The World's Healthiest Foods
Maple syrup

When you want to satisfy your sweet tooth, don’t forget to consider using maple syrup which contains fewer calories and a higher concentration of minerals than honey. It is available throughout the year in your local supermarket.

Maple syrup is one of the many wonders of the world. This viscous amber liquid with its characteristic earthy sweet taste is made from the sap of the sugar, black or red maple tree. The process of creating maple syrup begins with tapping (piercing) the tree, which allows the sap to run out freely. The sap is clear and almost tasteless and very low in sugar content when it is first tapped. It is then boiled to evaporate the water producing syrup with the characteristic flavor and color of maple syrup and sugar content of 60%.

 


Health Benefits

Maple syrup is sweet - and we’re not just talking flavor. Maple syrup, as an excellent source of manganese and a good source of zinc, can also be sweet for your health.

Sweeten Your Antioxidant Defenses

The trace mineral manganese is an essential cofactor in a number of enzymes important in energy production and antioxidant defenses. For example, the key oxidative enzyme superoxide dismutase, which disarms free radicals produced within the mitochondria (the energy production factories within our cells), requires manganese. One ounce of maple syrup supplies 22.0% of the daily value for this very important trace mineral.

Be Sweet to Your Heart with Maple Syrup

Maple syrup is a good sweetener to use if you are trying to protect the health of your heart. The zinc supplied by maple syrup, in addition to acting as an antioxidant, has other functions that can decrease the progression of atherosclerosis. Zinc is needed for the proper function of endothelial cells and helps to prevent the endothelial damage caused by oxidized LDL cholesterol and other oxidized fats. (The endothelium is the inner lining of blood vessels.) Endothelial membranes low in zinc are much more prone to injury. Additionally, studies have found that in adults deficient in manganese, the other trace mineral amply supplied in maple syrup, the level of HDL (the "good" cholesterol) is decreased.

Sweet Support for Your Immune System

Zinc and manganese are important allies in the immune system. Many types of immune cells appear to depend upon zinc for optimal function. Particularly in children, researchers have studied the effects of zinc deficiency (and zinc supplementation) on their immune response and their number of white blood cells, including specific studies on T lymphocytes, macrophages, and B cells (all types of white blood cells important for immune defenses). In these studies, zinc deficiency has been shown to compromise numbers of white blood cell and immune response, while zinc supplementation has been shown to restore conditions to normal. In addition to the role played by zinc, the manganese in maple syrup is important since, as a component of the antioxidant SOD, it helps lessen inflammation, thus supporting healing. In addition, manganese may also act as an immunostimulant.

Real Healthy Men Use Maple Syrup

Maple syrup may help to support reproductive health and provides special benefits for men. Zinc is concentrated more highly in the prostate than in any other human tissue, and low levels of zinc in this gland relate to a higher risk for prostate cancer. In fact, zinc is a mineral used therapeutically by healthcare practitioners to help reduce prostate size. Manganese may also play a role in supporting men’s health since, as a catalyst in the synthesis of fatty acids and cholesterol, it also participates in the production of sex hormones, thus helping to maintain reproductive health.

Description

Maple syrup is one of the many wonders of the world. This viscous amber liquid with its characteristic earthy sweet taste is made from the sap of either the sugar, black or red maple tree. The process of creating maple syrup begins with tapping (piercing) the tree, which allows the sap to run out freely. The collected clear, almost tasteless sap is then condensed by boiling, a process that helps to concentrate its initial single digit sugar content to more than 60%. This process also creates the characteristic flavor and deep color of the syrup.

The scientific name for the sugar maple tree, from which maple syrup is obtained, is Acer saccharum.

History

The process of making maple syrup is an age-old tradition of the North American Indians, who used it both as a food and as a medicine. They would make incisions into trees with their tomohawks and use birch barks to collect the sap. The sap would be condensed into syrup by evaporating the excess water using one of two methods: plunging hot stones into the sap or the nightly freezing of the sap, following by the morning removal of the frozen water layer.

When the settlers came to North America, they were fascinated by this traditional process and in awe of the delicious, natural sweetener it produced. They developed other methods to reduce the syrup, using iron drill bits to tap the trees and then boiling the sap in the metal kettles in which it was collected.

Maple syrup was the main sweetener used by the colonists since sugar from the West Indies was highly taxed and very expensive. As sugar became cheaper to produce, it began to replace maple syrup as a relied upon sweetener. In fact, maple syrup production is approximately one-fifth of what it was in the beginning of the 20th century.

Maple syrup-producing trees are only found in select regions of North America. The main producers of maple syrup are New York, Vermont, and in Canada, Quebec.

How to Select and Store

How to Enjoy

For some of our favorite recipes, click Recipes.

A Few Quick Serving Ideas:

Maple syrup, used in place of table sugar as a sweetener, gives tea and coffee a unique taste.

Pour some maple syrup on oatmeal topped with walnuts and raisins.

Add maple syrup and cinnamon to puréed cooked sweet potatoes.

Combine maple syrup with orange juice and tamari and use as a marinade for baked tofu or tempeh.

Spread peanut butter on a piece of whole wheat toast, top with sliced bananas and then drizzle maple syrup on top for a sweet, gooey treat.

Safety

Maple syrup is not a commonly allergenic food, is not included in the list of 20 foods that most frequently contain pesticide residues, and is also not known to contain goitrogens, oxalates, or purines.

Nutritional Profile

Introduction to Food Rating System Chart

The following chart shows the nutrients for which this food is either an excellent, very good or good source. Next to the nutrient name you will find the following information: the amount of the nutrient that is included in the noted serving of this food; the %Daily Value (DV) that that amount represents (similar to other information presented in the website, this DV is calculated for 25-50 year old healthy woman); the nutrient density rating; and, the food's World's Healthiest Foods Rating. Underneath the chart is a table that summarizes how the ratings were devised. For more detailed information on our Food and Recipe Rating System, please click here.

 

Maple Syrup
2.00 tsp
34.93 calories
Nutrient Amount DV
(%)
Nutrient
Density
World's Healthiest
Foods Rating
manganese 0.44 mg 22.0 11.3 excellent
zinc 0.55 mg 3.7 1.9 good
World's Healthiest
Foods Rating
Rule
excellent DV>=75% OR Density>=7.6 AND DV>=10%
very good DV>=50% OR Density>=3.4 AND DV>=5%
good DV>=25% OR Density>=1.5 AND DV>=2.5%

References

  • Ensminger AH, Ensminger, ME, Kondale JE, Robson JRK. Foods & Nutriton Encyclopedia. Pegus Press, Clovis, California.
  • Ensminger AH, Esminger M. K. J. e. al. Food for Health: A Nutrition Encyclopedia. Clovis, California: Pegus Press; 1986.
  • Fortin, Francois, Editorial Director. The Visual Foods Encyclopedia. Macmillan, New York.
  • Wood, Rebecca. The Whole Foods Encyclopedia. New York, NY: Prentice-Hall Press; 1988.

This page was updated on: 2004-11-20 15:04:10
© 2002 The George Mateljan Foundation