Maple syrup: Health for your body drip by drip

Pouring maple syrup on waffles and pancakes just doesn’t stop there. You can bake or cook and marinate or top your foods with the sticky syrup. Maple syrup doesn’t only taste good; it also plays a key role in your health.

In addition to containing a host of minerals and vitamin B2, researchers from the University of Rhode Island have identified 54 compounds in pure maple syrup with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. These compounds help fight off cancer, bacterial illnesses, metabolic syndrome and diabetes.

Antioxidants are chemicals that protect your cells from damage caused by free radicals. Your body makes antioxidants, but it also relies on food to obtain the right amount needed to ward off disease and stay healthy. Some antioxidants identified in maple syrup have the same properties as the antioxidants found in berries, tomatoes, green tea, whole wheat, flax seeds and red wine.

When you buy maple syrup, read the label. It should indicate: 100% pure maple syrup produced from pure sugar maple sap. High-fructose commercial syrups with maple flavouring may cost less, but these syrups are synthetic and have no nutritional value. There are different Grades of maple syrup. The darker Grade B maple syrups are more nutrient dense and have more active antioxidants than the lighter Grade A syrups.

Pure maple syrup is healthier than white sugar. You can substitute sugar or sweeteners with maple syrup in your diet. However, keep in mind that pure maple syrup is liquid sugar and a carbohydrate. Therefore, it shouldn’t be used as a treatment for diabetes. When used with carbohydrate counting and glucose monitoring, small amounts of maple syrup can be safely incorporated in a diabetic diet.

Maple syrup was the traditional food and medicine used by North American Native Indians. It’s now a leading cocktail for human health. From delicious desserts to savory suppers, there are many ways to include maple syrup in your diet. Experiment with some recipes and you’ll be amazed with your cooking results.

Here’s a simple vinaigrette recipe made with maple syrup.

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons pure maple syrup (preferably Grade B)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • a pinch of fresh thyme (optional)
  • sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Whisk together the ingredients and add to your favourite salad. Double or triple the ingredients if need be. Enjoy!

Photo courtesy of: Keith Robinson

References

Nahar, P.; Driscoll, M.; Li, L.; Slitt, A.L.; Seeram, N.P. Phenolic mediated anti-inflammatory effects of a maple syrup extract against RAW264.7 macrophages, Journal of Functional Foods, 2013, in press.

Yuan, T.; Li, L.; Zhang, Y.; Seeram, N.P. Pasteurized and sterilized maple sap as functional beverages: Chemical composition and antioxidant activities. Journal of Functional Foods, 2013, in press.

González-Sarrías, A.; Ma, H.; Edmonds, M.E.; Seeram, N.P. Maple polyphenols, ginnalins A-C, induce S- and G2/M-cell cycle arrest in colon and breast cancer cells mediated by decreasing cyclins A and D1 levels. Food Chemistry, 2013, 136, 636-642.

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Julie Zimmer

Julie has extensive experience in nursing practice and education in a wide range of fields from intensive/coronary care, to medical-surgical to community and public health. Julie has Bachelor Degrees in Psychology and Nursing, and a Master’s Degree in Community Health Nursing Education. She has taught in faculties of nursing and in various communities in Toronto, Canada and in Geneva, Switzerland, and is a consultant to the International Council of Nurses (ICN). Julie also has years of experience teaching English as a foreign language (EFL) in addition to coordinating an English department in a Swiss private school.

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