You may notice that in a lot of my recipes I will use maple syrup as the alternative to sugar for sweetness. This is not on accident. Maple syrup has a ton of health benefits that many people don’t realize exist. As a bonus it also tastes delicious and works really well in just about any type of recipe.
For years I’ve been trying to convince people of the potential harms of artificial sugars like sucralose (Splenda) and aspartame (Equal). I’d advise anyone against putting anything artificial in their body! Artificial sweeteners are tied to weight gain, short term memory loss, depression, anxiety and learning disabilities. And then along came stevia, a beautiful naturally sweet plant that is zero calories and perfectly safe, but stevia tends to have a different taste than sugar and it can be difficult to replace sugar with stevia because the level of sweetness per ounce is much higher in stevia than sugar. It generally takes a bit of experimenting.
The silver lining of this is that, it doesn’t have to be zero calorie to be healthy. The obsession with calorie counting in this day and age is unreal and unfounded. The truth is your body metabolizes different types of calories differently based on their makeup and the best thing you can do if you want to be healthy and happy is to focus on putting nutrients into your body instead of depriving your body of calories (and in turn, lots of nutrients to help it function). Sugar is what your body literally runs on. You need it to function, but you need to choose the right sugars for your body.
Maple syrup should be one of them and heres why:
- It’s is lower on the glycemic index than refined cane sugar. This means that maple syrup won’t affect you (or your child’s) blood sugar at the same rate as refined sugar. The energy from the sugar will be more spread out without the crash (a smaller slope).
- Nutrients! Maple syrup contains significant amounts of manganese, zinc, calcium, potassium, iron and magnesium. Sugar literally has none of these.
- It contains lots of antioxidants. These are important for reducing free radical damage that contributes to the formation of those chronic diseases popping up everywhere including diseases mostly associated with aging such as arthritis and heart disease.
- Helps with skin health. Because of it’s anti-inflammatory properties it can help with skin inflammation, redness, dryness and blemishes! You can even make a spa day mask out of it!
- Can help with digestion. Digestion problems are sweeping the nation because for years we were ingesting massive amounts of refined sugar without realizing it can cause problems in the gut like IBS or leaky gut syndrome. If you are having problems with this try swapping out your sugar with maple syrup and you will see huge improvement.
Make sure when you go to the grocery store to buy your maple syrup that what you are getting is, indeed, maple syrup. There are many maple syrup “flavored” syrups out there that disguise themselves as the real deal. Look for the bottle to say “pure maple syrup” and check the ingredient list to make sure that is the only ingredient. If you can find it, get grade B syrup which will be darker and contain more nutrients and antioxidants but if you can only find grade A, don’t worry, you are still benefitting. If you are using maple syrup in recipes for baking the general rule is 1:1 but reduce the liquid in the recipe (water, oil etc.) by 1/2 a cup.
Remember that though this may seem like a great excuse to eat cake every day (right?) it’s still super important to balance your diet between carbs, proteins and fats. Your body needs all three and we are notorious in America about making one or the other the problem. If you currently have diabetes or other health problems please seek guidance from your doctor. Many times this means you may have different nutritional rules. Use this as a tool to add to your life; Add nutrients, add health, add happiness, add life.