Honey vs. Pure Maple Syrup (Which Is The Better Natural Sweetener?)

honey vs maple syrupWhen it comes to healthy alternatives to sweetening food, both honey and pure maple syrup often come up in the conversation.  But is one better than the other?  If using substantial quantities, we think so.

For instance, per tablespoon, honey has 23% more calories than pure maple syrup.  Even more, honey contains 40% more sugar than pure maple syrup!

While the two are often compared or thought of as equally healthy choices, it’s pretty clear that they are anything but.

Of course, depending on the taste profile you desire, you may find that one suits better than the other.  In that instance, rest assured, these are both great, natural alternatives to processed sugar and high fructose corn syrup any way you slice it!

That said, we actually prefer and recommend low-calorie or non-calorie natural sweeteners, such as stevia and erythritol, over maple syrup and honey in most instances.  For baking recipes, we often find a combination of natural sweeteners like maple syrup or honey, plus a non-calorie or low calorie sweetener like stevia and erythritol is the best taste/calorie trade-off.

Of course, too much sugar (even from natural sources) can be damaging to your gut health, brain function, memory, and blood sugar levels, which we’ve talked about extensively at the links below:

==> How sugar feeds and multiplies toxic bacteria in your gut

==> How sugar can create “brain fog”, affect your memory, and damage your health

To your success,

Josh Bezoni

Co-Founder, BioTrust Nutrition

 

18 comments - Add Yours

  1. Honey is better 1 bacteriicidal
    2traditionally used as medicinal
    Not as sweet as Maple Syrup.h

    • Hi Cho,

      Thanks so much for sharing your feedback with us. We actually dive into the benefits of both honey and maple syrup further, here:

      I hope this helps!

      Sincerely,

      Brian Murray
      Nutrition and Exercise Coach

  2. I too use both. I prefer honey in my hot tea (I do not sweeten my coffee). We use natural honey from our area to reap the benefits to help my allergies. When I sweeten a dish, I use as light a hand as possible. I will mix Stevie with honey when the texture will not be compromised.

    • Hi Geralann,

      Thanks so much for sharing your feedback. It sounds like you’re doing a great job, especially incorporating local honey. If you’re interested, you may consider stopping by our Online Community Forums where we had a good discussion on this very topic:

      http://www.biotrustboard.com/showthread.php?36875-Honey-vs-Pure-Maple-Syrup-(which-is-the-better-natural-sweetener-)

      Keep up the great work, Geralann!

      Sincerely,

      Tim Skwiat
      Senior Nutrition and Exercise Coach

  3. Ok, I have found a VERY Sweet natural sweetener. It is Organic Blue Agave. Pure Agave Nectar. A Tablespoon is 60 calories, HOWEVER, I use only 1 Tsp to get the sweetness of 2 Tablespoons of Honey. It is thick, but not quite as thick as honey. This is also much less expensive than Honey or Stevia, which is what I like the most. Because I like it so much, I would like your opinion & advice about using it. THANKS!

    • Hi Katrina,

      Thank you so much for reaching out to us with this questions. It is truly our privilege to be your resource for honest nutrition and health information.

      As far as your question about agave, this is an interesting one. It seems to be all the rage, as it is touted as being an all-natural alternative to sugar. The fact of the matter is that it’s still essentially sugar, and a very concentrated source at that (i.e., about 60 calories per tablespoon, compared to 40 calories for the same amount of table sugar). What’s more, it is actually very high in fructose—significantly higher, in fact, than high-fructose corn syrup. Most of the variations found in stores are processed using high heats, which destroys some of its inherent health benefits (e.g., enzymes).

      While honey contains about 50% fructose and maple syrup around 42%, the amount of fructose in agave ranges from 70 – 97%, depending on the brand, region, etc.

      I don’t dislike it—it actually works great for margaritas and other cold drinks—but I do find it ironic that it seems to get such an awesome reputation but really provides no real health benefit over sugar. As a matter of fact, used in the same quantities, it may be worse! (Because of the high fructose content.) If you do choose agave, I would try to find a raw version that is processed at lower temperatures, which would then confer some health benefit.

      You’re talking about using a very small amount, so that is important to take into consideration as well. Generally speaking, when it comes to nutrition, there is a spectrum along which dietary choices can be made:

      Good >>> Better >>> Best

      We can even talk about dietary displacement in this conversation. Calorie for calorie, we’re bound to get more nutrient-density from a food like raw, local honey or pure maple syrup than we are from agave. It’s just something to consider.

      I hope this helps!

      Sincerely,

      Tim Skwiat
      Senior Nutrition and Exercise Coach

  4. How does blackstrap molasses compare – which I loooove!

    • Hello Ena,

      Thanks so much for reaching out to us!

      Blackstrap molasses is another great alternative, as it contains significant amounts of manganese, copper, iron, calcium, potassium, and magnesium. Blackstrap molasses also has roughly 60 calories per tablespoon, so we actually still prefer and recommend low-calorie or non-calorie natural sweeteners, such as stevia and erythritol.

      I hope this helps, Ena.

      Sincerely,

      Brian Murray
      Nutrition and Exercise Coach

  5. I would like to see less overall use of stevia, as I can easily detect the off taste. Maybe cut it by half…I typically blend in a banana half, which easily covers the shortfall of added sweetener

    • Hi Warren,

      Thanks so much for your feedback. Are you talking about a specific product or food item? Or, are you just discussing stevia in general?

      As you’ve mentioned, individual tastes vary from person to person—they are as unique as our fingerprints. That’s a great idea about the banana. Have you tried blending a frozen banana into your smoothies? Not only will you enjoy the taste, it adds a very nice thick and creamy texture. Give it a shot and let us know what you think!

      Thanks, Warren. Keep up the great work!

      Sincerely,

      Tim Skwiat
      Senior Nutrition and Exercise Coach

  6. What is your opinion on xyitol?

    • Hi Pauline,

      Thank you so much for reaching out to us and for offering us the opportunity to help. Xylitol is a naturally-occurring food substance, found in the fibers of many fruits and vegetables. As a result, it is recognized as safe (GRAS) by the FDA. Although it is classified as a sugar alcohol, its chemical structure resembles both a sugar and an alcohol but isn’t a true form of either.

      At 2.4 calories per gram, it does contain caloric value. As a matter of fact, American Diabetes Association advises people with diabetes to count half of sugar alcohol grams as carbohydrates. Despite this, it does have a very low glycemic index score (i.e., 7 compared to sugar’s 100). Because it is not fully absorbed in the small intestine, it may cause digestive issues in some folks when used in larger quantities.

      In small amounts it may be fine, but we typically recommend a combination of stevia and erythritol. These all-natural sweeteners have zero calories, zero glycemic impact. What’s more, erythritol is fully absorbed, so it does not tend to pose any digestive issues.

      Don’t feed xylitol to your dogs: it can be toxic to our canine friends.

      I hope this helps!

      Sincerely,

      Tim Skwiat
      Senior Nutrition and Exercise Coach

  7. I am fond of raw honey, used in moderation, of course, but we have to keep in mind something, Raw Honey is the only natural sweetener, even Maple Syrup has to be processed because it is not the sap of the Maple Tree you are eating when you pour it at your food.
    Raw Honey, on the other hand, besides the great antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal properties also has enzymes, vitamins and minerals. If the only basis for the this comparative is number of calories, sure, the honey has more, but it is a real food, again, in moderation, as every one of the others sweeteners (except stevia, I guess).

    • Hi Javier,

      It’s great to see you over here on our website blog! Thanks so much for stopping by. :) I think you’d also love to join our Online Community, as I think you’d bring great knowledge and experience to the table. As a matter of fact, as I mentioned to Catherine in the comments section here, we’ve touched on some of the very same points that you’ve mentioned about honey in this thread:

      http://www.biotrustboard.com/showthread.php?36875-Honey-vs-Pure-Maple-Syrup-%28which-is-the-better-natural-sweetener-%29

      I think Coach Josh’s take-home point here is that if you’re using “substantial quantities” (e.g., a recipe), then maybe maple syrup is the better option, as it’s lower in calories, carbohydrates, and fructose for a given volume, or unit measure (not necessarily for a given level of sweetness). As you point out, however, when using in smaller quantities, the total health benefits conferred by honey—as well as its taste profile—may make it a more attractive option.

      Thanks, Javier!

      Sincerely,

      Tim Skwiat
      Senior Nutrition and Exercise Coach

      • As always, Tim, thank you for your nice reply.

        Javier

        • Camille burke

          You took the words out of my mouth Javier. Honey has many great properties that I believe outway any other sweeter.

  8. Yes, but did you know that honey is antibacterial, antimicrobial, antiviral and anti fungal? Honey is the one food that literally never spoils. It is also used in wound healing. Plus it is all very well to say it contains more sugar but the real test is how much do you need for a certain level of sweetness? And while I like maple syrup, I don’t want my tea to taste like maple syrup and the best maple syrups are pretty strongly flavored.

    • Hi Catherine,

      Thanks so much for sharing these great points about honey. As a matter of fact, we’ve discussed these very same health-promoting properties over at our Online Community:

      http://www.biotrustboard.com/showthread.php?36875-Honey-vs-Pure-Maple-Syrup-%28which-is-the-better-natural-sweetener-%29

      Coach Josh did make sure to point out that both options are “great, natural alternatives to processed sugar and high fructose corn syrup,” and “depending on the taste profile you desire, you may find that one suits better than the other.” I think he’d agree about maple syrup-flavored coffee. :)

      I think the take-home point here is that if you’re using “substantial quantities” (e.g., a recipe), then perhaps maple syrup should get the nod, as it’s lower in calories, carbohydrates, and fructose for a given volume, or unit measure (not necessarily for a given level of sweetness).

      Thanks, Catherine!

      Sincerely,

      Tim Skwiat
      Senior Nutrition and Exercise Coach

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