A study by the University of Laval published last autumn shows that maple syrup contains around five times more polyphenols than honey, corn syrup or brown rice syrup. Polyphenols are antioxidants which help to reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular disease. Although the study was carried out on animals, its results confirm those of other work showing that maple syrup contains around fifty elements which are beneficial to health.

The study on the nutraceutical potential of maple syrup and the discovery in the sap and the syrup, of chemicals with beneficial properties for health have been proven in recent areas of research. Recent data indicates the presence in maple sap of phenolic composites and flavonoids. Some of these compounds are recognised to have a powerful antioxidant effect. Phenolic compounds are also recognised as having organoleptic properties.

Phenolic compounds. Analysis and identification of phenolic compounds and flavonoids in maple sap and syrup were carried out by a team of researchers from McGill University. In the extracts analysed, they found compounds such as catechin, p-coumaric acid as well as flavonol derivatives. The results showed a slight increase in the level of phenolic compounds during the flow season. Certain compounds identified have antioxidant properties. A recent study published in 2002 has just confirmed this. In this study, the anti-mutagenic power of maple products was also evaluated. The results show clearly that, in lab conditions, phenolic compounds extracted from maple sap and syrup have an antioxidant activity as well as an anti-mutagenic potential. These effects vary during the flow season. The antioxidant activity of phenolic compounds extracted from maple syrup is at its highest in the mid-season and is not linked to the total amount of compounds found in the extract. As for the anti-mutagenic potential, the results demonstrate that this effect depends on the chemical under study. It would seem that the anti-mutagenic activity of certain compounds in maple syrup have superior value to that of the same compounds in the sap. This could be attributed to new anti-mutagenic compounds formed while processing the sap into syrup. As with the antioxidant activity, anti-mutagenic potential may vary over the harvest period.


Nutritional Quality.

Maple syrup is 68% carbohydrate, 80% of which is sucrose. The other sugars found in this product are glucose and fructose. Sucrose is a disaccharide which is also the main carbohydrate found in table sugar. Glucose and fructose are two simple sugars which do not require digestion and are easily absorbed by the digestive system. Fructose has a superior sweetening power to other sugars.

There is a variety of sweetening agents on the market: granulated sugar, brown sugar, honey, table syrup and maple syrup. Besides their special flavour, their nutritional quality is also different. When it comes to its energy content, a 15ml portion of maple syrup contains fewer calories than the same amount of honey or table syrup. Indeed, maple syrup is one of the least calorific sweetening agents. From a nutritional viewpoint, granulated sugar contains only sucrose and has no nutritional value. Maple syrup, on the other hand, provides many essential minerals (manganese, calcium, potassium, iron, zinc, magnesium) compared with honey which only contains a small amount of potassium.

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Source of minerals?

Minerals are important in our bodies, as a continued supply of them is needed for children to grow, for adults to maintain a healthy weight, for reproduction and they also play a part in metabolic processes. On average, maple syrup contains 35 and 21 mg/tbsp of potassium and calcium respectively. The syrup also contains traces of iron, phosphorus, manganese and magnesium. The following table shows the percentage of our daily mineral and vitamin requirements that 60ml of maple syrup can provide.


Maple syrup is an excellent source of manganese. The manganese acts as a co-factor of several enzymes which facilitate a dozen different metabolic processes. It is also involved in protection against the damage caused by free radicals.

Manganese may be a small mineral, but it bestows considerable health benefits! Indeed, manganese facilitates absorption of carbohydrates and protein in food. It also contributes to solidity and health of bones. Experts recommend that manganese is ingested as part of your normal diet rather than in supplements. A single teaspoon of maple syrup provides 15% of the recommended daily dose of this important nutritive element.

Maple syrup is a source of zinc. Zinc is involved in immune responses, the fabrication of genetic material, the sense of taste, scarring and foetal development. Zinc also interacts with sex and thyroid hormones as well as insulin.