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Understanding the Differences between Honey & Maple Syrup

 Pure maple syrup and honey are commonly regarded as two of the most popular natural sweeteners. They are widely considered to be the best substitutes to sugar and there’s no question that using these foods is much better than consuming sugar. Moreover, adding honey and maple syrup to our foods – from baked goods and beverages to even meat dishes - gives them a distinct natural sweetness and also enhances their flavor considerably. Honey vs. Maple Syrup,
Since both honey and maple syrup are made naturally, they are usually believed to be healthy. And plenty of households use the two foods interchangeably, depending on their tastes. However, while these two sweeteners might appear to be very similar, they do have plenty of differences that you might not be aware of – from their nutrition makeup to their health benefits. Today, we will discuss some of the important differences between honey and maple syrup.

How are they made? 

As you might be aware, honey is made by bees as pollen as a food source. The nectar is stored and broken down into simple sugars inside the honeycomb. “The design of the honeycomb and constant fanning of the bees' wings causes evaporation, creating sweet liquid honey,” says the National Honey Board

Honey vs. Maple Syrup, honey made
Maple syrup, meanwhile, has a much simpler process flow. It is made from the circulating fluid, or sap, of sugar maple trees. Once the sap is taken from a tapped maple tree, it is boiled into concentrated syrup. And that’s it! 
Honey vs. Maple Syrup, making process, maple

Nutrition Differences

Nutritionally, both pure maple syrup and honey vary widely. Let’s take a look at the nutrition information for 1 tablespoon of maple syrup (20 grams) and honey (21 grams) based on the information provided by the United States Department of Agriculture:

 

 Honey (1 tbsp.)

 

 Maple syrup (1 tbsp.)

 

  Calories:

 64

 52

  Fat:

 0g 

 >1g 

 Sodium: 

 >1mg 

 2.4mg

 Carbohydrates: 

 17.3g 

 13.4g

 Fiber: 

 >1g 

 0g 

 Sugars: 

 17.2g

 12.1g 

 Protein: 

 >1g

  >1g

 Calcium:

 1.26mg

 20.4mg

 Manganese:

 0.17mg

 0.582mg

 Zinc:

 .046mg

 0.294mg

 Riboflavin:

 .008mg

 0.254mg

 

As you can see from the table above, honey and maple syrup are the most similar in calorie content. However, honey does contain more protein and carbohydrates, as well as fiber and sugars. That being said, while the carb content between the two foods is quite close, the amount is almost a difference of one teaspoon of added sugar, according to dietitians. 

Honey, however, does not contain any fat which gives it a great edge among those who are health conscious. The fat in a tablespoon of maple syrup, meanwhile, is 1 gram, including tiny amounts of saturated, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated fats. Both sweeteners do not contain any cholesterol.

Furthermore, honey does contain small amounts of vitamin C and B vitamins (Vitamin B6, niacin and folate, and Vitamin B5). But dieticians observe that to receive the true benefits of these vitamins, we would have to be consuming honey in considerably large amounts. To elaborate, after consuming 100 grams (about five tablespoons) of honey, you’ll receive about 1% of the Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDA) for vitamin C. Maple syrup contains neither vitamin B-6 nor vitamin C but it comprises more minerals than honey and is considered a good source of manganese, riboflavin, and zinc.

Lastly, maple syrup contains more sodium than honey while honey does contain fluoride which is beneficial to dental health whereas maple syrup doesn’t contain any.

Related: Is Honey Always Better to Use Than Sugar?

Shelf Life

Honey vs. Maple Syrup, honey storage
The National Honey Board says that over time, honey may “darken and lose its aroma and flavor or crystallize,” depending on changes in temperature or storage conditions. However, that doesn’t mean that the honey has gone bad; these are just natural changes and won’t change its taste. Crystallization usually happens since natural honey contains natural sugars and pollen.
Honey, in fact, does not have an expiration date. It consists of numerous vitamins and enzymes and can last for many years. Bear in mind, though, that processed or altered honey doesn’t preserve the natural benefits of honey. So, only look for real, raw and unfiltered, honey when you are out buying it.
Honey vs. Maple Syrup, maple syrup storage
Meanwhile, maple syrup, owing to its density is more vulnerable to growing mold. According to the USDA, “all maple syrup can be stored in the pantry about a year” before opening. It’s recommended to keep unopened bottles of maple syrup in a dry, cold area. Once it’s opened, genuine maple syrup should be stored in the refrigerator where it can easily last for a year. 

Health Benefits of Honey

Honey vs. Maple Syrup, Health Benefits
Even though it is a natural sweetener, honey has many potential health benefits. 
* Natural, high-quality honey is rich in antioxidants, including organic acids and phenolic compounds like flavonoids. Studies have shown that eating honey can lead to some reductions in blood pressure.
* Several studies show that honey can have a positive effect on your cholesterol levels.  
* Honey can be used to provide relief from burns, wounds, and many other skin conditions when applied to the skin. Manuka honey, in particular, is considered especially effective for treating burn wounds, research has shown.
* Honey can be effective in suppressing coughs, particularly in children. Studies have indicated that honey can work even better than some common cough medicines. Honey has also been found to reduce cough symptoms and improve sleep more than cough medication, according to a study.
Find out how honey can be used to counteract 9 common health problems

Health Benefits of Maple Syrup

Honey vs. Maple Syrup, healthy
As we have already mentioned, maple syrup contains some vitamins and minerals. This natural sweeter has some health benefits too.
* Studies show that maple syrup can be used as a decent source of antioxidants and provides at least 24 of them. However, its high sugar content means that it must be used with caution when being used to lose weight or improve your metabolic health.
* Maple syrup has a lower glycemic index (of 54) as compared to honey (61). That makes the syrup a better choice for those with diabetes or other blood sugar issue.
* People with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) may be able to digest maple syrup better than honey. While both maple syrup and honey contain simple sugars, the fructose present in honey may not be suitable for people with irritable bowel syndrome, according to food experts.

Use in Cooking 

Honey vs. Maple Syrup, cooking with homey
Both honey and maple syrup have a deliciously distinctive flavor. So how you use it in cooking, depends a lot on your personal tastes as well. Some of you might enjoy honey’s thicker texture and floral hints. Many others might prefer the more woodsy and earthy taste of maple syrup.
More importantly, though, both honey and maple syrup can be used in place of sugar. For every 1 cup of sugar that is replaced by honey or maple syrup, make sure that you reduce your other liquid ingredients by at least 3-4 tablespoons, say experts. Both foods work excellently to sweeten baked goods cereals, granola, muesli, and more. 
Honey vs. Maple Syrup, pancakes
In general, honey can be used to sweeten any hot beverage. It can also be added to smoothies or spread over toast or used as a dressing or for marinades. 
Maple syrup has been famously used for drizzling onto a stack of pancakes or on waffles, and French toast in countless homes for years. But you can also add it to cooked sweet potatoes and baked beans or replace the icing of your cinnamon rolls and drizzle some maple syrup on them. You can even mix maple syrup with butter to cook vegetables to give your meal a unique taste. 
However, if you use maple syrup in place of sugar or corn syrup in your food, you should expect some changes in the flavor of your food as the syrup has a strong maple aroma.

The Bottom Line

In summary, we can say that both honey and maple syrup can be used as a substitute for sugar and can be made part of a healthy diet. You can use them to sweeten a variety of dishes – from oatmeal in breakfast to many meat dishes during dinner. While honey does appear to have a slight edge over maple syrup considering its overall nutritional and health benefits, what you ultimately choose will depend much on your tastes. Neither of the two can be said to be naturally better than the other.
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