I was having breakfast the other day, Flaxseed pancakes which are delicious and high in fibre (use flaxseed meal and combine with your usual pancake batter) when I started reading the label of my “Maple Syrup”. Turns out that Aunt Jemima’s so called “Maple Syrup” has very little maple and a lot of syrup; High Fructose Corn Syrup that is.
If you haven’t heard the facts about High-Fructose Corn Syrup, let me enlighten you. High-fructose corn syrup (HFCS)—also called glucose/fructose, Isoglucose or Glucose-Fructose syrup—is composed by a group of corn syrups that has undergone enzymatic processing to convert some of its glucose into fructose to produce a desired sweetness. In the USA is highly used since its cheaper than traditional sugar cane sugar. t is commonly used in breads, cereals, breakfast bars, lunch meats, yoghurt, soft drinks, soups, and condiments – Basically it is everywhere.
Health concerns have been raised about HFCS, which allege contribution to obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. According to The Mayo Clinic “Research has shown that high-fructose corn syrup is chemically similar to table sugar. Controversy exists, however, about whether or not the body handles high-fructose corn syrup differently than table sugar.” The Corn Refiners Association has tried over the years to deny this claim, and they even focused on a long advertising and PR campaign assuring the public that HFCS isn’t harmful.
The way I see it: natural food sources are always better. Why do we have to rely on a business focused on highly processed foods and the use of chemical components on our food? In Europe the use of high fructose sugar is regulated , subject to a annual production quota. According to online sources In 2005, this quota was set at 303,000 tons (against an average of 18.6 million tons of sugar annually between 1999 and 2001) Wide-scale replacement of sugar with HFCS has not occurred in the EU.
A Princeton University research team has demonstrated that all sweeteners are not equal when it comes to weight gain: rats with access to high-fructose corn syrup gained significantly more weight than those with access to table sugar, even when their overall caloric intake was the same. Now if we put this in perspective and think that almost every food product in the US has a significant amount of HFCS what can we expect in terms of obesity rates?
When it comes to maple syrup at least all I can recommend is to go natural. Many Family Farmers make 100% pure maple syrup. Yes it can be more expensive but you are getting the real thing, which is not only healthier but also tastier. Check the difference between the ingredients… yes, simplicity, just one ingredient: 100% Maple Syrup.
Natural Maple syrup is a syrup usually made from the xylem sap of sugar maple, red maple, or black maple trees. In cold climates, these trees store starch in their trunks and roots before the winter; the starch is then converted to sugar that rises in the sap in the spring. Maple trees can be tapped by boring holes into their trunks and collecting the exuded sap. The sap is processed by heating to evaporate much of the water, leaving the concentrated syrup… and that’s it! 100% plant-based. Of course it is more expensive because production depends not only on the amount of healthy maple trees available but it is also affected by weather, so many manufactures produce their very own fake maple syrup.
Make sure you read the labels of the food you eat, specially when feeding kids.
A good guide to search for 100% natural maple syrup sources is Amazon, or visit your local market, or whole-foods store.
Some of the ones available at Amazon.com are: