Does Maple Syrup Really Have Health Benefits?
According to Time Magazine, “For some 300 years, sugaring stuck close by that rural idyll. Early settlers in the U.S. Northeast and Canada learned about sugar maples from Native Americans. Various legends exist to explain the initial discovery. One is that the chief of a tribe threw a tomahawk at a tree, sap ran out, and his wife boiled venison in the liquid. Another version holds that Native Americans stumbled on sap running from a broken maple branch.”
Kate Pickert, a writer from Time Online explained that, “From the 17th century onward, dairy farmers who wanted to supplement their income from milk — or who just needed a source of sweetener that was better and cheaper than sugar or molasses — drilled small holes in the trees during the brief weather window between winter and spring (Sap typically runs out of maple trees on days when the temperature is around 40 degrees following a night when the mercury dropped below freezing).
The farmers called the maple tree stands "sugar bushes" and hung buckets under the drilled holes. Every day or two — depending on how fast the sap was running out of the trees — the farmers would empty out the buckets into larger containers or tanks and haul the watery substance to a "sugar house," usually built in the woods. Here's where the magic happened.”
In addition, she said that, “It takes about 40 gallons of sap to make one gallon of maple syrup because sap is about 98% water. Sugar makers boiled off most of the water over a wood fire — what they were left with was brown sweet syrup.
Some sugar makers heated the sap further, turning it into crystallized sugar. Over time, the industry evolved enough that companies from Quebec to Vermont produced ready-made "evaporators," essentially giant frying pans with fire boxes built underneath.”
That’s how tedious it is for maple syrups to be obtained from trees. That’s a lot of time and hard work! Moreover, The Globe and Mail reported that, “Geography allowed Canada to be the global superpower of sap, producing about 80 per cent of world output. Within this empire, Quebec sits at the pinnacle, generating 90 per cent of their nation's production.”
Did you also know that this sweet syrup has exceptional health benefits? According to the USDA, 100 grams of the product contains the following:
Calcium: 7% of the RDA
Potassium: 6% of the RDA
Iron: 7% of the RDA
Zinc: 28% of the RDA
Manganese: 165% of the RDA
But remember that maple syrup is also sugar, and consuming too much excess sugar is severely damaging to your health; vessels, arteries, heart wall tissue, and brain tissue are all affected.
Healthline, however, reported that maple syrup contains 24 different antioxidants:
“Oxidative damage is believed to be among the mechanisms behind ageing and many diseases.
It consists of undesirable chemical reactions that involve free radicals... that is, molecules with unstable electrons.”
Antioxidants are substances that can neutralize free radicals and reduce oxidative damage, lowering the risk of some diseases. Several studies have found that maple syrup is a decent source of antioxidants. One study found 24 different antioxidant substances in maple syrup.
The darker syrups (such as Grade B) contain more of these beneficial antioxidants than the lighter syrups. However, same as with the minerals, the total amount of antioxidants is still low when compared to the large amounts of sugar it contains.
One study estimates that replacing all refined sugar in the average diet with "alternative" sweeteners, like maple syrup, would increase the total antioxidant load of the diet similar to eating a single serving of nuts or berries.
If you need to lose weight or improve your metabolic health, you would be better off skipping caloric sweeteners altogether instead of going for a ‘less bad’ version of sugar.”
This is why maple syrup was picked for use in this recipe, instead of the regular commercial sugars.
Commercial Salmon Fillets and the Fresh Catch
We already know that salmon is a nutritious source of protein and omega 3 and 6 fatty acids in an optimal ratio - not the best ratio, but very good none the less. Algal DHA actually has the best ratio of omega 3:6 roughly 1:2 and 1:1. Salmon's health benefits are owed to algal DHA. Now, we need to know what difference it makes when buying a fresh catch vs. a frozen commercial one.
Molly Watson of The Spruce, wrote an article entitled, “Is Fresh Salmon Always Better Than Frozen?” to explain that:
“The best fresh salmon is actually fresh, never frozen, and wild-caught. Look for fish with firm, brightly colored flesh. Whole fish are the best, because you can look into their eyes. No joke. Clear, plump eyes are a supreme sign of freshness in a fish (those with cloudy or sunken eye are best avoided).
Fresh fish should also smell fresh, like the sea and not really fishy at all.
If you can give the fish a poke, the flesh should bounce back when you do so. Don't buy fish that feels soft, mushy, or doesn't spring back into shape. Like cloudy eyes, it's a sign that the fish isn't fresh.
If you're like me, you'll also want to look for wild-caught salmon for the best flavor and sustainability (Great strides have been made in making farmed salmon more sustainable, but it still uses more small fish to create each pound of salmon and some farms use antibiotics, and have questionable containment practices that risk letting farmed species mix with wild ones).
Once it's frozen, the classic signs of fresh fish listed above won't do you much good. Yet it is often easier to get clear information about frozen fish, since it frequently has an actual label.
Look for wild-caught fish from a sustainable fishery—fisheries up and down the Pacific coast of North America are well-managed.”
Huffpost, however has a different perspective on the fresh vs. frozen salmon debate. Dan Shepley of the Daily Green said that:
“Air-freighting salmon, and any food, results in substantial increases in environmental impacts. If more frozen food were consumed, more container ships would be used to ship food. Container ships are by far the most efficient and carbon-friendly way to transport food. Globally, the majority of salmon fillets are currently consumed fresh and never frozen. In fish-loving Japan, which gets much of its fish by air, switching to 75 percent frozen salmon would have more benefit than all of Europe eating locally farmed salmon.”
This argument is looking at the environmental impact and not just from a health perspective so really both arguments are substantiated and accurate. This creates one of the grand moral dilemmas for us as humans. Where do we draw the line for our own wants and needs and at what cost the environment do we do so?
Facts About Glazing as a Culinary Procedure
“Glazing works best over thicker cuts of meat and chunky tofu-based dishes, such as pork tenderloin, pork chops, tofu burgers and ribs,” said Kimberley Stakal in her article, Guide to the Grill.
To add to that, she says, “The glaze is a thick, rich sauce brushed onto meats, roasts and big ol’ chunky foods as they are cooking on the grill. Often sweet and spicy by nature, common glazes include barbecue sauces, honey sauces and fruit sauces. Make a glaze with fruit jams and jellies, whisked into a small amount of oil, water and seasonings like brown sugar, cayenne and dried herbs. Apple butter, pineapple juice, honey, fig jam and strawberry jelly are all common bases for a sweet, delectable glaze. Whatever your mix, aim to get your glaze the consistency of barbecue sauce, and slather it over your grilled entrée every now and again as it cooks over the hot coals.”
Now, we’ll use this culinary technique in making the recipe below:
Maple Garlic Glazed Salmon1/3 cup Ontario maple syrup
¼ cup light soy sauce
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes, optional
1 scoop Momental Mind Unflavored
3 tablespoons sesame oil
4 salmon fillet with skins, patted dry
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 cloves garlic, grated
1 lime, sliced into rounds
- In a medium bowl whisk maple syrup, light soy sauce, lime juice, red pepper flakes, and nootropic powder.
- In a non-stick pan, over medium heat, heat oil and add salmon fillet, skin-side up and season with salt and pepper.
- Cook salmon until golden, approximately 6 minutes, and flip. Add a drizzle of sesame oil if dry.
- Add garlic to the pan, pour maple mixture, and add sliced lime.
- Cook until sauce is thickened or reduced. Baste fish with the maple sauce.
- Garnish with left over lime rounds and serve.