The Sugar Wars: Maple Syrup vs. Brown Sugar

May 05, 2018

The Sugar Wars: Maple Syrup vs. Brown Sugar

Not familiar with how Brown Sugar is really made? Interested in how these two compare on health benefits, calorie content, and more? Dig in to learn how these two compare...

Flavor Profile 

Maple syrup has caramel notes along with the woodsy maple flavor that you might expect from a maple syrup product. Maple syrup can have a complex flavor with notes of vanilla, cinnamon and even hazelnut.

Brown Sugar, made from sugar cane, has the caramel notes but not the maple notes. It gets its flavor from its molasses content that is reintroduced to the cane sugar after processing, which is what gives it its brown color. In addition to the caramel-heavy molasses flavor notes, it can have a mildly metallic aftertaste.

Health Benefits

Glycemic Index 

The glycemic index defines foods by how quickly it causes your blood sugar to rise. Sugars naturally rank higher on the glycemic index, however, maple syrup is clearly the better option as it has a lower glycemic index than cane sugar. 

Real Maple Syrup has a glycemic index of 54. Maple syrup is define as having a "medium" index.

Brown Sugar has a glycemic index of 64 and is defined as having a "medium" index.

Minerals & Antioxidants 

Real Maple Syrup is full of antioxidants that are anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, and anti-bacterial. An article published by that describes Real Maple nutrition even explains that "Researchers have also recently discovered that maple syrup is a source of phenolics, a class of antioxidants that are found in berries."   

Real Maple Syrup has significantly more calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, zinc, copper, and manganese than Brown Sugar. These minerals do great work for your body including things like cell formation, maintaining healthy red blood cells, and immune support. 

The chart below shows syrup winning in a head to head on mineral activity. 


Brown Sugar does contain trace amounts of vitamins B3, B6, and B9. 

Maple Syrup also contains Vitamin B5. However, Maple Syrup contains four times more riboflavin, also known at Vitamin B2, which is also important for energy production. Maple Syrup also contains thiamin or Vitamin B1. Maple Syrup also has a number of vitamins including niacin, B5, B2, folic acid, B6, biotin and vitamin A which insist in things like energy metabolism and vision.

Additional Nutritional Facts

In a head to head on calorie content, 1 teaspoon of brown sugar contains 17 calories while 1 teaspoon of maple syrup contains 52 calories.


Real Maple Syrup is a straight-from-nature product that has a rather simple process flow. Sap is taken from a tapped maple tree and then boiled into a concentrated syrup. That's it!

Brown Sugar is produced by adding sugar cane molasses back into completely refined white sugar. This creates the soft and moist brown sugar that you are familiar with. Dark brown sugar contains about 6.5% molasses while light brown sugar contains around 3.5% molasses. 

(Image credit: Christine Gallary)


When replacing Brown Sugar with Real Maple Syrup the replacement is a simple 1:1 ratio.

Winner: Real Maple Syrup

While the flavor profile is a bit similar and Brown Sugar's calorie content is lower, Maple Syrup's health benefits and straight-from-nature refinement process make Maple the obvious winner in this head to head!

Disclaimer: We are not encouraging you, the consumer, to put more sugar in your diet. Instead, we are suggesting that when you do choose sugar, choose real maple, the best alternative.


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