Maple syrup and honey are similar products, since they are both quite natural. As you might already know, pure maple syrup is created from the sap of maple trees. Once collected, that sap is boiled in order to form a liquid that has a higher concentration in sugar. The maple water slowly thickens and takes the typical golden shade of the syrup. Honey, on the other hand, is made from the nectar collected from flowering plants. Forager bees bring this nectar to the nest, add enzymes to the liquid and evaporate part of it to produce honey. Therefore, honey and maple syrup do not have the same origin, and their production process is quite different. But they still remain very natural, both needing little human intervention while more chemical sweeteners require various synthetic alterations.
While they are comparable in some ways, maple syrup and honey still have a very different taste from one another. That is why they are not always used in the same foods, as they do not compliment flavors in the same manner. I personally find that maple syrup tends to be more versatile when it comes to cooking. In my opinion, the very distinct flavor of honey is not appropriate in every dish, while that of syrup is suitable for almost every recipe. Of course, whether you choose one or the other mostly depends on your preferences. On one side, because it mostly comes from flowers, raw honey has a pronounced floral taste to it. It is often added in teas, for example, and is generally used in small amounts because its flavor can be quite strong. On the other hand, pure maple syrup has more of a woodsy taste, and is generally drizzled on top of some pancakes, waffles and the like. It is the perfect addition to most dessert batters, for instance.
Pure maple syrup and honey are often used as replacements for brown and granulated sugar, as they are known to be healthier. Those two natural sweeteners have nutritional benefits that over-processed sugars lack, the latter often being full of synthetic, harmful additives and chemicals. Of course, the former still contain some types of sugar, and that is why they should be taken in moderation. Replacing as much bad sugars as possible with maple syrup or honey thus seems to be the best course of action, rather than adding them to an already over-sweet diet. That is definitely different for the highly processed syrups and honeys that are available out there, which are probably as unhealthy as refined sugar.
So, when consumed in small amounts and not over-processed, maple syrup and honey are indeed better for you. But there are a few nutritional differences between the two of them, and one option might actually have more benefits than the other. Indeed, those few differences should definitely be considered when choosing between the two of them.
Honey seems to have more calories than its syrupy alternative. Indeed, half a cup of honey has about 560 calories, while the same amount of pure maple syrup has approximately 440 calories. When consuming only a small amount of sweetener, this difference might not be very meaningful. But if you plan on using a larger quantity, which is often the case when cooking and baking, this gap becomes quite significant. Therefore, if you are planning to use one of them in the kitchen and wonder which one you should choose, I would probably recommend going for maple syrup instead of honey.
Honey has the nutritional advantage of containing no fat at all, while a very small amount is usually found in maple syrup. More precisely, it contains about 0.1 grams of fat per tablespoon, which is not a lot. In fact, such an amount of fat is so minimal that it should not have any negative impact on your health. Of course, that does not mean you should not be reasonable when consuming maple syrup.
Maple syrup contains less carbohydrates than honey, with respectively 13 grams and 17 grams in a single tablespoon. Consequently, honey does contain a higher number of sugars, most of its carbs being made up of fructose. When ingested in large amounts, this specific type of sugar can actually be harmful as it cannot be properly used by your body’s cells. It can have a negative impact on heart health, for example, which is why pure maple syrup is probably better in this department. It still contains some carbohydrates, but most of them are sucrose – a complex and healthy type of sugar – instead of fructose. Pure maple syrup is thus a better energy source.
The two sweeteners both contain antioxidants, which can reduce the risk of serious diseases like cancer and heart disease. They do not contain tremendous amounts of it, but adding them to a diet that is already rich in antioxidants is definitely good for your health. Refined sugar, for its part, does not contain any of those.
The sweet nectar collected from flowers contains its share in vitamins, having both vitamin C and vitamin B6. Plus, honey also comprises more vitamin B2 than its maple-y alternative. On the other hand, maple syrup contains more minerals than its flowery substitute. It offers more manganese, iron, potassium, calcium and zinc, all of which perform essential functions in your body.
As you can see, those two natural sweeteners each have their advantages and are both better for your health than more synthetic forms of sugar. Still, maple syrup and honey are not exactly the same, as their taste is very different and they do not have identical nutritional benefits. To answer the initial question, it is believed that yes, pure maple syrup is indeed healthier than honey. While the latter contains more vitamins, it also has more calories and most of its carbs are in fact fructose, which is not especially good for your body. Maple syrup has more fat, but it is found in such a small amount that it should not have any impact on your health if consumed reasonably. It also contains more minerals and healthy sugars, which are indubitably favorable to your well-being.