September 21, 2021

Is Maple Syrup Better for You Than Sugar?

The short answer from a wellness dietitian

A wooden spoon in a glass jar of maple syrup

Q: Is maple syrup better than sugar?

A: If you’ve been looking for a way to cut sugar from your diet but without losing a touch of sweetness in your day, you may have come across discussions about maple syrup as an alternative. Some studies suggest that maple syrup’s antioxidant plant nutrients (known as phenols) offer health benefits. Antioxidants are key to fighting unhealthy substances in your body known as free radicals.

Advertisement

Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy

Of all the sugars available, I like maple syrup because of the nutrients mentioned above. It can be used with whole grains (in baking, in buckwheat pancakes) for fiber to prevent blood sugar and insulin swings. Just be sure to use pure maple syrup; many store-bought maple syrups are just sugar-heavy syrups with maple flavoring.

While comparable in calories and carbs, maple syrup has a lower glycemic index than sugar. Also, because maple syrup tends to be sweeter, theoretically you can use less of it. But moderation is key, as it is with any sugar.

More research is needed, though, before we consider maple syrup the next superfood. Some studies don’t consider the impact of maple syrup on insulin and blood sugar. Maple syrup is a sugar with no fiber attached to it which means eating too much of it will cause swings in your blood sugar and insulin. This could lead to hunger, potential weight gain and other adverse health effects.

Advertisement

So while it can be a decent substitute for sugar, I can’t yet recommend maple syrup to my patients as a “healthy choice.”

If your goal is to improve your health, eating green leafy vegetables, whole grains, olive oil and other Mediterranean diet staples will give you lots more bang for your buck. Numerous studies prove that these foods lower your risk of chronic disease.

—Wellness dietitian Kristin Kirkpatrick, MS, RD, LD

Advertisement

Related Articles

Various cuts of red meat displayed
February 14, 2024
Is Red Meat Bad for You?

It has nutrients your body needs, but it also comes with some serious health risks

A roasted pork chop on a mound of vegetables with sauce, displayed in a white bowl
February 12, 2024
Is Pork Red or White Meat? And Is It Healthy?

Despite what you may have heard, pork is actually red meat (and it comes with the same risks as other red meats)

Flaxseed sprinkled on a salad in a white bowl on a dark wooden table
January 31, 2024
Flaxseed: A Little Seed With Big Health Benefits

Ground flaxseed is full of heart-healthy omega-3s, antioxidants and fiber, and easy to add to just about any recipe

Oranges in bowl and tofu meal in bowl
December 7, 2023
Should You Take Iron With Vitamin C?

This pairing has long been thought to help your body better absorb iron

Top view of a bowl of chili topped with sour cream and jalapeños with tortilla chips for dipping.
November 23, 2023
Recipe Adventure: How To Build a Better Bowl of Chili

From meat to beans, we’ve got some ideas to help you create the perfect-for-you chili recipe

Muffins and sweetbreads with frosting on trays at bakery.
November 21, 2023
13 Foods That You Didn’t Know Contain Dairy

Be sure to check the labels of common foods like canned tuna, bread, hot dogs and chocolate

A closeup of a mix of different kinds of candy, all thrown together.
November 19, 2023
Candy Crush: Why You’re Craving Sweets and How To Stop

Stress, lack of sleep and not eating enough all contribute to sugar hankerings

Person during a consultation with their dietitian.
November 8, 2023
Could You Have a Fructan Intolerance?

A low-FODMAP elimination diet can help identify your symptoms

Trending Topics

close up of keto gummies
Do Keto Gummies Work for Weight Loss? Are They Safe?

Research is inconclusive whether or not these supplements are helpful

Person in yellow tshirt and blue jeans relaxing on green couch in living room reading texts on their phone.
Here’s How Many Calories You Naturally Burn in a Day

Your metabolism may torch 1,300 to 2,000 calories daily with no activity

Older person postioned sideways showing dowager hump.
Dowager’s Hump: What It Is and How To Get Rid of It

The hump at the base of your neck may be caused by osteoporosis or poor posture

Ad