Monday, January 30, 2017

The Ultimate Guide to Maple Syrup’s Health Benefits

Throughout the month of February, you should be prepping for the upcoming sugaring season. Gallons of sap will be spilling out of your spouts, and you need to have your equipment ready to transform this unremarkable substance into a rich, sugary syrup. Once you’ve boiled your sap into syrup, it can be used to make candies, marinate bacon or add much-needed moisture to a stack of pancakes.

If you harvest maple syrup, you’re already aware that it is a lucrative product and a sweet treat, but few are privy to the bevy of health benefits that are masked beneath the syrup’s rich taste. Pure, organic maple syrup is swimming with antioxidants, nutrients and minerals that make it a suitable substitute for processed sweeteners with added chemicals.

Read on to learn more about the health benefits of maple syrup and the extent of its nutritional value!

Strengthen Your Immune System 

Two minerals that maple syrup has in abundance are zinc and manganese. Both of these minerals effectively bolster the immune system and support cells that fight harmful bacteria. A quarter cup of maple syrup contains 100 percent of the DRV of manganese, which helps build a healthy metabolism, encourage energy production and expedite the healing of tissue. Research has indicated that zinc deficiency ultimately leads to the production of fewer white blood cells, but consuming foods high in zinc (like maple syrup) causes production to return to normal levels.

Build a Healthy Liver 

The liver is indispensable in keeping blood sugar in equilibrium, filtering alcohol from the bloodstream and producing amino acids. Preliminary results on lab rats have suggested that pure maple syrup aids liver function when compared to standard sugars. The study concluded that maple syrup may be a better choice of sweetener due to the polyphenols, vitamins and minerals it contains. In addition to swapping out your sweetener, be sure to exercise and manage stress—your liver will thank you.

Neutralize Free Radicals & Reduce Inflammation 

Free radicals are molecules that have an unstable number of electrons, and they form naturally in your body through the process of oxidation. This degenerative oxidation has a number of negative side effects that include aging, heart problems, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and cancer. Luckily, antioxidants found in fruits, veggies, legumes and dietary supplements neutralize free radicals by providing an extra electron.

Maple syrup is laden with natural antioxidants that can stave off chronic illness. In fact, a study by the American Chemical Society discovered 54 total antioxidants present in maple syrup. By testing cell growth in vitro, researchers have found that these antioxidants in maple syrup slow the production of nitric oxide. Nitric oxide is a chemical that encourages the growth of cells and oftentimes incites the formation of cancerous tumors. Maple syrup is especially effective at halting the growth of prostate cancer and lung cancer. It also has positive effects on brain, colon and breast cancer cells.

Defend Against Diabetes 

A study from the Journal of Clinical Nutrition discovered that polyphenols found in maple syrup (specifically abscisic acid) increase fat cells’ absorption of insulin and increase activity in pancreatic cells. Due to maple syrup’s lower relative glycemic index, it causes less of a spike in blood sugar than corn syrup or white sugar.

However, the majority of maple syrup’s composition is sucrose (table sugar), and it’s a highly concentrated source of carbohydrates. For that reason, diabetics should not consume maple syrup in large quantities. Instead, maple syrup should be used in moderation as a substitute for sugars that diabetics already add into their diet.

Finally, a healthy “super food” that doesn’t taste horrible (that means you, kale)! We don’t recommend guzzling gallons of maple syrup each day, but it’s wonderful if enjoyed in moderation and as a substitute for artificial sweeteners. To start harvesting your own sap, check out Paris Farmers Union’s collection of maple sugaring supplies. Shop today for drills, tap spouts, tubing and much more. And let us know in the comments below about any other maple syrup nutrition facts we may have missed.
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