Truth be known, I consider myself a maple syrup snob—or maybe I should say “connoisseur.” Years of enjoying Vermont winter skiing with our kids included gathering around the breakfast table for the comforting treat of warm fluffy pancakes hot off the griddle, topped with fresh local maple syrup.
My Vermont neighbors tapped their own maple trees and shared quarts of their pure syrup with us. When I realized how much sap is boiled down to make just one quart of real maple syrup, I appreciate the labor of love it is for those who continue the arduous task. As a consequence, I snub all commercially made maple syrups.
You can also imagine how pleasantly surprised I was to discover maple syrup has tremendous health perks. Lead researcher Navrinda Seerem of the University of Rhode Island (URI), announced to the American Chemical Society Conference in San Francisco that his team identified 13 new compounds in Canadian maple syrup that improve health.
This “liquid gold” is rich in:
- Polyphenols that may have cancer-fighting properties, which are even more effective than blueberries, broccoli, carrots and tomatoes. In fact, Seerem and his team reported that pure maple syrup can slow the growth of cancerous cells in the prostate and lungs substantially. Plus it can help to slow the growth of breast, colon, and brain cancers to a lesser degree.
- Abscisic acid, a phytohormone known to increase the sensitivity of fat cells to insulin. Who would have thought this simple sugar compound could contain a potent weapon against metabolic syndrome and diabetes?
- Plus, maple syrup contains manganese, zinc, and 15 times more calcium than honey.
The only downside to maple syrup is that many people don’t know if their syrup is the “real deal.” The pure maple syrup I get in Vermont has a dark, rich color and thick consistency. Commercially produced syrups are often less reliable.
You want to avoid syrups where the label reads "maple-flavored;" they probably contain additional ingredients. You also want to pass on pancake, waffle, or table syrups which are often nothing more than high fructose corn syrup with added maple flavoring. In fact, pure maple syrup may be one thing you want to source from local producers, wherever you live. Many health food stores also carry pure maple syrup.
Now that I know how healthy it is (even though it is a sugar that I need to consume conscientiously), I can enjoy drizzling a half teaspoon of maple syrup (not enough to illicit an insulin response) over steel cut oatmeal, atop yogurt, as well as in baked apple dishes and homemade salad dressings. Hmm… where else can I sneak in a tad more?
Now it’s your turn: What’s your favorite way to eat maple syrup?