Yummy! Did You Know Maple Syrup is Paleo-Friendly?

As many of us struggle through cutting out processed sugar (white sugar) and simple carbohydrates. I know a few of you are doing the who “Paleo” thing, which in simple terms means that you’re only eating the foods our ancester ate, which as mostly lean meat, green, leafy vegetable, nuts and seeds, and seasonal fruits. I’d say my diet is a hybrid of Atkins and Paleo, leaning more towards Paleo. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that maple syrup, my most favorite liquid sweetener, is paleo friendly! No lie. PURE maple syrup, like from a tree and not from Mrs. Butterworth, is basically sucrose, which is the change of sugars found in fruit. Yes, it’s high in carbohydrates (53 grams in 4 tablespoons) but the apparantly this kind of sugar is processed in the body differently because it’s in a form that is natural and recognizable.

From Mark’s Daily Apple:

Sugar’s sugar’s sugar, right? That’s often the general message floating around our circle, but I’m not sure it’s entirely correct. After all, fruit has sugar, but it’s also got fiber and phytochemicals and vitamins and minerals, and it’s handled differently in the body than, say, a bottle of fizzy HFCS. Same goes for honey, for which I did an entire post where the basic conclusion was that honey was a “safer sweetener” than plain white sugar. Then again, something being “natural” doesn’t make it healthier, as is the case with agave nectar; a previous “Is it Primal?” revealed that agave nectar is treated just like sugar and HFCS in the body and that raw white sugar actually contains more antioxidants than the vegan sweetheart. Which brings us to maple syrup – where does it stand?

Well, maple syrup defeats agave nectar and white sugar in the antioxidant department, but that’s not very difficult. It’s also been eaten for centuries as a traditional food, perhaps even longer, since the native Americans were producing maple syrup when the Europeans arrived in the Americas. A recent study identified 54 phenolic compounds in real maple syrup, including one dubbed quebecol that actually forms during the process of boiling sap down into syrup. Since honey owes its unique metabolic effects to the presence of dozens upon dozens of phenolic compounds, I would guess that maple syrup is one of the safer sweeteners.

When it comes to sugar, all maple syrups, regardless of the grade, are almost entirely sucrose. Grade B maple syrup, however, is darker, richer, more complex, and contains more minerals (and, probably just like the darker honeys, more phytochemicals). Go for grade B (whose name may change in 2013), and make sure you get real maple syrup, not just “syrup.”

Verdict: Primal limbo, but use caution, as it’s still sugar.


My advice? If you’re doing the low sugar, low carb thing while working out and feel that you get fatigued, put a little maple syrup in your breakfast. Cage free eggs, nitrate-free bacon, sliced organic strawberries and a half/3/4 tablespoon of maple syrup (I like to warm up the sliced strawberries and maple syrup for about 20 seconds in the microwave first). Eat this about 30 minutes before working out and you’ll have good carbs to burn and sustained energy to complete your workouts.

But I just wouldn’t guzzle it like this guy…

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