Honey Versus Maple Syrup

Honey and maple syrup are natural sweeteners that provide a healthier alternative to table sugar. Here is how they compare to each other in terms of production, nutritional content, health benefits, calories, and other properties. After reading this article, perhaps you'll be inspired to try honey or maple syrup on your corn flakes?


Honey is a natural sweetener that is produced by honey bees from flower nectar. The only processing that honey undergoes, aside from the bees regurgitating the nectar, is filtering to remove wax and other impurities. Maple syrup is also produced from natural ingredients (tree sap) but does require human effort to process the sap into syrup.

The aroma, color, and flavor of honey can vary considerably depending on the plant source. For example, the color of honey can range from very pale yellow through golden ambers to a darkish red amber.

Notable properties of honey include high viscosity (more so than maple syrup), stickiness, granulation tendencies, a tendency to absorb moisture from the air, and immunity from certain types of spoilage. Honey has a greater tendency than sugar maple to granulize.

Maple Syrup

Natural maple syrup is made from the sap of maple trees when the sap is rising in the early spring. It is commonly made from sugar maple, as well as red maple, and black maple trees. It takes 40 to 50 gallons of sap to produce one gallon of syrup.

After the maple sap is collected, it is boiled to evaporate the water until a specific temperature is reached. The resulting syrup will be two-thirds sugar and one-third water. The primary sugar is sucrose with lesser amounts of fructose and glucose.

Quebec is the largest producer of maple syrup in the world. In the United States, Vermont is the biggest syrup producer, followed by New York, and Maine. Connecticut, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin also produce marketable quantities.

Maple syrup is graded according to color and density. In the U.S., the two major grades are A and B with B further subdivided into Light Amber, Medium Amber, and Dark Amber. A different grading system is used in Canada. With the exception of some of the lighter color grades, maple syrup tends to be darker than honey.


A tablespoon of honey has about 64 calories whereas maple syrup has about 53 calories. However, there is generally more water in maple syrup so a lesser amount of honey will often get the job done.

Nutritional Content

Honey mainly consists of glucose and fructose. It also contains trace amounts of vitamins and minerals as well as tiny amounts of compounds that may function as antioxidants. The specific components of a particular batch of honey will depend on the flowers available to the bees that made the honey.

Maple syrup contains more minerals than honey. The primary minerals are zinc and manganese, available in nutritionally significant amounts, as well as potassium, calcium, iron, and magnesium. Maple syrup also contains trace amounts of amino acids, and various phenols which have beneficial antioxidant properties.

Health Benefits

A number of health benefits are attributed to honey including antibacterial and antifungal properties, improved body immunity due to the presence of antioxidants, inflammation control, and enhanced healing. Honey combined with milk is used to moisturize and smooth skin. Furthermore, because honey contains simpler sugars than table sugar, it is easier for the body to digest.

A number of health benefits are also attributed to maple syrup, mainly due to the zinc and manganese content. These benefits include: energy production, antioxidant defenses, decreasing the progression of atherosclerosis, bolstering the immune system, and helping reproductive health, especially for men.


Maple syrup should be stored in the refrigerator after the container has been opened to retard spoilage and preserve flavor. Honey should be stored in a dry location at room temperature; if stored in the refrigerator, it will crystallize.