The First Nations people of eastern North America have long known about maple sap, and drank it for its fortifying qualities. They also boiled the bark of various maple species for the treatment of wounds, abscesses, and eye ailments. As you can see, the health benefits of maple have been known since the dawn of time!
The First Nations people later revealed these energizing virtues to the famous coureurs des bois. These travelling woodsmen, on their long voyages in the wilderness, drank maple bark tea and ate bannock, the native bread made of corn flour and maple sugar. It packed easily and was a handy source of quick energy for men on the move.
We now know that the First Nations and coureurs des bois were absolutely correct! Maple is a very special sugar that contains plenty of vitamins and minerals such as manganese, riboflavin, zinc, magnesium, potassium, and calcium (so important to growing bones). Researchers at Université Laval in Québec City have even recently discovered that maple syrup contains tiny agents, called antioxidants, that may protect against heart disease, diabetes, and other health problems. In fact, maple syrup holds five times more of these elements than honey.
Maple Syrup, the Choice of Champions!
Did you know that many Quebec athletes, like cyclists Simone Boilard and Hugo Houle, count on maple syrup for better performance? It’s a fact that consuming before, during, or after sport or exercise provides the carbohydrates (namely, sugar) that the body needs to maintain a good level of energy.
Clearly, maple syrup has its place in a healthy diet. It’s important, however, to consume it in moderation because, while it’s a “good” sugar, it’s still sugar!