By Colleen Lockhart
Geauga County is known as one of the best maple syrup producers in the world and although there are many imitations out there, nothing beats real maple syrup. As one of the oldest forms of sweeteners, maple syrup has health benefits as a natural alternative to cane sugar, and when used in moderation, maple syrup’s nutritional benefits include supplying minerals and vitamins, better managing blood sugar, and the ability to lower inflammation, all while helping to make recipes taste great.
Maple syrup is a natural sweetener, makes a good sugar substitute over refined sugar or artificial sweeteners and is recognized as safe by the FDA. Most artificial sweeteners can cause indigestion, gas, bloating, cramping and constipation. Maple syrup is a good alternative to keep the digestive tract in healthier shape and free from chemicals and the damage done by a high-sugar diet. Maple syrup is high in antioxidants and research suggests it may be helpful in fighting inflammatory diseases, neurodegenerative diseases that destroy motor neurons, arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease and heart disease since maple syrup supplies inflammation-reducing polyphenol antioxidants.
The nutritional profile of maple syrup provides iron, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, sodium, zinc and potassium. A quarter cup of maple syrup contains approximately 100 percent of our recommended daily allowance of manganese. It also offers riboflavin, thiamin, Vitamin B6 and niacin.
We all love maple syrup on our pancakes and waffles, but it can be used many other ways. Mix maple syrup with wholesome ingredients such as yogurt and oatmeal to make a moisturizing face mask that can be applied and rinsed after about 15 minutes, leaving softer, smoother skin, and reduced inflammation. Add maple sugar in coffee and tea, sprinkle it on oatmeal or in yogurt, and when making granola.
Maple producers and enthusiasts interested in tapping into this liquid gold to take advantage of the benefits of maple syrup will learn everything they need to know by registering for the Maple 101 Workshop on Feb. 23. The program begins at 9 a.m. at the West Woods Nature Center, 9465 Kinsman Road, Novelty. Register by contacting the Geauga County OSU Extension office at 440-834-4656.
Colleen Lockhart is a lifelong resident of Geauga County, lives in Huntsburg with husband, Richard. She retired from Geauga County Commissioners, serves on the Department on Aging Executive Board, is a board member of Middlefield Chamber of Commerce, and serves various local organizations.