Do you have an aunt named Jemima who lives in your fridge/cupboard and enjoys slathering herself all over your waffles and pancakes? If so, you may want to consider sending her away to live with someone else. In this article I want to undress a popular table syrup, Aunt Jemima, and compare it to the all-natural wonders of pure maple syrup. There is a HUGE difference. Let’s find out what it is. 

First up, let’s undress Aunt Jemima to see if she looks good naked ;-)

Ingredients: Glucose, glucose-fructose, water, cellulose gum, natural and artificial flavour, salt, caramel colour, sodium benzoate, sodium hexametaphosphate, sorbic acid, sulphites.

Let’s break these ingredients down:

Glucose and glucose-fructose: These two ingredients make up the majority of this product. Glucose is often derived from corn and is another way of saying corn syrup. Glucose-fructose is actually high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS). In Canada we label HFCS as glucose-fructose, which seems like tricky business to me. Why not just call it what it is? HFCS is made from cornstarch and is liquid. To make it they break down the corn into small molecules of glucose. Then they chemically change half of the glucose molecules into fructose. The majority of corn these days is genetically modified. In addition, this is an extremely processed product that lacks nutrition. To put it bluntly, it doesn’t look good naked and it surely won’t help us look good naked either!

Natural and artificial flavour: When I see added flavour like this on an ingredient list I often wonder what the product would taste like without the added flavourings? These flavourings, whether natural or artificial, are made by a “flavourist”. This is a scientist who works in a lab using various chemicals to make flavours that can be added to foods to give it the desired taste. The word natural means that the chemicals have been pulled out of a natural source (e.g. spice, fruit or fruit juice, vegetable or vegetable juice, edible yeast, herb, bark, bud, root, leaf or similar plant material, meat, seafood, poultry, eggs, dairy products, or fermentation products). Artificial flavour means it is made from synthetic chemicals. Personally, I’m not a fan of either. I’d rather consume products that are naturally flavourful rather than those that derive their flavour from a man/woman in a white lab coat.

Caramel colour: This is the most common colouring agent used. It is also what gives cola its brown colour. This is made by an ammonia or ammonia-sulfite process. Animal studies published in 2003 and 2005 by the National Institute of Health’s National Toxicology Program found that carmel colour made with this process contains carcinogens. It caused cancer in some mice and rats. I should also note however, that you would have to consume a lot of it to reach the toxic levels that the animals in the test received. This is a highly processed colouring agent made from corn (in North America). It’s one I try to avoid.

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Sodium benzoate, sodium hexametaphosphate, sorbic acid: These are preservatives used to prolong the shelf life and improve stability of the product. A general rule of thumb is that if a product contains ingredients that are difficult to pronounce or look like a chemistry quiz, steer clear.

Sulphites: Added to maintain colour, prolong shelf life and prevent the growth of microorganisms. Many people experience food sensitivity reactions when consuming sulphites.

Now it’s time to see if our good friend Maple Syrup looks good naked:

Ingredients: 100% pure maple syrup.

It shouldn’t take us too long to undress this one!

When buying maple syrup make sure this is the only ingredient on the label. If you see anything else on there it’s not the real deal and you can leave it on the shelf.

Pure maple syrup is made by tapping maple trees and collecting the sap that seeps out of them. This sap is then boiled until much of the water has evaporated and it has turned into delicious syrup. It’s then bottled and ready for eating. This yummy food doesn’t need any added flavourings or colourings. It is the real McCoy! Also, because this product doesn’t contain any of the preservatives, it should be kept in the refrigerator.

It is however, high on the glycemic index, meaning it will raise your blood sugar quite quickly. Therefore it is good to consume it with a high fiber meal and consume it in moderation. Try using it on oatmeal instead of brown sugar, use it in baking instead of sugar (recipe will need to be adjusted slightly since this is a liquid), use it to candy nuts, use it to flavour tempeh, etc. The options are endless!

Nutritional Benefits: Maple syrup is an excellent source of manganese and zinc. These two nutrients have been shown to boost our antioxidant defenses, support heart health, boost our immune system, and support prostate health in men.

Looks like we have a clear winner in the looking sexy naked contest. Pure maple syrup wins by a landslide!

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Sources:
www.sugar.ca
www.cornallergens.com
www.eatrightontario.ca
www.scientificamerican.com
www.inspection.gc.ca
www.getrealmaple.com
www.whfoods.com