I grew up tapping maple trees. The sap would be boiled down in the greenhouse. We would often "sample" the sap as it evaporated and became more concentrated while we worked transplanting the seedlings. Oh, the smell of the rich soil combined with the sweet sap. Those were the days. Warm and cozy next to the wood stove, but cold outside, just waiting for spring to burst! Sunday morning breakfast with pancakes and homemade maple syrup. Sooo good.
Nowadays you have to be careful about what you use for syrup. Most people buy whatever off the shelf at the grocery store. Many products are "maple flavored syrup" meaning there is zero actual maple anything in it. They use highly refined and processed high fructose corn syrup as the first ingredient.
Let's take a look:
Pure Maple Syrup ingredients: PURE MAPLE SYRUP.
A popular brand of maple flavored syrup ingredients: HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP, CORN SYRUP, WATER, SALT, CELLULOSE GUM, MOLASSES, NATURAL AND ARTIFICIAL FLAVOR (LACTIC ACID), SODIUM HEXAMETAPHOSPHATE, SODIUM BENZOATE AND POTASSIUM SORBATE (PRESERVATIVES), CARAMEL COLOR, CITRIC ACID
Which one do you think tastes better?
OK, now let's cover the nitty gritty, the nutrient content of each. This is why when I work with my clients I try to impress upon them the importance of REAL WHOLE foods.
While the Pure Maple Syrup does have calories, it has important nutrients as well. (BONUS, but shhhh don't tell your kids). Maple syrup is a great source of manganese providing about 2.41 mg/serving or 104% of the daily recommended value (DRV). Manganese is an essential cofactor in a number of enzymes for energy production and is required for superoxide dismutase (a key oxidative enzyme) which disarms free radicals produced within the mitochondria. (mitochondria are the energy production factories within our cells). It is also an excellent source of riboflavin with 81% of the DRV, and has zinc, potassium and magnesium.
Our alternative manufactured pancake syrup has no nutritional value with the nutrient label only providing the calories per serving. These are empty calories. Empty calories things that taste good, but don't provide any nutritional value and only make blood sugar spike and add to the toxicity of the body with all the artificial ingredients and preservatives. Ingredients like corn syrup are one of the most contaminated with glyphosate. This is an herbicide used to treat many crops including corn. You may find this article interesting: (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4392553/ ) as it explains how manganese is depleted by glyphosate, (so quite the opposite of natural maple syrup that has 104% of the daily recommended amount). Use of this ingredient in processed food only leads to a nutrient depletion and degradation of the microbiome, which can lead to illness and disease.
In addition to the nutrients in Pure Maple Syrup, it also contains antioxidants that help prevent certain types of cell damage. Antioxidants are helpful in fighting against the oxidative stress that contributes to conditions like cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease.
Natural sweeteners are well known to have higher antioxidant activity than refined sweeteners or even worse produce oxidative damage as in synthetic sweeteners.
So next time you make pancakes for Sunday morning breakfast, reach for the good stuff. Another example of "a calorie is NOT just a calorie" and why what you put in your body matters.