Maple Syrup: Healthy or Unhealthy? (2024)

Maple syrup can come in many varieties, some of which can be healthier than others. But it’s still a sweetener and high in sugar, so it’s recommended to consume maple syrup in moderation.

Maple syrup is a popular natural sweetener that is claimed to be healthier and more nutritious than sugar.

However, it’s important to look at the science behind some of these assertions.

This article explains whether maple syrup is healthy or unhealthy.

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Maple syrup is made from the circulating fluid, or sap, of sugar maple trees.

It has been consumed for many centuries in North America. Over 80% of the world’s supply is now produced in the province of Quebec in eastern Canada.

There are two main steps to maple syrup production:

  1. A hole is drilled in a maple tree so that its sap pours into a container.
  2. The sap is boiled until most of the water evaporates, leaving a thick, sugary syrup, which is then filtered to remove impurities.

The final product can be used to sweeten many dishes.


Maple syrup is made by tapping sugar maple trees, then boiling the sap to produce a thick syrup. Most maple syrup is produced in eastern Canada.

There are several different grades of maple syrup characterized by color, though classification can vary between countries.

In the US, maple syrup is classified as either Grade A or B, where Grade A is further categorized into three groups — Light Amber, Medium Amber and Dark Amber — and Grade B is the darkest available syrup (1).

The darker syrups are made from sap extracted later in the harvest season. These have a stronger maple flavor and are usually used for baking, whereas the lighter ones are drizzled directly atop foods like pancakes.

When buying maple syrup, make sure to read food labels carefully. This way, you’ll get real maple syrup — not just maple-flavored syrup, which can be loaded with refined sugar or high-fructose corn syrup.


There are several different grades of maple syrup based on color. Grade B is darkest and boasts the strongest maple flavor.

What sets maple syrup apart from refined sugar is its minerals and antioxidants.

Around 1/3 cup (80 ml) of pure maple syrup contains (2):

  • Calcium: 7% of the RDI
  • Potassium: 6% of the RDI
  • Iron: 7% of the RDI
  • Zinc: 28% of the RDI
  • Manganese: 165% of the RDI

Though maple syrup provides a decent amount of some minerals, especially manganese and zinc, keep in mind that it also packs plenty of sugar.

Maple syrup is about 2/3 sucrose, or table sugar — 1/3 cup (80 ml) supplies around 60 grams of sugar.

Consumed in excess, sugar may be a leading cause of some of the world’s biggest health problems, including obesity, type 2 diabetes and heart disease (3, 4, 5).

The fact that maple syrup contains some minerals is a very poor reason to eat it, given its high sugar content. Most people already eat copious amounts of sugar.

The best way to get these minerals is to eat whole foods. If you eat a balanced diet, then your chance of lacking any of these nutrients is very low.

In addition, the high sugar content may affect your blood sugar levels — though maple syrup may be a better option than regular sugar in that regard.

The glycemic index of maple syrup is around 54. In comparison, table sugar has a glycemic index of around 65 (6).

This implies that maple syrup raises blood sugar slower than regular sugar.


Maple syrup contains a small amount of minerals, such as manganese and zinc. However, it is very high in sugar.

Oxidative damage, which is caused by free radicals, is believed to be among the mechanisms behind aging and many diseases.

Antioxidants can neutralize free radicals and reduce oxidative damage, potentially lowering your risk of some diseases.

Studies indicate that maple syrup is a decent source of antioxidants. One study found 24 different antioxidants in maple syrup (7).

Darker syrups like Grade B supply more of these beneficial antioxidants than lighter ones (8).

However, the total antioxidant content is still low compared to the large amounts of sugar.

One study estimated that replacing all the refined sugar in the average diet with alternative sweeteners like maple syrup would increase your total antioxidant intake as much as eating a single serving of nuts or berries (9).

If you need to lose weight or improve your metabolic health, you would be better off skipping sweeteners altogether instead of going for maple syrup.


Though there are a number of antioxidants in maple syrup, they don’t offset its high dose of sugar.

Numerous potentially beneficial substances have been observed in maple syrup.

Some of these compounds are not present in the maple tree, forming instead when the sap is boiled to form syrup.

One of these is quebecol, named after the maple-producing province of Quebec.

The active compounds in maple syrup have been shown to help reduce the growth of cancer cells and may slow down the breakdown of carbohydrates in your digestive tract (10, 11, 12, 13, 14).

However, human studies to confirm these health effects found in test-tube studies are lacking.

Moreover, keep in mind that most maple syrup studies — which are often accompanied by misleading headlines — are sponsored by maple syrup producers.


Maple syrup boasts other compounds that may benefit health — but most studies are misleading and sponsored by the maple syrup industry.

Even though maple syrup does contain some nutrients and antioxidants, it is also very high in sugar.

Calorie for calorie, maple syrup is a very poor source of nutrients compared to whole foods like vegetables, fruits and unprocessed animal foods.

Replacing refined sugar with pure, quality maple syrup is likely to yield a net health benefit, but adding it to your diet will just make things worse.

Maple syrup is a less bad version of sugar, much like coconut sugar. It cannot objectively be labeled healthy.

If you consume it, it’s best to do so in moderation — as with all sweeteners.

Maple Syrup: Healthy or Unhealthy? (2024)


Maple Syrup: Healthy or Unhealthy? ›

The good news is that, when consumed in moderation, maple syrup can be a natural and healthier alternative to processed sugars and has numerous benefits. It's nutritious, and loaded with essential minerals like calcium, magnesium, potassium, zinc, and more. You know the stuff that keeps your body sappy.

Is maple syrup good or bad for you? ›

While it lacks vitamins, maple syrup is rich in certain minerals, such as manganese. It also has antioxidants that may offer health benefits, such as lowering cholesterol and supporting brain health. But, its high sugar content can lead to tooth decay and further health problems for people with diabetes.

What is the healthiest syrup to eat? ›

If you're going to reach for one over the other, maple syrup contains the fewest sugars, calories, and carbohydrates per serving.

What is healthier, brown sugar or maple syrup? ›

Brown sugar is known to have more vitamins and minerals than white sugar, however it still offers slightly less nutritional value than pure maple syrup. Maple syrup has fewer calories and also offers more calcium, riboflavin and manganese than brown sugar.

Is real maple syrup healthier than fake? ›

Pure maple syrup is a beautiful thing, and many of us agree that the extra expense of drawing and boiling sap from tall, cold trees is well worth it. Granted, no one slathers their breakfast plate with maple syrup with the intention of improving their health, but the real stuff is not devoid of nutrients.

Which is healthier honey or maple syrup? ›

Both offer benefits in the form of either vitamins or minerals, and both offer protective antioxidant activity. Putting taste aside, as the two have different flavors — honey is more floral while maple syrup is more woodsy — maple syrup tends to be the slightly healthier choice, but we enjoy both throughout the year.

Should I refrigerate maple syrup? ›

Once opened, does maple syrup need to be refrigerated if it's the pure variety? Yes, because it's a natural product with no preservatives and can spoil or grow mold. If your syrup is not hot-packed, store it in the fridge (even if it's unopened) and plan to consume it quickly.

Is maple syrup bad for cholesterol? ›

Studies have shown that maple syrup can help lower cholesterol levels. This is because the phenolic compounds in maple syrup bind to cholesterol molecules, preventing them from being absorbed by the body. Maple syrup can improve blood sugar control.

Is maple syrup inflammatory? ›

A recent maple syrup study has shown that the delicious liquid contains a molecule called quebecol, which has anti-inflammatory properties. The purpose of anti-inflammatory substances are simple; they work to reduce inflammation! There are many diseases, disorders, and pathologies that plague people with inflammation.

Is maple Joe real maple syrup? ›

Sourced from deep within the Canadian forests, Maple Joe is extracted by heating the raw and naturally derived sap from the maple trees. After the slow and lengthy cooking process, you get Maple Joe's Maple Syrup - wholly Canadian Maple Syrup, packed with all it's health benefits and minerals.

Which is healthier dark or light maple syrup? ›

The darker ones also contain more phenols, which are molecules generally found in maple syrup. They act as “antioxidants, anti-tumor and anti-cancer agents”. The lesson to learn is that the darker the syrup, the more it contains stuff that is good for you and thus, the healthier it is.

Is maple syrup good in coffee? ›

Adding maple syrup to your coffee will give it a unique flavor and sweetness that will leave you wanting more. Not only is maple syrup an excellent way to add flavor and sweetness to your coffee, but maple syrup is good for you with naturally occurring minerals and antioxidants.

How much maple syrup per day? ›

The American Heart Association recommends consuming even less—no more than 25 grams for women per day and 36 grams for men. But regulations about how maple syrup's sugars are listed on Nutrition Facts labels could lead to some consumer confusion.

What is the healthiest maple syrup to buy? ›

No matter if it is light and delicate or dark and robust, 100% pure maple syrup is the healthy all-natural choice.

Is Costco maple syrup real? ›

Costco only sells Grade A amber syrup. Buyers looking for a light or robust taste will not find Grade A golden or dark at a Costco. Costco maple syrup also has maple syrup as its sole ingredient – making it 100% organic.

Is maple syrup considered junk food? ›

The Bottom Line. Even though maple syrup does contain some nutrients and antioxidants, it is also very high in sugar. Calorie for calorie, maple syrup is a very poor source of nutrients compared to whole foods like vegetables, fruits and unprocessed animal foods.

Is maple syrup a superfood? ›

Maple syrup has the same antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties as green tea, which is also a superfood. Maple syrup offers health benefits, just like blueberries, red wine and tea. Because of its antioxidant, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, maple syrup helps prevent cancer and Type 2 diabetes.

Is maple syrup clean eating? ›

“Eating Clean” is the new buzz word in nutrition. It involves eating whole, healthy, unprocessed foods. One of the key concepts includes replacing refined sugar with clean sugars such as honey, dehydrated sugar cane juice and pure maple syrup from producers like Cedar Run Farm.

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