Some preliminary scientific data suggests that maple syrup may offer some health benefits. What are the real facts?
Maple syrup—a virtuous delight?
Who has never had a twinge of remorse after having indulged in one of Canada’s favourite guilty pleasures—maple syrup? Its velvety sweet taste is a source of pure joy for many people. This very sweet food is undisputedly good for the soul, but can as much be said for health? That is a question some researches wished to answer.
The studies conducted until now have been done in vitro (in test tubes) or in healthy rats. Therefore, it would be risky to draw any conclusions at this time. In light of these researchers’ findings, it is the minerals and substances acting as powerful antioxidants that potentially make maple syrup beneficial. More specifically, it is the polyphenols, abscisic acid, and phaseic acid, among others, that make it appealing.
A "good" sugar?
It is well-known that added sugar and very sweet foods are harmful to health, but some are more harmful than others. Excessive consumption of sugar contributes to the onset of several diseases such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and certain cancers. That is why some people are concerned, and rightly so, about their sugar consumption. For instance, individuals living with diabetes must pay particular attention to sugar to prevent a blood glucose imbalance (level of sugar in the blood).
It would seem that maple syrup has a low glycemic index compared to other sugar sources. Therefore, it could be less likely to raise blood glucose, which would make it a wiser choice for people with diabetes. It has also been suggested that it could have beneficial effects on the prevention of type 2 diabetes. However, this remains to be confirmed. Although available data is promising, it would be unwise to draw any hasty conclusions. Studies conducted on animals and humans will be needed to shed more light on the subject.
Until more is known about the real effects of maple syrup, good or bad, it is important to remember that it is a very sweet food. Thus, moderation is still advised for the time being!
Remember that your pharmacist is always there to help and to answer your questions concerning any health-related issues!