Let's talk about the sticky stuff.
In this adventure of mid life I'm doing my best to age positively, which includes keeping an eye on my health and what I take into my body.
Last weekend I made myself a batch of banana pancakes and wondered, what do I pour on top? Am I better off having honey or maple syrup? Which is healthier for me?
So I investigated ...
It turns out that from a nutritional perspective, honey and maple syrup vary. They are quite different in calories, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals.
When it comes to calories, apparently pure maple syrup wins the race with 52 calories per tablespoon compared to honey's 64 calories per tablespoon. The more honey you use (eg in baking) the wider the divide.
Let's talk about carbs. Carbohydrates are the body's main source of energy so are very important. However if we eat too many carbs without the exercise to burn them off, the body will store the carbs as fat. So, for those of us who are keeping an eye on our carb intake the differences between honey and maple syrup could be significant.
According to my reading, maple syrup contains 216g of carbs per cup, of which 192g are sugars. Honey contains 279g of carbs per cup of which 278g come from sugar.
The sugars in both are natural, although the honey sugars are primarily fructose with only some glucose and sucrose whereas maple syrup sugars are mostly sucrose. A diet high in fructose can be detrimental to liver and heart health.
Honey wins the vitamin comparison with vitamin C, B6, niacin and folate. As an added bonus honey also has around 7g of fibre per cup and a little bit of protein. Maple syrup doesn't have these vitamins or bonuses, although it does have thiamin.
Maple syrup wins the mineral round with more calcium, iron, potassium, zinc and copper than honey. However, honey has fluoride which maple syrup is lacking.
Both contain a similar amount of antioxidant which is regarded as "middle of the road" antioxidant content (or in technical terms, "intermediate activity")
There is a teeny tiny bit of fat in pure maple syrup, made up of saturated, monosaturated and polyunsaturated fats, whereas honey has absolutely no fat whatsoever.
So which is healthier, honey or maple syrup?
Well, the answer to that depends on your health and wellness goals. If you are looking to lose weight then you may be better off with maple syrup because it's lower in calories, carbs and sugar. The fat content is negligible.
If you want to bulk up then perhaps honey is your best choice.
If you're looking at increasing your vitamin intake then you should stick with honey.
If it's minerals you need, then maple syrup might be better for you.
The bottom line is, both of them contain natural sugars which is always the better way to sweeten your meals, but which to choose is totally up to you!
What did I choose?
Well, I went for the honey, mainly because I'm not convinced the maple syrup in my cupboard is of the pure kind. Plus I have a huge bucket of honey that may well last me years if I don't start using it. And of course it contains so many lovely vitamins, fibre and protein. Fluoride is a bonus. PLUS honey from your local area is also a natural hay fever prevention method. You can read about that here.
Which would you prefer?
Note: I am not a dietitian or an expert on nutrition. Just an avid reader who loves to check out the health benefits of what I put in my mouth.
Information sources: http://homegymr.com/maple-syrup-vs-honey/ , http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/nutrition-pure-maple-syrup-vs-honey-1756.html , http://www.livestrong.com/article/412144-nutrition-of-pure-maple-syrup-vs-honey/ and http://www.buzzaboutbees.net/maple-syrup-vs-honey.html