some that are found in flaxseed. People may not realize it, but while we have a wide variety of fruits and vegetables in our food chain, maple syrup is the single largest consumed food product that is entirely obtained from the sap of trees." **

And the moral of the story is...using maple syrup in combination with other healthy eating habits is a good thing!

**Here is the link to the entire article in Science Daily:

miscellaneous maple containers
maple nutrition facts
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