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June 28, 2023
April 23, 2024
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Maple syrup is a popular natural sweetener that comes from the sap of maple trees native to Canada and the Northeastern United States. Over 70% of the world’s supply of maple syrup is made in the province of Quebec.¹ It has a distinct flavor profile and is often used as a topping for breakfast foods, such as pancakes, waffles, and French toast. 

Maple syrup is often used as a replacement for white or brown sugar.

This article will explore how maple syrup may impact blood sugar levels and the health benefits that could be gained from including this natural sweetener in meals. 

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Glycemic Index Table

Maple syrup has a low glycemic index rating of 54.² In comparison, table sugar has a glycemic index of 65, and honey has a glycemic index of 58.² This difference shows that maple syrup will raise blood sugar levels slower than regular sugar and honey. 

While it may have a low glycemic index, maple syrup does not contain fiber. Fiber often slows down digestion, so without this nutrient, consuming too much maple syrup could cause dramatic swings in blood sugar and insulin levels. 

The below glycemic index and glycemic load data are for 100g pure Canadian maple syrup, which equals approximately ⅓ cup:² ³

Glycemic Index

54

Serving Size

100g

Carbohydrate* per Serving (g)

67g

GL per Serving

3.00

Nutritional Facts

Maple syrup is high in calories and primarily composed of carbohydrates, with sucrose being the main carb in this food. Maple syrup also contains small amounts of minerals, including manganese, riboflavin, zinc, potassium, and calcium.

The below nutritional information is for 100g of maple syrup, which equates to approximately ⅓ cup.³

Calories

260 kcal

Carbs

67 g

Protein

0.04 g

Fiber

0 g

Cholesterol

0 mg

Vitamins

Riboflavin (1.27 mg)

Sodium

12 mg

Total Fat

0.06 g

Is Maple Syrup Good for Weight Loss?

When choosing a natural sweetener, many wonder whether maple syrup is healthier than table sugar. While maple syrup and sugar contain carbohydrates and can raise blood sugar levels, maple syrup has a lower glycemic index than white sugar.  The lower glycemic index of maple syrup is due to fructose, which is absorbed more slowly by the body than glucose, the primary sugar in white sugar. 

While maple syrup may have a lower glycemic index than sugar, both should be consumed in moderation as part of a healthy diet. Choosing natural sweeteners like maple syrup over processed white sugar may offer additional nutritional benefits. However, it’s important to avoid consuming too much of any sweetener, especially if your goal is to lose weight.

Is Maple Syrup Safe for People Living with Diabetes?

While maple syrup is a natural sweetener with beneficial compounds like antioxidants and antibacterial properties, it is also high in sugar and calories. People living with certain medical conditions, like diabetes, should be mindful that maple syrup causes sudden spikes in blood sugar. 

Maple syrup can be good for you when consumed as part of a balanced diet. If you have concerns about high blood sugar, add sources of protein and dietary fat when you consume maple syrup. This will help to slow digestion and prevent blood sugar spikes.

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Allergies

Maple syrup allergies are rare. However, individuals allergic to birch tree pollen may experience cross-reactivity when consuming maple syrup. This reaction can cause symptoms such as itching and tingling in the mouth. If you have allergies to tree saps or pollen, it is highly recommended to use caution when consuming maple syrup.

Also, while extremely uncommon, some individuals may have an allergy to maple. Symptoms may include skin reactions, gastrointestinal distress, or respiratory issues. 

If you suspect an allergy to maple syrup, please consult a healthcare professional.

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FAQs

What is Glycemic Index?

The glycemic index (GI) is a measure of how quickly a carbohydrate-containing food raises blood sugar levels compared to a reference food, usually glucose. It ranks foods on a scale from 0 to 100, with higher values indicating a faster rise in blood sugar. The glycemic index (GI) scale is typically categorized as follows: Low GI [55 or less], Medium GI [56-69], High GI [70 or higher]. Foods with a high glycemic index digest rapidly and can cause dramatic fluctuations in blood glucose or glucose spikes.

What is Glycemic Load?

Glycemic load (GL) takes into account both the quality (glycemic index) and quantity (carbohydrate content) of carbohydrates in a specific serving of food. It is a measure of how much a particular food will raise blood sugar levels. GL is calculated by multiplying the glycemic index of a food by its carbohydrate content and dividing it by 100. It provides a more accurate representation of the overall impact of a food on blood sugar compared to the glycemic index alone.

Does Maple Syrup Spike Insulin?

Yes, maple syrup can spike insulin levels. Maple syrup has a high glycemic index, which means it can cause a rapid increase in blood sugar levels and subsequently trigger the release of insulin. However, the extent of the spike in insulin levels may vary depending on the amount of maple syrup consumed and individual factors such as insulin sensitivity. It is important to consume maple syrup in moderation as part of a balanced diet.

Is Maple Syrup Low Glycemic?

Yes, maple syrup has a low glycemic index compared to other sweeteners. It is around 54 on the glycemic index scale. However, it still contains sugar and should be consumed in moderation.

Can People Living with Diabetes Eat Maple Syrup?

People living with diabetes can consume maple syrup in moderation as a replacement for other sweeteners, but it still contains sugar and carbohydrates that can affect blood sugar levels. It is important to monitor portion sizes and incorporate it into a balanced diet. Consult with a healthcare professional for personalized advice.

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References

  1. Too, K. K. (2017). The World’s Top Producers of Maple Syrup. WorldAtlas. https://www.worldatlas.com/articles/the-world-s-top-producers-of-maple-syrup.html
  2. The University of Sydney. (2023, May 1). Glycemic Index – Glycemic Index Research and GI Newshttps://glycemicindex.com/
  3. USDA FoodData Central. (2019, April 1). Food Details - Syrups, maple. Retrieved from https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/169661/nutrients
  4. Phillips, K. W., Carlsen, M. H., & Blomhoff, R. (2009). Total Antioxidant Content of Alternatives to Refined Sugar. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 109(1), 64–71. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jada.2008.10.014
  5. Mamdouh M. Abou-Zaid, Constance Nozzolillo, Amanda Tonon, Melanie Coppens & Domenic A. Lombardo (2008) High-Performance Liquid Chromatography Characterization and Identification of Antioxidant Polyphenols in Maple Syrup, Pharmaceutical Biology, 46:1-2, 117-125. doi: 10.1080/13880200701735031
  6. González-Sarrías A, Ma H, Edmonds ME, Seeram NP. Maple polyphenols, ginnalins A-C, induce S- and G2/M-cell cycle arrest in colon and breast cancer cells mediated by decreasing cyclins A and D1 levels. Food Chemistry. 2013 Jan 15;136(2):636-42. doi: 10.1016/j.foodchem.2012.08.023. Epub 2012 Aug 23. PMID: 23122108.
  7. Pandey KB, Rizvi SI. Plant polyphenols as dietary antioxidants in human health and disease. Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity. 2009 Nov-Dec;2(5):270-8. doi: 10.4161/oxim.2.5.9498. PMID: 20716914; PMCID: PMC2835915.
  8. Makarem N, Bandera EV, Nicholson JM, Parekh N. Consumption of Sugars, Sugary Foods, and Sugary Beverages in Relation to Cancer Risk: A Systematic Review of Longitudinal Studies. Annual Review of Nutrition. 2018 Aug 21;38:17-39. doi: 10.1146/annurev-nutr-082117-051805. Epub 2018 May 25. PMID: 29801420.
  9. Satokari R. High Intake of Sugar and the Balance between Pro- and Anti-Inflammatory Gut Bacteria. Nutrients. 2020 May 8;12(5):1348. doi: 10.3390/nu12051348. PMID: 32397233; PMCID: PMC7284805.

About the author

It is a long established fact that a reader will be distracted by the readable content of a page when looking at its layout.

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About the author

Brittany Barry is a national board-certified health coach and NASM-certified personal trainer based in South Carolina.

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Please note: The Signos team is committed to sharing insightful and actionable health articles that are backed by scientific research, supported by expert reviews, and vetted by experienced health editors. The Signos blog is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. If you have or suspect you have a medical problem, promptly contact your professional healthcare provider. Read more about our editorial process and content philosophy here.

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