Borrowed from the World’s Healthiest Foods website: whfoods.com
Maple syrup is one of the many wonders of the world. This viscous amber liquid with its characteristic earthy sweet taste is made from the sap of either the sugar, black or red maple tree. The process of creating maple syrup begins with tapping (piercing) the tree, which allows the sap to run out freely. The collected clear, almost tasteless sap is then condensed by boiling, a process that helps to concentrate its initial single digit sugar content to more than 60%. This process also creates the characteristic flavor and deep color of the syrup.
The scientific name for the sugar maple tree, from which maple syrup is obtained, is Acer saccharum.
Maple syrup is sweet—and we’re not just talking flavor. Maple syrup, as an excellent source of manganese and a good source of zinc, can also be sweet for your health.
Sweeten Your Antioxidant Defenses
The trace mineral manganese is an essential cofactor in a number of enzymes important in energy production and antioxidant defenses. For example, the key oxidative enzyme superoxide dismutase, which disarms free radicals produced within the mitochondria (the energy production factories within our cells), requires manganese. One ounce of maple syrup supplies 22.0% of the daily value for this very important trace mineral.
Be Sweet to Your Heart with Maple Syrup
Maple syrup is a good sweetener to use if you are trying to protect the health of your heart. The zinc supplied by maple syrup, in addition to acting as an antioxidant, has other functions that can decrease the progression of atherosclerosis. Zinc is needed for the proper function of endothelial cells and helps to prevent the endothelial damage caused by oxidized LDL cholesterol and other oxidized fats. (The endothelium is the inner lining of blood vessels.) Endothelial membranes low in zinc are much more prone to injury. Additionally, studies have found that in adults deficient in manganese, the other trace mineral amply supplied in maple syrup, the level of HDL (the “good” cholesterol) is decreased.
Sweet Support for Your Immune System
Zinc and manganese are important allies in the immune system. Many types of immune cells appear to depend upon zinc for optimal function. Particularly in children, researchers have studied the effects of zinc deficiency (and zinc supplementation) on their immune response and their number of white blood cells, including specific studies on T lymphocytes, macrophages, and B cells (all types of white blood cells important for immune defenses). In these studies, zinc deficiency has been shown to compromise numbers of white blood cell and immune response, while zinc supplementation has been shown to restore conditions to normal. In addition to the role played by zinc, the manganese in maple syrup is important since, as a component of the antioxidant SOD, it helps lessen inflammation, thus supporting healing. In addition, manganese may also act as an immuno-stimulant.
Real Healthy Men Use Maple Syrup
Maple syrup may help to support reproductive health and provides special benefits for men. Zinc is concentrated more highly in the prostate than in any other human tissue, and low levels of zinc in this gland relate to a higher risk for prostate cancer. In fact, zinc is a mineral used therapeutically by healthcare practitioners to help reduce prostate size. Manganese may also play a role in supporting men’s health since, as a catalyst in the synthesis of fatty acids and cholesterol, it also participates in the production of sex hormones, thus helping to maintain reproductive health.
How to Store
While unopened containers of maple syrup can be stored in a cool dry place, they should be kept in the refrigerator once they are opened. Maple syrup can be frozen, although it should be defrosted before use since it very viscous and hard to pour when frozen. If any mold appears in the syrup, even if just on the surface, you should throw away the entire container since it may be contaminated.
How to Enjoy – A Few Quick Serving Ideas
Maple syrup, used in place of table sugar as a sweetener, gives tea and coffee a unique taste.
Pour some maple syrup on oatmeal topped with walnuts and raisins.
Add maple syrup and cinnamon to puréed cooked sweet potatoes.
Combine maple syrup with orange juice and soy sauce and use as a marinade for baked tofu or tempeh.
Spread peanut butter on a piece of whole wheat toast, top with sliced bananas and then drizzle maple syrup on top for a sweet, gooey treat.