When you need a sweetener, what do you turn to? Honey, agave nectar, or maybe just plane ole sugar? I'm far from being this "freaky" eater, but my sweetener of choice is organic, Grade A maple syrup. Aside from smothering pancakes and waffles in this delicious brown syrup, maple syrup is a very versatile sweetener. I like adding it to yogurt, oatmeal, or apple sauce, but you can also use it in dressings for salads, in fish or chicken dishes, or in a granola parfait, or roast some almonds in maple syrup and spicy cinnamon for a light, healthy snack. These maple syrup recipe ideas are sure to inspire you.
Pure maple syrup tastes great, and it offers a myriad of health benefits. Here are just a few:
- It's an antioxidant powerhouse. Researchers at the University of Rhode Island found that maple syrup is filled with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant compounds that may help prevent several chronic and inflammatory diseases like diabetes, cancer, osteoporosis, and Alzheimer's. It also comes packed with phenolics — the beneficial antioxidant compounds in maple syrup — that may help diabetics keep their blood sugar levels balanced since phenolics inhibit the enzymes that are involved in the conversion of carbohydrates to sugar.
- It settles digestion issues. Try swapping out sugar in baked-good recipes for maple syrup, and you may find that the usual gas and bloating you normally experience after consuming processed sweeteners is no longer an issue. If you do replace sugar with maple syrup, just be sure to reduce the amount of liquid the recipe calls for by about a half-cup.
- It helps with muscle recovery. Real maple syrup is an excellent source of manganese, which helps repair muscle and cell damage; it also keeps bones strong and blood sugar levels normal.
- It is filled with important nutrients. Maple syrup contains essential nutrients like zinc, iron, calcium, and potassium. Zinc not only supports reproductive health, but it also helps to keep your white blood cells up, which assist in the protection against colds and viruses.
As sweet as all of this sounds, keep in mind that at the end of the day, maple syrup is still just liquid sugar. Too much sugar intake can increase your risk of obesity, diabetes, unhealthy blood levels of fat and cholesterol, and high blood pressure, so regardless of its health benefits, be sure to use maple syrup in moderation.
Source: Flickr User Anatoli Axelrod