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Maple tree: a source of natural and healthy sugar

Maple tree belongs to the genus Aceraceae having more than 200 species of shrubs. The literature depicts that the maple tree has 128 species and thousands of varieties found in the northern hemisphere of the world. Their fossil records enlighten the 100 million years history of the maple tree. The ornamental morphology of the maple tree along with maple syrup and its uses in the wood industry encourages people to maple plantation. 

Maple Tree Importance:

Maple is the tree of magic. It is a tree having the capability of producing the sugary sap called the maple syrup. Maple syrup has the taste of table sugar infect it has more sweetness than simple sugar. The trend of the world should be changed about utilizing sugar as sugar mills use numerous chemicals for sugar production. These chemicals have a very bad effect on human health; so we can say that maple syrup is the sugar of the future (future sugar). 

Benefits:

The presence of antioxidant in maple sugar enhances its importance in the scientific world. Some prominent health benefits are listed below;

Maple tree as an Anti-oxidant:

Antioxidants are substances (vitamins and nutrients) that have the ability to reduce oxidative damage by neutralizing the free radicals. Maple syrup contains 54 types of different antioxidant compounds, which are very helpful for the proper and normal growth and functioning of the human body. 

Medical Importance:

The literature showed that maple syrup contains a “quebecol” compound that is specified for reducing the growth of cancerous cells. It can also minimize the chances of disease like diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and degenerative disorder.

Maple sugar contains 2/3rd sucrose than the table sugar and due to less diabetes, it is quite suitable for the people who are suffering from diabetes because it raises the b1ood sugar slowly than the table sugar. 

Maple tree- a substitute for honey and sugar:

Maple syrup can substitute honey, agave syrup, table sugar, and brown sugar because it has an equal quantity of sweetness as the honey and agave syrup contains. Even though, some scientist observed the maple syrup prior to the table sugar and brown sugar for sweetness.

Nutritional Importance:

Maple syrup contains more sweetness than sucrose. In addition, 100 grams of the syrup contains 7% calcium, 6% potassium, 7% iron, 28% zinc, and 165% manganese. Moreover, it has the ability to slow down the breakdown of carbohydrates in the body thus, save energy. As for as the energy contents in maple syrup are a concern, their concentrations are listed below; 

CompoundsEnergy (calories)
Maple syrup217
Honey261
Agave syrup256
Table sugar196
Brown sugar211

Collection of Maple Syrup from maple tree:

The maple syrup is collected from the sap of the maple tree. The best time for collecting maple sap is during the spring season when night temperature along with soil water status lowers down. At that weather conditions, day temperature reaches a maximum, which creates pressure on the sap and pushes it down to the tree that enables it easy to collect. The sap of the tree is collected for 12 to 20 days. This process is carrying on until March to April depending upon the climatic conditions of the region. 

The attached diagram is depicting the phenomenon based on a collection of maple syrup from the maple tree‘s sap.

maple syrup making procedure

After harvesting the maple sap from maple trees, the maple sap is shifted into the sugar house, where it is boiled to get real maple syrup. During this process, the density of maple syrup goes too high on boiling. Continue boiling, until the desired ratio (1:40 Liter) of maple syrup and sap of the tree is achieved. After the evaporation, the final product should be stored in a bottle or canned before use it.

Adaptability challenges of a maple tree in Pakistan:

Maple syrup is the natural and cheapest substitute for cane sugar. Furthermore, its processing is quite easy than the other source of getting sugar. Like the world, Pakistan has the great potential of producing maple syrup from the maple tree. Unfortunately; in the meantime, this method of obtaining sugar is not used in Pakistan. While, Pakistan has large forests of the maple tree in Abbottabad, Hunza, Gilgit, Skardu, Swat, Dir, and Chitral. In addition, the prevailing climatic conditions of these areas are quite favourable to maple tree production. Thus, the potential is there for the production of the sugar and if we pay a little attention to this source. We should be able to the quality sugar production to meet sugar demand without challenging human health in near future. In this way, we can reduce the load on the agriculture sector.

Rizwan Maqbool, Muhammad Talha Aslam*, Imran Khan and Burhan Khalid 

Department of Agronomy, University of Agriculture, Faisalabad

Correspondence email: talhaaslam613@gmail.com

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