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Is maple syrup good for you?

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Is maple syrup really healthy? Registered nutritionist Nicola Shubrook discusses what maple syrup is, the different types to look for and its top health benefits.

What is maple syrup?

Maple syrup is the sap of sugar maple trees and is a natural sweetener. It has a similar consistency to honey, and the majority of maple syrup comes from Canada.
Canadian maple syrup is classified using three different grades as well as colour classification:
  • No. 1: Extra light, light or medium
  • No. 2: Amber
  • No. 3: Dark
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The darker the grade and colour, the richer the flavour.

Nutritional benefits of maple syrup

Being a natural sweetener, maple syrup is still high in sugar but it does tend to have a better nutritional profile.
1 tsp of maple syrup provides:
  • 17 calories
  • 4.4g carbohydrates
  • 6.7mg calcium
  • 1.4mg magnesium
  • 13.9mg potassium
If you are watching your sugar intake, maple syrup also has a slightly better glycaemic profile than table sugar, which means that it has slightly less impact on blood sugar levels when consumed.
Blackberry apple oat bake

What are the top 5 health benefits of maple syrup?

1. It may help reduce cancer growth

Several studies have found that dark-colour maple syrup helps to reduce the growth of certain cancer cells, including colorectal and gastrointestinal cancers.

2. It may help prevent chronic disease

A Canadian study found that maple syrup contains 24 different types of antioxidants. Antioxidants help to protect out cells from damage and oxidative stress, which in turn can help prevent chronic disease.

3. It may help prevent periodontitis

One of the antioxidants found in maple syrup is called quebecol (named after Quebec) and some research has shown that it can work as an agent against periodontitis.
Maple bacon pancakes

4. It may help support healthy digestion

Despite its sugar content, maple syrup has been found to contain inulin, a dietary fibre that has been linked to a healthy digestive system and microbiome.

5. It may help optimise cholesterol levels

A 2019 animal study found the polyphenols found in maple syrup helps to reduce LDL cholesterol. More research is needed to see if this would have the same effect on humans.

Healthy maple syrup recipes


This article was published on 22 November 2021.

Nicola Shubrook is a nutritional therapist and works with both private clients and the corporate sector. She is an accredited member of the British Association for Nutrition and Lifestyle Medicine (BANT) and the Complementary & Natural Healthcare Council (CNHC). Find out more at urbanwellness.co.uk.

All health content on bbcgoodfood.com is provided for general information only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the medical advice of your own doctor or any other healthcare professional. If you have any concerns about your general health, you should contact your local healthcare provider. See our website terms and conditions for more information.

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