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What's the Story With Maple Syrup?

Posted Dec 18 2008 8:14pm

What's the story with maple syrup? Evidently, inquiring, health-minded folks want to know.

Specifically, after I offered maple-syrup-drinking actress Rachel McAdams advice from some experts, my blogging colleague Mark over at Calorie Lab played devil's advocate recently and posted the following comment:

"This page names maple syrup as one of the "worlds healthiest foods," rich in manganese, zinc, and antioxidants: (I'm running for cover.)"

Mark, no need to run for cover! I welcome informed discussions, and I'm open to contrary opinions (as long as people are polite about it).

In fact, as I recently posted, I like it when readers and fellow bloggers keep me on my toes, as Sean Gallagher puts it in his astute piece, In Defense of Citizen Journalism.

To get you an answer, I turned to two folks.

First we'll turn to nutritionist Jonny Bowden, M.A. C.N., C.N.S., author of Living the Low Carb Life and "Weight Loss Coach" for e-Diets.com and iVillage.com.

"I would certainly not call it one of the world's healthiest foods, nor do I know anyone in any tradition who would, including people like Ayruvedic physicians and traditional Oriental Medicine practitioners, who have no problem with carbs.

"But the organic B grade maple syrup, which has been less processed than the A, does have some nutrients. But it's still a sugar and behaves like sugar in the body, for those who need to be aware of that. Nutritionally, though, it beats the white stuff."

And now we'll hear from a food-industry insider:

"In moderation, maple syrup is OK. But it's hard to use for anything other than sweetening pancakes or beverages.  It will give anything a maple flavor.

"It is at least 85% SUCROSE by weight of available sacchardies in the 71% solids being typically consumed. The rest is water. The sucrose IS metabolized, just like white sugar.

"As to antioxidants and health benefit claimed, please -- this is not true. The stuff is BOILED at over 212 degrees F, for very long periods of time -- and closer to 230 degrees F -- to thicken after getting from the trees. There are no reasonable or even detectable nutrients, vitamins or bioavaialble minerals left in it. The likelihood is that the zinc measured is from the sap tins and boiling process containers, not the tree.

"Another problem is many cheaper syrups are illegally cut with corn syrup or HFCS to boost profit.  Or in the case of maple syrup, Aunt Jemima (as an example), are now branded only as pancake syrup, and have little, if any real maple syrup in them."

Did the Savvy Sugar Sleuths answer your question, Mark?

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