Those seeking healthier alternatives to processed pancake syrup often look towards “natural” options, such as maple syrup (or even date syrup) for a healthier alternative. However, the nutritional differences between them are minimal. In this article we’ll be comparing maple syrup vs pancake syrup so you can decide for yourself though.
As it turns out, the nutritional differences between maple syrup and date syrup are minimal. Although maple syrup is a natural sweetener, its caloric content comes entirely from sugar, much like pancake syrup. It does contain small amounts of minerals and antioxidants, but not in any kind of significant quantity.
That said, other factors may be worth considering when choosing between these two sweeteners. Let’s have a closer look.
Maple syrup is the amber sap that comes from the Sugar Maple Tree.
Unlike traditional pancake syrups, which are made entirely of processed corn syrup, maple syrup has a reputation as being a “healthier” option. This is because it is believed to be a “natural” sugar that is unprocessed. However, that is not entirely true.
Once extracted from the maple tree, the sap is minimally processed by boiling it to remove excess water, concentrating it into a thick, syrup-like consistency. In fact, according to a video on the Food Insider YouTube channel, it takes roughly 44 gallons of sap to make a single gallon of maple syrup.
“Pancake syrup” is a processed type of sweetener, made mostly of corn syrup (and some other ingredients as well.) It has a darker color and is often more opaque in appearance than maple syrup.
Corn syrup and high-fructose corn syrup are refined sugars that come from the starch of the corn plant. It is a highly-processed food product that is cheap to produce in bulk, making it a frugal alternative to the pricier maple syrup, which comes with hefty price tags due to how labor-intensive it is to produce it.
High fructose corn syrup is somewhat of a controversial subject, with opinions varying by source. Some experts, such as those at Cleveland Clinic, cite studies that suggest it increases appetite and promotes obesity more than traditional sugar.
Mayo Clinic has a different take, however, claiming that there is insufficient evidence to suggest that high fructose corn syrup is any less healthy than other types of syrup.
Some of the more common brands of pancake syrup include:
- Mrs. Butterworth’s
- Log Cabin
- Hungry Jack
- Pearl Milling Company (formerly “Aunt Jemima”)
Pancake syrup is quite abundant though, with many other brands (including store brands) available on grocery store shelves everywhere.
Maple Syrup VS Pancake Syrup
Now that we’ve gone over the practical differences between maple syrup and pancake syrup, let’s have a closer look at how they compare nutritionally.
The table below compares the nutrition facts of a 2-tablespoon serving of maple syrup with an equal serving size of Mrs. Butterworth’s pancake syrup– one of the most popular and widely-recognized brands:
|Item||Maple Syrup||Pancake Syrup|
|Serving Size||2 tbsp||2 tbsp|
As you can see, maple syrup and pancake syrup are nearly identical in terms of nutrition facts. Their calories come entirely from sugar, making them similar in caloric content.
That said, there are a few minor differences that are worth noting.
Maple Syrup Contains Small Amounts Of Minerals
One minor advantage of opting for maple syrup vs pancake syrup is that it contains trace amounts of certain minerals, including:
- Calcium: a mineral that helps build strong bones
- Potassium: a mineral and electrolyte that helps manage fluid balance in the body
That said, the quantity of these minerals in a single serving of maple syrup is minimal, with a single 2-tbsp serving containing over 3% of the Daily Value for calcium and 2% DV for potassium.
On one hand, it’s greater than none, which pancake syrup contains. However, you’d have to consume a lot of sugar to get a meaningful amount of them from maple syrup.
Maple Syrup Also Contains Some Antioxidants
Another minor nutritional advantage that maple syrup has over pancake syrup is that it contains antioxidants.
Antioxidants help in protecting cells from free radical damage, and maple syrup contains up to 24 different types of them. But according to Healthline, the quantity of antioxidants in maple syrup pales in comparison to the amount of sugar you’d have to ingest to get a meaningful amount.
The Glycemic Index is a scale from 1 to 100 that ranks foods based on how much they spike blood sugar levels when consumed. The higher the number, the greater the blood sugar spike, and vice versa.
According to the Diabetes Quebec website, maple syrup has a slight advantage here in that researchers have determined that it spikes blood sugar less than other types of sugars, including corn syrup.
Difference In Taste
If you’re not yet convinced that one sweetener is better than the other then taste might just be the determining factor for you.
Pancake syrup tends to be stickier and has a thicker consistency with a sweet flavor. Maple syrup is similarly sweet, although it has more of a rich flavor and is often runnier than pancake syrup.
Storage & Shelf Life
Let’s discuss the differences in shelf life between maple syrup vs pancake syrup.
According to the USDA website, unopened maple syrup can be stored at room temperature for up to 1 year. Once opened, it can last just as long if refrigerated.
Pancake syrup, on the other hand, never goes bad, but it retains most of its quality for the first 18 months.
The final consideration to make when choosing between these two sweeteners is how they fare with our four-legged friends.
According to Rover.com, maple syrup can be safe for your dog in small amounts, but it is not recommended due to its sugar content, which can lead to obesity and diabetes.
The same can be said for pancake syrup. However, be sure to check the ingredients list for Xylitol first, as it can be “extremely toxic” to dogs, says VCA Animal Hospitals.
The Bottom Line
In conclusion, the battle of maple syrup vs pancake syrup may simply boil down to taste and price. Although they are nearly identical in terms of nutrition, pancake syrup is much cheaper. However, maple syrup has a richer flavor that may be worth shelling out the extra cash for.
Those seeking a healthier alternative to both of these may be better served opting for date syrup, which contains a greater nutritional advantage than each.