Maple syrup is by far the healthier choice when choosing between maple syrup and cane sugar for sweetening. This is because cane sugar, or table sugar, contains very little but carbohydrates – and calories. A tablespoon of maple syrup contains 40 calories and a tablespoon of cane sugar contains 50 calories.
Maple syrup and maple sugar contain many more trace minerals than cane sugar. Trace minerals offer important health benefits. Maple syrup has higher levels of trace minerals than cane sugar because cane sugar is much more highly processed than maple syrup. Maple syrup is an excellent source of manganese and a good source of zinc. White sugar contains traces of zinc, copper, iron, manganese, and selenium but in much lower quantities than maple syrup – again due to the fact that white sugar is much more highly processed than maple syrup.
Manganese is a very important factor in the work of enzymes that are involved in energy production and antioxidant defenses. For example, manganese is required for an important enzyme called superoxide dismutase to work to disarm free radicals which are produced in the mitochondria, or energy production parts of our body’s cells.
Manganese is also part of the antioxidant SOD which helps to lessen inflammation in the body. When there is less inflammation healing is faster. It’s also possible that manganese may stimulate the immune system.
Manganese is thought to support men’s reproductive health as it helps in the synthesis of cholesterol and fatty acids which aid in the production of male sex hormones.
Eating one ounce (two tablespoons) of maple syrup a day will supply 22% of the daily value of manganese needed by your body.
Zinc is needed by the immune system for immune cells to function well. A zinc deficiency, particularly in children, can lower the number of white blood cells in the body which compromises the immune system. When zinc supplements are added to the diet, white blood cell numbers return to normal.
Zinc is also thought to improve reproductive health, particularly in men. More zinc is found in the prostate gland then in any other part of the human body. When zinc levels in the prostate are low, men are at greater risk for prostate cancer. Physicians use zinc to reduce the size of the prostate.
A January 2009 report published in the “Journal of the American Dietetic Association” said that maple syrup has a higher antioxidant content than white sugar. Antioxidants are believed to help in preventing conditions that are based on oxidative damage. Some of these conditions include cancer, cardiovascular disease, and some degenerative disorders. Maple syrup is a much better choice than cane sugar for anyone who wishes to increase their antioxidant intake.
While neither maple syrup nor cane sugar should be consumed in large quantities, it doesn’t take a lot of maple syrup every day to provide you with some excellent health benefits. Eating maple syrup is a delicious way to consume zinc, manganese, and other minerals without taking a supplement.
How to Substitute Maple Syrup for Cane Sugar
When replacing cane sugar in a food or recipe with maple syrup, a cook has to take into consideration that maple syrup is a liquid and cane sugar is a solid, and that cane sugar is sweeter than maple syrup. So should a cook replace a cup of sugar with 1 ¼ cups of maple syrup to keep the level of sweetness the same or ¾ cup of maple syrup because of the liquidity of the syrup? Neither! Replace one cup of corn syrup with one cup of maple sugar. But if maple syrup is all that you have on hand, just cut down the other liquids in the recipe a little bit.
Of course, using maple syrup will (deliciously!) change the flavor of your recipe. For a slighter change, use Grade A Light or medium amber syrup, and for a more dramatic change, use Grade A dark amber.