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Ask Tufts Experts February 2014 Issue

Q. I am changing all my recipes from sugar to honey and pure maple syrup. Which one has the most nutrients?

A. “Sugar is sugar is sugar,” cautions Diane L. McKay, PhD, an assistant professor at Tufts’ Friedman School about making such a switch. “Per tablespoon, granulated (table) sugar has no vitamins or minerals, and honey has slightly higher, but still negligible amounts, while the same amount of maple syrup actually has about 15% of the Daily Value (DV) for riboflavin and 30% of the DV for manganese. Honey and maple syrup also contain several different phytochemicals, although the amount of each that they provide in a single serving is quite low (it is unclear if these low quantities would have any health benefit at all).

“Although none of these foods should be considered an important source of any nutrients or phytochemicals for the amount of calories they contain—i.e., they are all low in nutrient density—among them maple syrup might be the wiser choice.”

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