Date syrup and maple syrup are two paleo-compliant natural sweeteners that make a great substitute for refined sugars in everything from baked goods to savory meals, drinks, and desserts. In this article, we'll outline the differences between the two syrups including the flavor profiles, nutritional value, and the best ways to use them!
- What is Date Syrup?
- What is Maple Syrup?
- Health Benefits of Date Syrup
- Health Benefits of Maple Syrup
- Nutritional Comparison: Date Syrup vs Maple Syrup
- Flavor Comparison: Date Syrup vs Maple Syrup
- Where can you buy date syrup?
- The Best Way To Use These Natural Sweeteners
- More Natural Sweeteners
- Paleo Baked Goods Using Natural Sweeteners
Refined sugars and artificial sweeteners have long been used to add a sweet flavor to recipes, condiments, drinks, and more. However, with the growing recognition of the health risks associated with refined and artificial sugars, many people are often looking for healthier alternatives.
Date syrup and maple syrup happen to be two such alternatives that are also paleo compatible. These natural sweeteners have been used in many cultures for centuries, but are now gaining renewed popularity as more people turn away from refined sugars. Date syrup, sometimes referred to as date honey as well, is a popular sweetener and ingredient in recipes from the middle east.
These natural sweeteners make great substitutes for processed sugar such as traditional white sugars and brown sugar. Not only are they delicious alternatives, but they offer a host of health benefits as well.
What is Date Syrup?
Date syrup is a natural sweetener made most often with only dates and sometimes water to thin it out. It is a versatile and healthy alternative to traditional sweeteners such as cane sugar and artificial sugars such as Splenda and sucralose.
Date syrup has a rich, caramel-like flavor and is high in natural sugars, minerals, and antioxidants. It is perfect for adding a touch of sweetness to different recipes, from breakfast to dessert - or even adding to your coffee!
This syrup is made by removing the pits from the dates and then mashing or pureeing the pulp of the dates to create a thick paste. The paste is then heated and simmered until it becomes a thick liquid.
At that point, the liquid is then strained to remove any remaining bits of date and to clarify the syrup. Some manufacturers may also add natural ingredients like lemon juice or cinnamon to enhance the flavor or water to thin out the consistency.
The final product is a thick, dark liquid that is similar in consistency to molasses and has a rich, caramel-like flavor.
What is Maple Syrup?
Maple syrup is a sweet syrup that is made from the sap of maple trees, primarily the sugar maple tree. The sap is typically collected from the trees in the late winter or early spring as the starches are stored in the tree trunk in cold climates.
The sap is then boiled to remove water, resulting in a concentrated syrup. The process can take several hours, depending on the type of equipment used and the desired final product.
The syrup is then graded based on color and flavor, with darker syrups having a stronger maple flavor and a higher mineral content.
It's important to realize, however, that there is a difference between products marketed as "maple syrup" or simply "syrup" and "pure maple syrup".
Like date syrup, pure maple syrup is a natural sweetener and to be labeled as pure it must meet the standards set by federal laws. To be considered pure maple syrup it must be made from 100% pure sap of maple trees and cannot contain any added ingredients or preservatives such as corn syrup and artificial colors and flavors.
It is also graded according to color, flavor, and sugar density. It is a popular alternative to refined sugar or artificial sweeteners and can be used in cooking, baking, or as a condiment such as on pancakes and french toast.
Health Benefits of Date Syrup
Date syrup is essentially liquefied whole dates, meaning it offers the same health benefits as the fruit itself, making it a great natural alternative to refined sugars.
Dates in general are a good source of natural sugars, fiber, and antioxidants. They are also rich in vitamins and minerals such as potassium, magnesium, and vitamin B6.
The syrup made from dates contains these nutrients and also provides a good source of natural energy, as it contains balanced amounts of both glucose and fructose. Date syrup also boasts these additional benefits:
- Good for digestion: Dates are high in dietary fiber, which can help to promote regular bowel movements and prevent constipation.
- May help to lower blood pressure and cholesterol: Dates contain potassium, magnesium, and other antioxidants, which can help to lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
- May support bone health: Dates are rich in minerals such as magnesium and manganese, which are essential for maintaining strong bones and teeth.
- High in antioxidants: Dates contain antioxidants that may help to protect cells from damage, which can help to prevent certain diseases including cancer.
However, it is important to note that although it is a natural sweetener made up of fruit, like other sweeteners, date syrup is high in calories and should be used in moderation!
Health Benefits of Maple Syrup
Pure maple syrup has several potential health and nutritional benefits, including:
- Rich in antioxidants: Maple syrup contains antioxidants that may help protect the body from damage caused by free radicals.
- Contains numerous minerals: Maple syrup is a good source of minerals such as zinc and manganese, which are important for maintaining a healthy immune system.
- Low glycemic index: Maple syrup has a slightly lower glycemic index compared to other sweeteners, which means it may not cause as large of a spike in blood sugar levels. When using sweeteners, it is often a better choice to control blood sugars.
- Anti-inflammatory properties: Some studies suggest that maple syrup may have anti-inflammatory properties, which may help reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes.
Again, just as with date syrup, natural sweeteners are still sugar, making them high in calories and should be used in moderation.
Nutritional Comparison: Date Syrup vs Maple Syrup
While maple syrup and date syrup are both natural sweeteners that can be used as a healthier alternative to refined sugar, in addition to the different health benefits that we discussed above, they also have different nutritional profiles and nutritional values.
Maple syrup contains antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins such as zinc andd manganese. This syrup also contains small amounts of calcium, potassium, and magnesium.
The nutritional value for one tablespoon - or 15ml - of pure maple syrup is the following:
- 52 calories
- 13g of carbohydrates
- 12g of sugars
Source Used: https://www.webmd.com/diet/maple-syrup-good-for-you
Date syrup, on the other hand, is made from entire, whole date fruit. It contains natural sugars, fiber, and antioxidants. It's also a good source of vitamins and minerals such as potassium, magnesium, and vitamin B6.
The nutritional value for one tablespoon - or 15ml - of date syrup is the following:
- 63 calories
- 16g of carbohydrates
- 13g of sugars
Source Used: https://www.nutritionix.com/
Flavor Comparison: Date Syrup vs Maple Syrup
Date syrup has a rich, molasses and caramel-like flavor with a slightly fruity taste. It is less sweet than maple syrup and has a thicker consistency.
Maple syrup, on the other hand, has a distinct, sweet maple flavor with a thinner consistency.
While these two liquid sweeteners are mildly different in taste they can each be used as substitutes in your favorite recipes - especially those that use liquid sweeteners such as honey.
Where can you buy date syrup?
While pure maple syrup is more common and can be found in nearly any grocery store, you might be wondering where you can buy date syrup.
Date syrup can most often be found in the baking aisle of health food stores near other natural sugars such as agave nectar or agave syrup, coconut sugar, and raw honey.
The Best Way To Use These Natural Sweeteners
Both of these natural syrups can be used in a variety of ways in your cooking and make a delicious addition to both baked goods and savory whole foods.
While they can make a great alternative to refined sugars (like brown sugar or white sugar) it's important to remember that you'll likely have to reduce the amount of liquid elsewhere in the recipe when using syrups for substitutes for crystalized sugars.
Both date syrup and maple syrup can, however, be substituted 1:1 for other liquid sweeteners such as high fructose corn syrup, brown rice syrup, or blackstrap molasses.
Here are more great ways to use these natural sweeteners:
- As a sweetener: As already discussed, both maple syrup and date syrup can be used as a sweetener in recipes like this Paleo Double Chocolate Chip Banana Bread and these Healthy Baked Donuts. However, they can also be used to sweeten drinks, and to add a touch of sweetness to oatmeal or yogurt and even coffee.
- In sauces, marinades, and glazes: Maple syrup and date syrup can be used to create rich, flavorful sauces and marinades for meats, seafood, and vegetables like with this Whole30 Teriyaki Sauce.
- In salad dressings: Both sweeteners can be used to make homemade salad dressings, adding a touch of sweetness and a depth of flavor. This butternut and beetroot salad uses a date and dijon dressing that is SO good.
- As a topping: Maple syrup and date syrup can be used as a topping for pancakes, waffles, french toast, and ice cream.
- In jams, jellies and spreads: You can make your own jams, jellies and spreads with these sweeteners and fresh fruits for a naturally sweetened treat or gift!
More Natural Sweeteners
If you're looking for more healthy sugar substitutes to have on hand and to avoid the use of refined sugars like regular sugar, these are a couple of my favorite paleo staples:
- Coconut Sugar
- Maple Sugar or Date Sugar
- Raw Organic Honey