Maple syrup is a yellowish syrup that is prepared by cooking the sap extracted from some species of maple trees, known in Brazil as Canadian maple .
This boiling process causes part of the water to evaporate and produces a thick syrup, with a very characteristic flavor and rich in sugars, nutrients and other important compounds for the body.
The maple syrup (in English) as well as being a healthier sweetener option than white sugar, it helps protect the body against various diseases, reduces the risk of developing cancer and also regulates the bowel and strengthens bones.
What’s up? Curious to learn more about this food? So keep reading to see the main benefits of adding it to the menu and still find out how it is prepared and how to consume it!
What is the purpose and benefits of maple syrup
In addition, it has a good amount of carbohydrates, more than 66% of the total composition of the syrup is made up of sugar, and several antioxidants.
But it contains a high caloric value, about 126 calories in ¼ cup. ( 2 )
Protects against free radicals
One of the main benefits found in consuming maple syrup is related to its antioxidant potential , which makes it an ideal option to protect the body against disease, as it works by preventing the effects of oxidative stress on cells.
This phenomenon releases unstable molecules in the body known as free radicals, which circulate loose in the body until they stick to healthy cells and cause damage to them. This process increases the risk of developing chronic and degenerative problems . ( 3 )
Among the main antioxidants found in maple sap are coumarins, phenolic compounds and derivatives, lignins, in addition to benzoic acids and flavonoids. ( 4 )
Helps to control and prevent diabetes
It may even seem a bit contradictory, as more than 60% of this syrup is made up of sugars (especially fructose), but replacing regular sugar with maple syrup can help control type 2 diabetes.
This disease occurs when the pancreas produces insufficient insulin (a hormone that metabolizes sugar) or when the body cannot use it correctly.
Maple syrup has a lower glycemic index than other natural sweeteners, causing it to be released gradually into the blood, which prevents the peak of blood glucose in diabetics.
The phenolic compounds present in it inhibit the action of some enzymes, which are released by the liver and serve to transform all the carbohydrate ingested into glucose. ( 5 )
This, however, does not mean that it can be consumed in large quantities, right? The food remains high in carbohydrates. Therefore, people suffering from diabetes should take this into account and use it with great caution .
Treat infections naturally
Consumption of maple syrup can also help reduce antibiotic intake as it helps to treat infections caused by bacteria . The sweetener prevents the aggregation and multiplication of these microorganisms.
The syrup can still treat mild infections , as it has no side effects, unlike traditional medicines, and it also reduces the risk of bacteria becoming resistant to the compounds. ( 6 )
It is an ally in cancer prevention
Did you know that consuming maple syrup can reduce the risk of developing cancer? Maple sap has the potential to stimulate apoptosis of colorectal cancer cells .
This means that it activates a mechanism of programmed death of diseased cells, an important step towards the remission of the disease, to stop the growth of tumors and prevent the disease from spreading to other tissues. ( 7 )
The fluid extracted from the tree prevents the proliferation of cancer cells, while inhibiting the functioning of a mechanism that allows them to migrate and invade other parts of the body. ( 5 )
strengthens the bones
Another good news for those who enjoy or want to try maple syrup : the sweetener helps to strengthen bone health by having a good amount of calcium, a mineral used in bone remineralization .
It also has protective effects on bones. Maple sap reduces the body’s rate of calcium reabsorption while increasing the absorption of the nutrient present in other foods. ( 5 )
Protects intestinal health
Maple syrup also serves to improve functioning and protect the gastrointestinal tract. Because it is rich in a type of fiber that is not digested by stomach acids.
This particularity makes this nutrient pass through the body without being modified and that is exactly what makes it so beneficial for health.
When it reaches the intestines, it starts to ferment and becomes a powerful prebiotic, stimulating the proliferation of local bacterial flora .
Among the gains this brings to the body is greater protection against infections and inflammatory diseases, the prevention of constipation and intestinal gas, which contributes to the relief of abdominal cramps. ( 8 )
What is and how is maple syrup made?
Maple syrup is the result of cooking the sap extracted from some trees known as maple (or maple), native to the region of Canada and the northern part of the United States.
But to reach the final product there is a long way to go. It is necessary to extract the sap , a process that occurs in a period called sugaring off, which only takes place for 6 to 8 weeks a year, between the months of April and February.
This date is chosen because the cold positively affects the quality of the product.
After extracting the liquid, using a bucket and a nozzle to direct the flow, the sap is taken to be boiled, in a process that evaporates much of its water.
In the end, for every 40 gallons “harvested”, only one gallon of ready-to-eat syrup is produced, which is then categorized according to quality.
Curiosity ! The Canadian maple has a lot of sap and more than 30 liters can be extracted from each tree at once without damaging it. The tree, on the other hand, takes between 40 and 60 years to grow to the point of harvest.
How to use and where to find it?
It is often used as an accompaniment to pancakes for breakfast, to sweeten coffee and teas or to replace regular sugar in any recipe and marinate meat.
A tip for those who have never tried it is to choose the ones with the lightest color, which have the mildest flavor. Dark ones are stronger and usually have the strongest characteristic flavor. ( 2 )
In Brazil, you can find imported and natural products in supermarkets and stores.