Have You Had Your Maple Syrup Today?

Antioxidant Rich Tree Sap Being Harvested

Good news, maple syrup is a health food!

Or at least a new study, funded by Canadian maple syrup producers, has found some nifty antioxidants in their delicious and natural product. Antioxidants protect the body from damage caused by free radicals, which makes you less vulnerable to coronary artery disease, cancers, macular degeneration, Alzheimer’s, arthritis and general ageing.

The news broke when a University of Rhode Island plant scientist named Navinda Seeram announced at an American Chemical Society conference in San Francisco that he has discovered 13 new compounds “linked with human health” in maple syrup.

Among the previously unidentified chemicals were phenolics believed to have “anti-cancer” properties. The trees appear to make the chemicals as part of their immune response to the wounds made to tap the syrup, and they act to boost our immunity when we eat them. The researchers also think the trees exposure to sun causes them to produce more antioxidants.

Real Maple also is high in manganese and zinc, both of which are missing in refined sweeteners. Manganese and Zinc also qualify as solid antioxidants, and are necessary for all kinds of crucial processes in the body.

This is great news, and I heartily recommend using maple instead of white sugar. The thing is, there are also minerals and nutrients and antioxidants in other unrefined sweeteners. Take a look at real unrefined dried cane juice, called Sucanat.

Nutritional Analysis of Sucanat:

approximately one cup

* water…………………………………..2.7g
* calories………………………………..570g
* carbohydrate………………………..135.g
* fat………………………………………..0g
* sodium……………………………….0.5mg
* potassium…………………………1,125mg
* vitamin A……………………………1600IU
* thiamin (B1)………………………..0.21mg
* riboflavin (B2)……………………..0.21mg
* niacin……………………………….0.20mg
* calcium………………………………165mg
* iron……………………………………6.5mg
* vitamin B6………………………….0.60mg
* magnesium………………………….127mg
* zinc…………………………………..2.3mg
* copper……………………………….0.3mg
* pantothenic acid……………………1.8mg
* chromium……………………………40mcg
* phosphorus…………………………..48mg

Source: USDA Handbook of Nutrient Content of Foods

A quick google found a study of cane juice done in 2006 that identified some antioxidants, there, too. They included flavones and phenolic acids, just like the maple syrup. The point here is that whole, real foods have antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, and it is when they get processed and stripped down, they become empty calories.

There have always been debates about the value of certain sweeteners, as we sweetness craving animals try to find a way to eat treats and still be virtuous. Whole sweeteners are always better, because they have the nutrients and antioxidants, and are less concentrated. The bottom line is that we need to eat moderate amounts of sweets, and preferably sweets made with natural sweeteners like maple, sucanat, agave, brown rice syrup, fruit sweeteners and raw honey.

And for pancakes? Pure maple syrup is the best. Try simmering fresh or frozen fruit in your maple syrup, anything from apples to mangoes, then pouring the warm, delicious mixture over pancakes or oatmeal.

Mmm, all those tasty antioxidant rich real foods, how can you go wrong?
Blueberry Maple Syrup

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