Maple syrup – nutritional values, properties and application

Maple syrup is a traditional Canadian product, not without reason called Canadian Liquid Gold.In addition to the appreciated flavor, the syrup is characterized by a wealth of nutrients, includingmanganese, zinc and magnesium, and B group vitamins. Maple syrup has a pro-health effect, confirmed in numerous scientific studies.

Maple syrup is a valuable sugar substitute, which certainly can not be called empty calories.However, it should be used in moderate amounts, because it contains a lot of sucrose.

How is maple syrup formed?

Maple syrup is produced in the vast majority in Canada, in the province of Quebec.Originally it was created by Indian peoples inhabiting the present areas of Canada and the northern United States, long before the discovery of America by Columbus and the influx of European settlers.

As the name suggests, maple syrup is produced using clones, mainly of the sugar species (Acer saccharum), silvery (A. saccharinum), red (A. rubrum) and black (A. nigrum).Trees must be around 30-40 years old to be suitable for obtaining juice.The process itself is not very invasive for them, and the same clones can be used as a raw material for many decades.

Harvesting juice takes place in early spring, during the thaw.This is the best time, because the trees do not get too dry and the juice tastes best.When the trees begin to grow buds, the juice taste changes to the detriment.

In tree trunks, there are taps through which the juice flows directly to the dishes or is transported to larger gutters, thanks to a special system of tubes connected with taps.The collected juice is subjected to evaporation and concentration by heating, until a suitable consistency of the syrup is obtained.Traditionally, Indians thickened the juice, throwing hot stones into it, so that the water gradually evaporated.A cold method was also used, leaving the juice to freeze and then removing the water film from the surface of the vessel.Both methods were very time-consuming.European settlers have modernized the way of producing maple syrup.They received it through long boiling in copper boilers.Currently used industrial methods are not very different from traditional ones.Although modern equipment is used, the method of production is non-invasive, no chemicals, dyes or preservatives are used.Currently, energy-saving evaporators are used to evaporate the syrup.Sometimes, the reverse osmosis method is used, i.e. the flow of solutions through the membrane after applying pressure to obtain a product with a specific sugar concentration.The syrup is also filtered so that it does not contain crystallized sucrose lumps.None of these activities, however, interfere with the product’s qualities.

Juices obtained from clones differ in composition.They usually contain 1.5-3% sugar.The amount of sugar in the juice depends on the efficiency with which the syrup is made.

To produce 1 liter of maple syrup you need 20-50 liters of juice.

Due to variable juice parameters, it is difficult to determine the exact time needed for cooking.An experienced manufacturer recognizes, by appearance, whether the syrup is ready.It also checks the content of sugar with a glucose meter.

Maple syrup is bottled at 82 ° C. It is naturally protected against the growth of microorganisms and does not require the addition of preservatives.On average, maple syrup is useful for consumption for 18 months.

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The use of maple syrup in the kitchen

Maple syrup is smooth and thick.It has a golden color, reminiscent of honey.You can find syrups that are lighter and darker in stores.The darker the color, the stronger the process of sugar caramelization during syrup evaporation.Light syrups are considered more valuable.They have a delicate taste – they sweeten without changing the taste of the dish.Many people, however, appreciate the characteristic scorched aftertaste of dark syrups and this is considered tastier.

The most popular application of maple syrup is pouring pancakes or traditional pancakes in Canada and USA, resembling our pancakes.It is also a tasty icing for french waffles and toasts.Syrup very well dissolves in water, so it can be sweetened with warm drinks, drinks and cocktails.Darker syrups will work as a marinade for meats, and all kinds of it can be used for baking.

Maple syrup instead of sugar

100 g maple syrup delivers 270 kcal, which is less than sugar (about 400 kcal / 100g).In its composition we find mainly sucrose (52-75%), so you should eat it in moderation.It also has a fairly high glycemic index (IG = 65), which is why it is not recommended for diabetics.It should also not be used by people on a sugar-free diet, with candidiasis, or as a sugar substitute for slimming people.

However, we will not call the maple syrup empty calories, due to the antioxidants present in large quantities, beneficial for health, as well as vitamins and minerals.Maple syrup is also a good product for people allergic to honey.

Maple syrup can be bought in natural food stores and large supermarkets, and recently also in discount stores.Its price is close to the price of a good honey.It is best to buy it in glass bottles, because the glass prevents gas exchange and allows you to maintain the quality and freshness of the syrup for a longer time.Plastic bottles must be stored in the refrigerator.

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Nutritional values ​​of maple syrup

In addition to sugar, maple syrup contains manganese, zinc, calcium, sodium, potassium, iron and selenium as well as some B vitamins. The most important is the amount of manganese and vitamin B2 (riboflavin).

60 ml of syrup, or ¼ cup, covers the daily average demand for manganese, 37% for riboflavin, 18% for zinc, 7% for magnesium, and 5% for calcium and potassium.Eating such an amount of maple syrup provides 216 kcal, i.e. the ratio of health values ​​to calories falls quite well for a sweetener.We must not forget that maple syrup is also a very good source of phenolic compounds belonging to the group of antioxidants.

The antioxidant capacity of maple syrup, i.e. the ability to fight free radicals that are detrimental to health, is similar to that of broccoli, apples and bananas.60 ml maple syrup, or ¼ cup, provides 10-38% of the daily requirement for antioxidants, recommended by food organizations in the USA.

Maple syrup and cancers

Maple syrup is well researched in terms of antioxidant content.Several dozen compounds with antioxidant activity have been detected in numerous studies on this product.They have a protective effect on human cells and help to prevent diseases caused by free radicals, such as cancer or type II diabetes.

Legult and collaborators published in 2010 showed that pure clone in in vitro conditions (outside the body, in laboratory conditions) inhibited the growth of cancer cells, especially prostate and lung.It was also found that the syrup has the ability to inhibit the action of nitric oxide.Overproduction of nitric oxide is the result of inflammation in the body and a risk factor for the formation and growth of cancer cells.Inhibition of the action of nitric oxide silences inflammatory processes and can be helpful in preventing cancer.

Maple syrup and diabetes

Researchers at the University of Rhode Island noted that pure maple syrup inhibits the action of enzymes important in the development of type II diabetes.Polyphenols contained in it are responsible for slowing the action of enzymes converting complex carbohydrates to glucose.Due to the fact that more and more people are suffering from type II diabetes, finding a potential medicine in natural food gives high hopes for scientists and consumers.However, it is necessary to confirm the positive effects of syrup in human studies.Dr Yves Desjardin from Laval University and colleagues found that in maple syrup there is abscisic acid in amounts that have health benefits for humans.The abscisic acid is a phytohormone that in plants is responsible for the inhibition of photosynthesis and chlorophyll production and causes the plant to go idle.In humans, it is helpful in the treatment and prevention of type II diabetes and the metabolic syndrome.It stimulates the secretion of isnulin by the pancreas, increases the sensitivity of fat cells to isnulin and increases the use of sugar by the muscles.The same relationship was found by Guri and colleagues in 2007.The abscisic acid can be a very good drug used to fight metabolic syndrome and adult-onset diabetes.

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Maple syrup good for the heart

The combination of zinc and antioxidants, present in maple syrup, can reverse atherosclerotic lesions.Zinc is necessary for the proper functioning of the endothelium of blood vessels, which is damaged by LDL cholesterol molecules.Their large amount in the blood is associated primarily with abnormal diet and excessive body weight.Cells with low zinc content are much more at risk of developing atherosclerotic lesions.

Maple syrup may be one of the sources of zinc food supply as well as manganese.It was noted that manganese supplied with maple syrup caused a decrease in LDL-cholesterol levels in adults with manganese deficiencies.

Maple syrup as a probiotic

There is an idea of ​​using juice and maple syrup as a carrier of probiotic bacteria, beneficial to human intestinal microflora.In 2010, a method of producing products containing probiotic bacteria based on maple juice was developed.This is a good solution especially for people with lactose intolerance or who are allergic to dairy products, because the vast majority of probiotics in tablets contain lactose, and foods with probiotic bacteria are mainly dairy products.

Maple syrup has a very interesting and appreciated taste.It can be used in many ways in the kitchen and is certainly a good substitute for sugar.The health potential of maple syrup and the antioxidants present in it are very valuable, but their presence does not mean that you can eat unlimited amounts of syrup, even to provide antioxidants to the body.However, if you want to use something to make sweet, maple syrup will be a much better choice than sugar.

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You can read also: Birch sugar, an alternative to white sugar?

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