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Mmmm, yum! There is nothing better on your waffles or pancakes to make them sweet than the caramel tasting the goodness of maple syrup. Considered a healthy alternative to sugar and honey, you can even enjoy maple syrup without the guilt. Or can you? Is maple syrup actually as healthy as you think it is?Maple Syrup is Natural and UnprocessedWhen compared to highly processed refined sugar, then yes, maple syrup is certainly a healthier alternative. It is 100% natural, pure, and free of any colouring or additives. It is obtained by tapping the sap of the maple tree in a simple, two-step process. The less processed and more natural a product is, the healthier it is, so the simplicity of obtaining maple syrup is a plus.Maple Syrup Contains Vitamins and MineralsMaple syrup also contains a range of essential vitamins and minerals in fairly good levels. It has calcium, potassium, magnesium, copper, and iron in moderate levels and is very high in zinc, which is great for boosting your immune function, and manganese, which is essential for healthy skin and strong bones. Vitamins such as thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, and B6 are also found in maple syrup.This makes maple syrup more nutritious than refined sugar which has no nutritional value. Another plus is that maple syrup is also very low in saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium.Maple Syrup Contains AntioxidantsAntioxidants are vitamins and nutrients that protect our cells from damage caused by free radicals. Common health conditions related to free radicals include cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, and degenerative disorders. Eating foods which are high in antioxidants may help in delaying or preventing such free radical-induced illnesses. And the good news is that pure maple syrup contains many active antioxidant elements.In fact, studies have found that maple syrup contains up to 54 different antioxidant substances, especially in the darker B-Grade varieties. Several of these antioxidants are known to have anti-cancer and anti-bacterial properties, another plus for maple syrup lovers.However, you can also find the same antioxidants in berries, fruits and nuts, and these foods may be more satisfying and nutritious overall than only gorging on maple syrup for your antioxidant intake.Maple Syrup Has a High Sugar ContentDespite many of the positive elements, a large portion of the calories from maple syrup comes from sugar in the form of sucrose. In fact, 100 grams of maple syrup contains 67 grams of sugar! This means that it can cause spikes in blood sugar levels that can affect the way your body metabolises insulin, which can then lead to other serious health problems such as diabetes. So, even though maple syrup is natural, this high sugar content means that the negative effects of consuming sugar are still present.However, if you do want to sweeten your food with a refined sugar alternative, choosing to do so using maple syrup will mean that you are still using a third less sugar than if you used regular sugar. Maple syrup also has a lower glycemic load than refined sugar, so the spikes in blood sugar levels will not be as bad as if you are consuming refined sugar.Choose Your Maple Syrup WiselyUnfortunately, not all maple syrup is the same. Food manufacturers may try and sell syrup that is not pure, or natural. You want to make sure the maple syrup you are consuming is not maple-flavoured syrup which is essential just sugar flavoured to taste like the real maple syrup which is obtained from maple trees. Be sure to read your labels carefully to make sure you are consuming the real deal!A Better Way to Sweeten Your Food than Refined SugarThe bottom line is, that when it comes to sweetening foods there is no doubt that choosing a clean option like pure maple syrup is better than choosing refined sugar that contains no nutritional value. Maple syrup tastes good and contains valuable nutrients and antioxidants. However, it should not be considered a health food due to its high sugar content and it should be consumed in moderate amounts, especially if you are concerned about your overall health.
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