The health benefits of maple syrup include a healthy heart and a healthier immune system. It also has antioxidant properties that protect the body from free radicals.
There are several natural sweeteners that are preferred instead of the chemically prepared sugar which is common in most houses. There are people who prefer using honey instead of any other natural products of the same type. However, maple syrup is considered to be a better option given its low-calorie count, as compared to honey.
What is Maple Syrup?
Maple syrup is prepared from the sugary sap of the maple tree. The preparation involves a tapping or piercing of tree to obtain this sap. These trees accumulate starch in their roots and trunks, especially in the period that precedes winter. The long accumulation of this starch makes it easy to convert it from the original state to sugar. During the spring season, the sugar rises and mixes with water to form a sap which is ready for collection or harvesting.
Since the sap contains a high water ratio, it has to undergo processing for the water to evaporate, leaving behind the concentrated, thick syrup. This final product is arrived at through a heating process. The entire process does not involve any use of chemical additives, preservatives, or agents. The Native Americans are said to have discovered that sap from maple trees could be processed to make maple syrup.
Nutritional Value of Maple Syrup
The nutrients found in maple syrup include energy, water, protein, fat, carbohydrates, and sugars. In terms of minerals, it contains calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, sodium, potassium, and zinc. Vitamins such as thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, and B6 are also found in this syrup.
Health Benefits of Maple Syrup
Maple syrup is not only tempting and yummy but is also a hoarder of ample health benefits. Let’s take a look at its beneficial effects on our body.
Maple syrup has various antioxidant properties that are essential for healthy living. Antioxidants are important for the body as they neutralize free radicals, which may cause various health ailments. Mitochondria are one of the cells that are responsible for energy production, but during this process, free radicals are produced within the mitochondria. This function requires enzymes that are prone to damage or harm by other microorganisms in the body. It is the function of manganese present in the maple syrup to supply the superoxide dismutase which is an oxidative enzyme. This enzyme helps in disarming the dangerous free radicals that are produced by the mitochondria when performing its normal metabolic functions.
Improves Heart Health
The health benefits of maple syrup also include giving you a healthier heart. It is one of the body’s organs that is susceptible to different kinds of diseases such as stroke, atherosclerosis, and other cardiovascular conditions. Maple syrup contains zinc and its consumption may protect and prevent various cardiovascular disorders. Zinc also enhances the performance of the endothelial cells by protecting them against damage due to the existence of excess cholesterol in addition to other oxidized lipids. The blood vessels are comprised of different components of the endothelial cells, which form the inner lining of these vessels. A low level of zinc exposes the linings to injuries, which in turn can affect the normal functioning of the heart.
Improves Male Reproductive Health
The consumption of maple syrup also helps in maintaining male reproductive health. There are certain minerals such as zinc, in maple syrup, that are useful for a healthy reproductive system, particularly the prostate gland. Reduction in the level of the minerals increases the risk of disorders, such as prostate cancer. This is why it is advisable for men to always try to consume foods that contain the right amount of this mineral. Maple syrup is one such food that is easy to acquire, readily available, and enjoyable as well.
Strengthens Immune System
A lack of zinc and manganese minerals could easily lead to a reduction in the number of white blood cells, which affects the response of the immune system. Supplementing these minerals is the only way known to restore their levels to the proper state. Maple syrup is a good source of both zinc and manganese, which play a key role in strengthening the immune system.
How to Prepare Maple Syrup?
- Step 1: Bring brown and white sugar and water to boil over medium heat.
- Step 2: Reduce the heat and add maple extract and stir the mixture.
- Step 3: Simmer for around 3 minutes and remove from heat.
- Step 4: Store it in a jar and refrigerate for future use.
How to Select and Store Maple Syrup?
Select your maple syrup depending on the purpose you need it for. For using in foods like icecreams and buttermilk pancakes, you will require a light flavored maple syrup, which is golden in color. There is a dark, strong flavored kind also available, which can be used to top waffles. It can also be used in place of chocolate sauce.
Maple syrup is readily available all over the world. Be sure to store it in a cool place before opening, and keep it in the refrigerator after opening. Discard it if you see any mold in the syrup.
So far, Canada is the largest producer of maple syrup followed by the United States. The major advantage is that one does not necessarily have to reside in these areas in order to buy this syrup. It is stocked in stores all over the world.
Uses of Maple Syrup
The use of maple syrup is common and is incorporated into many meals. Therefore, it is considered as a key cooking ingredient in a number of food items.
- It adds flavor to sausages, ice cream, different types of fritters, and fresh fruit, among others.
- It can also be used in pancakes as a topping, as well as on French toast and waffles, which are common delicacies in some parts of America and Europe.
- Due to its flavor and sweetness, it can be used as a sweetener to be used in baked beans, cakes, bread, and granola.
- Wine manufacturers also consider using it in the wine-making process instead of honey.