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May 5, 2015 at 9:03 AMComments: 2 Faves: 2

7 Medicinal Benefits of Maple Syrup

By Jeffrey VanWingen M.D. More Blogs by This Author

It's late spring here in Michigan. Like many northern states, the sap flows in torrents from maple trees earlier in the spring and begins the extensive process of boiling and evaporating that occurs in the "sugar houses" that dot the landscape. Soon, that golden goodness will be available to enjoy on our morning pancakes and waffles. Turns out though, maple has more to offer than the sweet taste we all love.

While super rich in sugar and high in carbs, there are health benefits that might encourage you to enjoy this treat a bit more.

The Medicinal Uses of Maple Syrup

Immune Boosting: Maple syrup is rich in substances called polyphenols which are plant-based antioxidants. Antioxidants help to give our immune system a boost and fight free radicals which are implicated in some cancers.

Skin Beautifying: Used topically on the skin, these antioxidants can help to repair skin damage and prevent wrinkles.

A Healthier Sweetener: Maple syrup is popular as a sugar substitute. It offers a more natural alternative than heavily refined sugar.

Digestive Aid: Some substances in maple syrup have been shown to slow the breakdown of carbohydrates in the digestive system. This may aid in the digestive process.

Better Blood Sugar Balance: The glycemic index of maple syrup is 54 compared to table sugar at 65. This means that maple sugar raises blood glucose less and slower than table sugar.

Infection-Fighting: Maple syrup contains high amounts of zinc and manganese. Both of these nutrients have been shown to boost the immune system and reduce the risk of infection.

Improve Antibiotic Efficiency: Yet more encouraging news has also emerged on the infection-fighting potential of maple syrup. Researchers from McGill University in Canada recently reported that an concentrated extract from maple syrup gave antibiotics a boost in treating difficult infections. These synergistic effects are thought to be due to a hindering bacterial genes which drive antibiotic resistance and potency.

A Word of Caution...

While all of these benefits sound great, but they may be a bit "sugar coated." Let's face it -maple syrup contains a lot of carbohydrates and calories. Antioxidants and nutrients are better obtained via whole foods such as fruits and vegetables. Furthermore, when buying maple syrup beware of cheaper substitutions - maple-flavored corn syrup. Be sure to read the label and make sure that maple syrup is the only ingredient.

Maple syrup tastes great and it may offer some benefits to our health. Be conscious, however, of the significant carbohydrates and calories which it also contains.

Live, and live well!

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  • I don't consume a lot of any type of sweetener, but maple syrup is my sweetener of choice when I do! Fits right into my plant-based whole-foods diet.

    Mostly, I use it in my own hot cereal mix with plain oats and a pre-cooked (by myself in a big batch for ready usage) blend of different sorts of whole grain rice, wheat berries, and amaranth. The mix of textures is way more enjoyable than just plain old oatmeal in my book. Cook with almond milk and add in plenty of fresh berries (blueberries are my favorite) and sliced almonds. Sweeten with maple syrup. Mmmm... :)

  • I love the sweet taste.

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