The rates of obesity and people who are considered overweight are steadily on the rise and the Health Survey for England reveals that, currently, almost three-quarters of adults in England aged 45-74 are considered obese or overweight.

One of the major factors causing the growth of obesity levels is an increased consumption of high-fat and high-sugar foods that are readily available and mass-produced. What’s more, an increase in sedentary lifestyles among adults and children has further compounded the issue.

To reduce obesity levels across the population, consumers need to start looking at fat and sugar alternatives in their diet. And now this couldn’t be easier, as a first-of-its-kind clinical nutrition study has shown a breakthrough – demonstrating maple syrup’s benefits to cardiometabolic health as a natural alternative to refined sugar.

This highlights a huge opportunity for change in the food processing industry. Results of the study reveal that, by substituting just 5% of the daily energy provided by added sugars with the equivalent two tablespoons (30ml) of maple syrup, it can decrease the cardiometabolic risk factors in overweight adults.

The eight-week, double-blind, controlled, crossover trial was conducted on 42 adults with mild alterations in their cardiometabolic profiles with an average BMI of 28kg/m2. The adults replaced 5% of their daily added sugar intake with maple syrup or one serving of flavoured sucrose syrup as the placebo. Their cardiometabolic risk factors and fecal microbiota compositions were assessed before and after each intervention phase.

Up until now, there has been no randomised controlled trial on the impact of replacing refined sugars with maple syrup on intestinal microbiota and cardiometabolic risk factors in humans. This makes this trial the first of its kind to show how maple syrup could exert such beneficial effects in humans.

Previous animal studies have reported that maple syrup, a minimally transformed sugar and source of polyphenols, could be less detrimental than refined sugars on metabolic health, notably by exerting a prebiotic-like action. However, this study is the first in showing a similar effect in human subjects, representing a major advance for not only the maple syrup industry, but also for people with cardiometabolic risk factors.

Maple syrup is more than just a sweetener – it lessens liver damage and homeostasis (blood sugar regulation) as well as containing over 100 compounds, vitamins, minerals, amino acids and phytohormones and 67 polyphenols. This is certainly something for the food processing industry to think about when considering alternatives to refined sugars.

Will you be looking to replace refined sugars with maple syrup in your recipes? Or maybe you already do? If so, we’d love to hear from you. And if you’d like to rent a kitchen, get in touch today to learn more about our state-of-the-art kitchen space.