define "bad". And also is it a vehicle to eat something you should probably eat in moderation in the first place. If it means by using it you'll eat 6 pancakes rather than one... then it'll be worse! I'd rather have one really good pancake with the "real deal" maple syrup and savor it.
I like frenchhen's reply -- keeping it real!
Here's my take -- most sugar-free maple syrup isn't "maple" syrup so I, stating my opinion, would say YES, it's equally bad, possibly worse...
Most are using "sugar alcohols" like Maltitol or Sorbitol along with Aspartame or Sucralose... Joseph's -- Ingredients: Water, Maltitol, All Natural Maple Flavor Maple Grove Farms -- Ingredients: Water, Sorbitol, Natural and Artificial Maple Flavor, Cellulose Gum, Sucralose (Splenda Brand), Potassium Sorbate and Sodium Benzoate to preserve freshness, Citric Acid, Caramel Color, Acesulfame Potassium, Zinc, Niacinamide (Vitamin B3), D-Calcium Pantothenate (Vitamin B5), Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Vitamin B12. Mrs. Butterworth's -- Ingredients: Water, Sorbitol, Contains 2% Or Less Of: Cellulose Gum, Sorbic Acid And Sodium Benzoate (Preservatives), Sodium Hexametaphosphate, Salt, Phosphoric Acid, Citric Acid, Natural And Artificial Butter Flavors, Natural And Artificial Maple Flavors, Aspartame, Acesulfame Potassium Sucralose, Caramel Color, Mono- And Diglycerides.
All that stuff is crap -- and remember: whether it says natural or artificial flavorings -- it's ALL man-made -- in a lab somewhere in New Jersey...
The non-sugar-free versions of the above are typically made with corn syrup -- equally crap...
The downside of pure maple syrup is that it's expensive. The one in my cupboard -- Ingredients: Pure maple syrup
It's the refining and processing of typical "white sugar" that alters the end product beyond recognition -- by our eyes and bodies. The less processing and refinement, the more of the naturally occurring vitamins and minerals will remain in the end product.
Go with PURE maple syrup, RAW cane sugar, honey, molasses, etc -- the benefits are trace vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. I use rice syrup frequently -- it's a good flavor, not as sweet, and it's about 50% complex carbs which break down more slowly in your body and decrease spikes in blood sugar...
As far as your health is concerned, I suppose there is an anecdotal argument to be made for avoiding artificial sweeteners.
A lot of experts say that artificial sweeteners cause you to gain weight because they increase your desire to eat more or sweeter foods, however I've found this advice to be largely dependent on the individual. Personally, I eat what's on my plan and that's it.
What you need to be careful of is that most sugar free products also contain Acesulfame Potassium, which has actually been scientific proven to spike your insulin levels much the same as regular sugar or other simple carbohydrates, which can cause your body to store fat. (Malaisse et al, 1998)
Whether that is true at the probably small levels of ace k that may be in a sugar free syrup is hard to say. I'd just as soon go with real maple and maybe just use less of it.
Malaisse WJ, Vanonderbergen A, Louchami K, Jijakli H, Malaisse-Lagae F. Effects of
artificial sweeteners on insulin release and cationic fluxes in rat pancreatic islets. Cell
Signal. 1998 Nov;10(10):727-33.
Last edited by a735263; 02-26-2013 at 03:22 AM.
Reason: Source update
The "Acesulfame Potassium" bit is interesting! Although, since it is so prevalent in diet foods, isolating might be risky -- if you're doing sugar-free syrup, you're likely doing sugar-free a lot'a things so you might be getting it from a lot of sources...
I'm certainly not a health professional -- nor do I consider myself an expert on the subject. I just have this desire to look at my food and be able to, as much as possible, visualize the natural source from where it came -- which feels like something more than anecdotal to me. White table sugar is about the antithesis of what I look for because virtually everything that resembles its natural source has been stripped -- down to 99.9% sucrose. Outside of that reason, I won't go the "Log Cabin" route simply because, in pursuit of maple syrup flavor, I don't think it tastes good.
As far as being "good for your health," I imagine pure maple syrup (65% sucrose) isn't much better than the alternatives but it's not entirely an "empty calorie" (as they say) and there is good stuff (vitamins, minerals) in it. Granted, not much "stuff" but, to illustrate, I've attached 3 syrup profiles from fitday:
sugar-free --vs-- corn syrup --vs-- maple syrup
Note that I had to kick the quantity up to 1 cup for each in order to see the actual stuff.
Sometimes, a little strategic exaggeration is good. This feels like one of those times so I also attached my typical fruit juice specs compared to regular cola -- 10oz each. The idea in my head is "sugar vs sugar" and, just as with maple syrup, I'll take the natural sugar with the extra "stuff" any day -- all in moderation, of course...
Didn't realize those guys were going to end up being so small...
Broke everything out to 5 files with only essential data.
The first 3 are the syrups and the last two are juice/cola.
(Still not sure it will be big enough to read, but...)
I certainly agree with you about visualizing where my food comes from and how it exists in its natural state. What I mean about the evidence on artificial sweeteners being primarily anecdotal is that the negatives of them are often subjective rather than quantifiable. i.e. Saying it 'may increase appetite or desire to eat sweet foods.' Well increase in who? What percent of the population, etc. What is an 'increase', 1%, 50%? That being said, I certainly agree that the more naturally whole your food is, the better you can picture it in its natural state, the better it is likely to be for you.
You're right about the Ace K being in almost everything sugar free. It is probably next to impossible to isolate it while eating sugar free or low sugar 'diet' foods.. although one could certainly argue that actually maintaining a healthy body composition long term would be easiest/best by adopting a diet consisting primarily of whole foods in their most natural state, which wouldn't include many sugar-free products I know of!
As far as maple syrup is concerned, the Acesulfame Potassium argument is probably irrelevant anyway. I know when I eat maple syrup it is almost always on high GI foods that spike my insulin levels anyway (except bacon, an awesome combo FYI).
The main problem with sugar free products I see is that people typically use them when on a low carb diet. The purpose of low carb diets is to induce ketosis, so your body converts fat into ketones for energy in the absence of glucose. Any spike in insulin levels, whether from glucose or acesulfame potassium is going to kick you out of ketosis and limit the effectiveness of a LC diet.
And -- so true! Not much better than the bacon & maple combo!
(I once rode my bike 200 miles for a very popular doughnut in my neck of the woods. Well, at least the doughnut was the excuse I used to ride my bike that far -- and, given the calorie intake to burn ratio, it was a guilt-free trip...!!)