Benefits of maple syrup over sugar

Maple syrup an introduction

It is a natural sweetener made by boiling sap, collected from the sugar maple tree (Acer saccharum) and is consumed by individuals of all ages worldwide. The quality of maple sap like color, aroma, and taste is mainly based on the season of sap collection. Maple syrup is primarily graded according to its flavor and transmittance, including visual color differences, ranging from light-colored and delicately flavored, to dark-colored and strongly flavored associated with seasonal progression. The benefits of maple syrup are because of higher antioxidants concentration in maple syrup.

Geographical distribution

The maple tree is native to North America however large-scale commercial production of maple syrup found in North America, in Canada followed by the United States

Composition of maple syrup

A total of 42 phytochemicals are found in maple syrup in which sugar (eg. sucrose, glucose, fructose, and complex sugars), amino acids (e.g. arginine, threonine, proline, and histidine), organic acids, (e. g. malic acid and fumaric acid), minerals (e.g. magnesium, potassium, calcium, and zinc), vitamins (e.g. riboflavin (B2) and niacin (B3)) is present in the most abundant amount and exhibit hypoglycemic, antioxidant, antimutagenic, anticancer, anti-inflammatory, antibiotic and anti-neurodegenerative effects (1, 2).

Compound                                                                                     Amounts per 100 g.
Water 32.39 g
Energy 260 Kcal
Protein 0.04 g
Total lipid (fat) 0.06 g
Ash 0.47 g
Carbohydrate, by difference 67.04 g
Sugars 60.46 g
Sucrose 58.32 g
Glucose (dextrose) 1.6 g
fructose 0.52 g
Calcium 102 mg
Iron, Fe 0.11 mg
Magnesium 21 mg
Phosphorus 2 mg
Potassium 212 mg
Sodium 12 mg
Zinc 1.47 mg
Copper 0.018 mg
Manganese 2.91 mg
Thiamin 0.06 mg
Riboflavin 0.27 mg
Niacin 0.08 mg
Pantothenic acid 0.036 mg

Benefits of Maple syrup

Following are the maple syrup benefits for health

1. Nutritional benefits of maple syrup due to antioxidants

Maple syrup contains a high amount of antioxidants. around 30 different types of compounds are present in the syrup. Phenolic compounds like vanillic acid, homovanillic acid, coniferyl alcohol, vanillin, p-coumaric acid, syringaldehyde, sinapic acid, and coniferaldehyde which possess antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities.

Dark maple syrup contains equal or more amount of antioxidant activity as strawberry and orange juices, inhibits nitric oxide overproduction and protects against prostate and lung cancer (3).

2. Treat liver inflammation and injuries

The presence of polyphenols in maple syrup extract is effective to treat liver inflammation due to high-fat diet consumption (4).

3. Antimicrobial properties of maple syrup

It is a rich source of natural and process-derived phenolic compounds such as catechol which fight against different bacteria such as Escherichia coliProteus mirabilis, and Pseudomonas aeruginosa by a reduction in biofilm formation (5).

4. Keep brain healthy

Phenolic compounds such as lignan, stilbene, flavonoid, coumarin, and phenolic acid sub-classes obtained from maple syrup decrease oxidative stress and inflammation-causing markers in the brain thus exhibit neuroprotective effects against amyotrophic lateral sclerosis however further study on human is needed (6,7).

5. Anticancer properties of Maple syrup

A high amount of phenolic compounds and ginnalin-A content which inhibit cancer cell growth and invasion by cell cycle arrest more rapidly than sucrose (8).

Research study proved that dark-colored syrup has high antioxidant and anticancer activity against human colorectal cancer cells and gastrointestinal cancer cells (esophageal, gastric and pancreatic cancer cells (9).

6. Improve digestion

Presence of polysaccharide known as inulin found in maple syrup act as a prebiotic agent that stimulates the growth of bifidobacteria and lactobacilli bacteria in the colon thus improve digestion and protect from gastrointestinal tract diseases (10).

7. Treat oxidative stress and inflammation

Oxidative stress and free radical generation produce glycation endproducts that accumulate in the tissue and responsible for several chronic human illnesses including diabetes, neurodegenerative disorders and affect colon cells however maple syrup extract contain phenols that inhibit the formation of harmful product scavenge free radicals and protect normal human colon cells (11).

8. Manage lipid metabolism

Maple syrup contains a rich amount of polyphenols which is effective to reduce low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels by accelerating cholesterol catabolism and fatty acid degradation in the liver in obese diabetic persons (12).

Maple syrup side effects

Risk of Pollen allergy

If you are allergic to tree pollen you should not consume maple sap raw because it contains similar heat-labile allergens as the pollen which cause diffuse erythema, pruritus, and urticaria however after boiling to form maple syrup this antigen would be denatured so that the syrup itself would cause no reaction (13).

Q&A

What is the substitute for maple syrup?

Stevia syrup, honey alone or with apple juice, molasses, brown sugar, agave nectar, and corn syrup can all be used as a substitute for maple syrup in recipes, though each adds a different flavor.

Can maple syrup be used as a sugar substitute?

My answer is YES because intake of maple syrup has the following health benefits in diabetic person but uses it in moderation as no one knows the long term effect of maple syrup.

1. Maple syrup contains novel oligosaccharide

It is known as maplebiose1 which inhibits invertase, carbohydrate hydrolyzing enzymes (α-glucosidase and α-amylase) and lower plasma glucose concentrations than sucrose alone, without having any effect on the insulin concentration (14). Therefore maple syrup may have a lower glycemic index than sucrose and useful as an alternative sweetener and prevention for inclusion in the diet of diabetic patients (type 2 diabetes) (15).

2. Presence of high antioxidants than refined sugar

Maple syrup contains high antioxidant capacity than refined sugar thus less-processed sugars such as maple syrup is very effective for the treatment of oxidative damage associated disease such as cancer, cardiovascular and other degenerative disorders (16).

What is maple syrup urine disease?

Maple syrup urine disease (MSUD) is an inherited, metabolic disorder in which enzyme function is decrease and disrupts of the normal activity of the branched-chain amino acids with symptoms like poor feeding, vomiting, lack of energy (lethargy), abnormal movements, delayed development and maple syrup odor in the cerumen and urine, which lead to irreversible neurological complications, including stereotypical movements, metabolic decompensation, seizures, coma, and death if left untreated. However dietary management is proving successful for long-term treatment of this disease like branched-chain amino acids free nutrition, management of pregnancy in MSUD patient by frequent monitoring of plasma amino acid concentrations and dietary adjustments to avoid the likely teratogenic effects of elevated maternal leucine plasma concentration.

References

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4334281/
  2. https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/169661/nutrients
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20132041
  4. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/09168451.2015.1042833
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4421064/
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5819752/
  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27071850
  8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4358083/
  9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22147441
  10. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5819732/
  11. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5818990/
  12. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6894227/
  13. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8064082
  14. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6834145/
  15. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24005018/
  16. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19103324

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