Even though maple syrup does contain some nutrients and antioxidants, it is also very high in sugar. Calorie for calorie (and sugar gram for sugar gram), maple syrup is a very poor source of nutrients compared to “real” foods like vegetables, fruits and unprocessed animal foods.
Replacing refined sugar with pure, quality maple syrup is likely to yield a net health benefit, but adding it to your diet will just make things worse. Maple syrup is a “less bad” version of sugar… kind of like honey and coconut sugar. That does NOT make it healthy.
Same as with all sugar-based sweeteners, if you’re going to eat it, make sure to do so in moderation only.
It Contains Some Vitamins and Minerals, But is Also High in Sugar
The main thing that sets maple syrup apart from refined sugar, is the fact that it also contains some minerals and antioxidants.
100 grams of maple syrup contains:
- Calcium: 7% of the RDA.
- Potassium: 6% of the RDA.
- Iron: 7% of the RDA.
- Zinc: 28% of the RDA.
- Manganese: 165% of the RDA.
True, maple syrup does contain a decent amount of some minerals, especially manganese and zinc, but keep in mind that it also contains a whole bunch of sugar.
Maple syrup is about 2/3rds sucrose (as in table sugar) and a 100 grams of it therefore supply around 67 grams of sugar. Really… sugar can be seriously harmful. Consumed in excess, it is believed to be among the leading causes of some of the world’s biggest health problems, including obesity, type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
The fact that maple syrup contains some minerals is a very poor reason to eat it, given the high sugar content. Most people are already eating way too much sugar. The best way to get these minerals is to eat real foods. If you eat a balanced diet of plants and animals, then your chances of lacking any of these minerals is very low.
But if you’re going to eat a sugar-based sweetener anyway, then replacing refined sugar in recipes with an identical amount of maple syrup will cut the total sugar content by a third.
The glycemic index of maple syrup seems to be around 54, compared to table sugar which has a glycemic index of around 65.
This is a good thing and implies that maple syrup raises blood sugar slower than regular sugar.