Is tapioca syrup healthy?

Is Tapioca Syrup better than Maple Syrup?

Maple syrup is preferable to white sugar as it is richer in antioxidants, but that’s not very difficult. It’s also been eaten for centuries as a traditional food, perhaps even longer, since the native Americans were producing maple syrup when the Europeans arrived in the Americas. A recent study identified 54 phenolic compounds in real maple syrup, including one dubbed quebecol that actually forms during the process of boiling sap down into syrup. Since honey owes its unique metabolic effects to the presence of dozens upon dozens of phenolic compounds, I would guess that maple syrup is one of the safer sweeteners. When it comes to sugar, all maple syrups, regardless of the grade, are almost entirely sucrose. Maple syrup, however, is darker, richer, more complex, and contains more minerals (and, probably just like the darker honeys, more phytochemicals). Make sure you get real maple syrup, not just “syrup”, however it is still sugar.
Tapioca (also known as cassava, manioc, mandioc, or yucca) is a root native to tropical areas of South America. The tapioca syrup we use is made by converting the raw root into syrup through the use of natural enzymes. This process is known as enzymatic hydrolysis. After enzymatic hydrolysis is complete, a sweet syrup is formed. The syrup is considered to be a healthy sweetener. Typically, tapioca syrup is a light golden colour, and it contains a neutral flavour. The neutral flavour makes it an ideal candidate as a food additive. The flavour is not beany, and the texture is not grainy like some other syrups. It can be added to soy and dairy products. There are many uses for tapioca syrup. It is used as an alternative sweetener in place of corn syrup, honey, sugar or maple syrup. Compared to maple syrup, tapioca syrup is lower in carbohydrates – but this difference is negligible. I would select the syrup you prefer the taste of.

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The Next Generation of Food Sweeteners

Head to the grocery store, and you’ll see countless sweetener options — in both the “real” sugar and non-nutritive sweetener categories. You’ll also see many of these sweeteners popping up as ingredients in foods you regularly eat.

“It’s wonderful that we’re finding creative ways to use plants to make our foods more delicious and interesting,” says Sara Haas, RDN, a culinary dietitian in Chicago. While some newer sugars tout antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, it’s important to remember they still count as added sugar in your diet — and should be limited to no more than 10 percent of your daily calorie intake, per the 2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. So for a 2,000-calorie daily diet, that would be about ¼ cup of added sugar, which may seem like a lot, but adds up quickly in foods. Want the scoop on a handful of newer sweeteners? Here you go!

1. Date Syrup Can Be a Good Alternative for Agave and Honey Lovers

This sweetener is made from dates, offers rich caramel notes, and boasts some nutrients, says Sharon Palmer, RDN, author of Plant-Powered for Life, who is based in Bradbury, California. In a 1 tablespoon (tbsp) serving, for example, you’ll get 2 grams (g) of fiber, as well as a very small amount of potassium, magnesium, and phosphorous. Nutrition info from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) shows that calorie for calorie, it’s about the same as agave syrup and honey — but with slightly less sugar than both, making it a somewhat better choice for people with diabetes, although moderation is still key. “I like date syrup as a sweetener in smoothies, granola bars, and even some baked goods,” says Haas.

RELATED: A Detailed Guide to Honey and Its Possible Health Benefits

2. Molasses Provides an Earthy Flavor in Pork Dishes

What’s old is new when it comes to sweeteners — and more and more chefs are using molasses, which Haas says offers an earthy taste. “Light molasses is a flexible option, but dark molasses boosts flavor more and pairs well with strong spices, like ginger, cinnamon, allspice, and nutmeg, in baked goods like gingerbread cookies as well as BBQ sauces,” says Michele Redmond, RDN, a culinary nutritionist in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Pick up a bottle of your favorite BBQ sauce, and it might very well be made with molasses! “Blackstrap molasses is less sweet and the most concentrated option, but its smoky and bitter flavors limit it as a substitute,” adds Redmond. “It shines in baked beans, dark breads, and some pork dishes.” The blackstrap variety offers minerals such as iron, potassium, calcium, and magnesium, according to the USDA.

3. Monk Fruit Extract Is a Creative Way to Sweeten Your Coffee

“Originally, non-nutritive sweeteners were predominantly used to decrease the sugar content of sweet foods for people with diabetes or people looking to cut calories and lose weight,” says Lauren Harris-Pincus, RDN, author of The Protein-Packed Breakfast Club, who is based in Green Brook, New Jersey. “Over the years, many new options have emerged as consumers continually evolve their taste preferences and perceptions about which sweeteners are acceptable. Naturally derived sweeteners such as monk fruit have gained popularity recently with the rise of the clean-eating trend.”

When it comes to sweetening with monk fruit, a little goes a long way because it has a high sweetening power. “Monk fruit extract can be found in many different forms, from syrups to crystals that are similar to table sugar,” says Amanda Hibshman, RDN, who is in private practice in San Diego. “So it has different culinary applications, from baking to using it in your coffee.”

RELATED: The Best and Worst Sweeteners for Weight Loss

4. Coconut Sugar Makes for a Great Substitute for Sugar in Baking

This sweetener naturally contains a small amount of potassium and comes from the nectar of the coconut tree’s palm blossom. Compared with table sugar, it has 19 less calories per tbsp — and a one-teaspoon serving is considered FODMAP friendly (meaning it may help with digestion) and a safer option for people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). “It has a lower glycemic index than traditional table sugar, so it may be a better alternative for people with diabetes, though research is mixed on this,” says Mary Ellen Phipps, MPH, RDN, who is in private practice in Houston. “I advise clients to try it and see how blood sugar levels respond. Some people notice a difference and others do not.” In baking, you can sub it cup for cup for table sugar, Phipps says.

5. Sugar Alcohols Such as Erythritol Are Good Options for People Managing Diabetes

“Naturally found in fruits, sugar alcohols are a fabulous option to provide sweetness to foods without added calories,” says Harris-Pincus. “But not all are the same. Anyone who has ever eaten too much sugar-free candy knows it can cause some unpleasant gastrointestinal side effects. That’s because the sorbitol traditionally used to sweeten candies can have a laxative effect.”

These days, you’ll often find erythritol on ingredient labels, such as those of ice cream–like products. “It tends to be better tolerated than other sugar alcohols because most of it is absorbed in the small intestine,” says Harris-Pincus. “So only a small amount reaches the colon, reducing its laxative effect. As with anything, tolerance will vary with individuals and portion size is an important factor.”

Erythritol is found in granular and powdered form and can be used for baking or sweetening beverages. According to the American Diabetes Association, sugar alcohols, including erythritol, can be good for people with diabetes because they contain fewer calories and affect blood sugar less than traditional sugar.

RELATED: The 5 Best Sugar Substitutes for People With Type 2 Diabetes

6. Fruits as Sweeteners Offer Extra Nutrients That Your Body Needs

More and more, you’ll see yogurts sweetened with just fruit and spices, as well as snack bars made with just fruit and no added sugar. “Consumers are pushing for more natural products, so using fruit as a sweetener is certainly an attractive option,” says Harris-Pincus. “The bonus is some extra vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, and antioxidants contained in the whole fruit, versus the sucrose or high-fructose corn syrup often found in processed foods.” In your own home, try sweetening a homemade smoothie or a yogurt parfait with just fruit — as well as a dash of cinnamon or unsweetened cocoa powder for additional sweetness, if you desire.

7. Tapioca Syrup Can Make for a Good Alternative to Corn Syrup

Made from cassava, this natural sweetener has a neutral taste. Redmond says it’s available in several varieties, some with calorie counts close to that of agave syrup and honey, and some with about 20 calories less per tbsp. “For sweetness, tapioca syrup can work as a corn syrup replacer,” says Redmond. Think of substituting tapioca syrup in recipes for homemade lollipops, for example. “Some versions tend to be a bit more viscous, which is good for binding certain baked goods like granola bars.”

RELATED: Which Sugars Are Good for You — and Which Ones to Avoid

8. Invert Sugar Offers a Smooth Mouth Feel in Baked Goods

“If you’ve eaten jam, sorbet, or ice cream, you’ve likely eaten invert sugar without knowing it,” says Redmond. “Invert syrup is simply sugar that’s split into liquid fructose and glucose by an enzyme or acid. Because jam often has sugar and an acidic ingredient, invert sugar is an ingredient. If you like to make ice creams, sorbets, caramels, and hard candies, make invert sugar a pantry staple, since it helps prevent and control crystallization of these and gives them a smoother mouth feel.”

In baked goods, there could be a benefit to using invert sugar over table sugar. In a study published in March 2018 in the Journal of Nutrition & Food Sciences, cake made with invert sugar lost about 20 percent of its sugar content through the baking process — while cake made with table sugar lost only about 6 percent of its sugar content. Invert sugar is also helpful for making candies. Hibshman says homemade simple syrup, made with heated water and sugar, contains a level of invert syrup.

Despite the dangers that sugar poses to sedentary folks, early studies suggest that it’s mostly OK for athletes who need quick, easily digested fuel. The sweetener powers your cells and is the main source of energy for your brain and muscles. But remember these two important rules: First, you need a sports-performance product only if you’re exercising for longer than 90 minutes. Second, sugar comes in many forms, so it’s important to know exactly what you’re taking in while training and racing. And remember: the whole point of con­suming performance fuels is for the carbohydrates, so low-calorie ­options featuring sugar substitutes like aspartame, sucralose, stevia, and xylitol don’t make much sense. If there’s any time when it’s ­appropriate—or at least acceptable—to have real sugar, it’s during a hard workout.

Science of Sweet

Why you should stop eating sugar now.

See more→

Dried Cane Syrup

What it is: Basically table sugar (a.k.a. sucrose) processed slightly differently. The same is true of evapor­ated cane juice, cane sugar, and sucrose syrup.
Research says: Sucrose breaks down into the simple sugars glucose and fructose, which are metabolized at different rates and provide you with a steady drip of energy.
Our take: A good option for en­durance athletes. Like all sugars, keep your daily intake well below 10 percent of your total calories to avoid health pitfalls.

Agave Syrup

What it is: A sweetener made from the nectar of the agave plant.
Research says: It’s highly processed and contains similar fructose levels to high-fructose corn syrup. Fructose is behind most of the metabolic diseases, like diabetes and obesity, associated with sugar—particularly in seden­tary people.
Our take: Stay away!

Brown Rice Syrup

What it is: Sugar extracted from starches in cooked rice.
Research says: Though brown rice syrup breaks down pri­marily into glucose, it’s a more complex carbohydrate than pure glucose (which some products use), so you’ll get less of a blood-sugar spike.
Our take: It’s better than a pure fructose sweetener but not as preferable as sucrose-based ones.

Tapioca Syrup

What it is: An extract from the starches in cassava root.
Research says: There haven’t been many studies on tapioca syrup, but it’s heavily processed and manufacturers manipulate its glucose and fructose ratios.
Our take: Until there’s more information, we’d steer clear.

Maltodextrin

What it is: A sometimes sweet, processed form of corn, wheat, tapioca, or rice starch.
Research says: It’s a more complex carbohydrate than glucose or fructose but still breaks down quickly and is absorbed into the bloodstream as glucose. It also requires less water for digestion than simple sugars, meaning lower likelihood of gastrointestinal distress.
Our take: Because of its quick absorption rate, maltodextrin is good for long training sessions, races, and recovery.

From Outside Magazine, March 2017 Filed To: Nutrition Lead Photo: Hannah McCaughey

a preferred Natural Sweetener for its Higher Nutritional Value

Organic tapioca syrup is a natural liquid sweetener made from tapioca starch. This clear, neutral-flavoured syrup adds sweetness to various foods and is used as an alternative to sucrose. This sweetener is extensively used in confectioneries, baking products and beverages for its ability to provide neutral base, which is free from any distinct colour or flavour. This can also be applied for imparting rich flavour to food products. The syrup has a very high solubility and is able to release energy almost instantaneously through the balanced distribution of simple and complex carbohydrate components. The composition of tapioca syrup is similar to that of sucrose, but it definitely possesses higher nutritional value than sugar crystals.

Tapioca syrup solids are slightly sweet, white or off-white coloured powder that are often used for bulking, through balancing of water activity and solid adjustments. This fine powder has a faint sweet aroma and enables solid bulking without using high amount of sugar. Tapioca solid is used for making beverages, yogurt, pudding, ice cream, infant rehydration formulas and many other products. The powder is hypo-allergic in nature and promotes good freeze-thaw stability. This can impart nice brown colour in food products and is compressible enough for acting as carrier in tablet applications.

Tapioca syrups provide many health benefits for their lower calories and carbohydrate contents and zero exposure to pesticides and genetic modifications. This gluten free product is low in carbohydrate content compared to sucrose. A quarter cup of tapioca syrup serving contains only 42 grams of carbohydrate in contrast to 50 grams of carbohydrate content of sugar. This amount of carbohydrate in tapioca syrup is sufficient for supplying energy, and is also helpful in reducing the blood sugar level. Similarly, this syrup is lower in calories, too. A quarter cup of the tapioca syrup contains 168 calories, compared to 194 calories of energy contained in similar size of sugar serving. This small amount of calorie difference may sound negligible, but the cumulative amount of calorie cut over the year may result in significant weight loss. Therefore organic tapioca syrup nutrition is always better and many people use it as healthy alternative to popular sweeteners.

Tapioca starch is an organic product that is extracted from cassava or yucca roots, which are developed by the organic farmers. Unlike the traditional farmers, the organic farmers do not use any pesticides, but follow the procedure of crop rotation to control weeds. They use natural predators, like birds for controlling insects. Also, the sugar crops are never genetically modified. Though the side-effects of consuming genetically modified crops are not yet completely known, it is better to avoid them for bypassing allergy and other immunity-related health problems.

Tapioca syrup provides great alternative for corn syrup, maple syrup, honey or sugars. This syrup is also used in cooking and as binding agent. For example, the syrup is used for retaining adequate moisture level in processed meats. The tapioca pearls extracted from cassava tubers are used for garnishing pies and other desserts. This can also be used in homemade drinks and smoothies for the neutral flavour it imparts to them. The syrup is commercially used for making breakfast bars, cereals and fruit drinks. It is always recommended to buy organic tapioca syrup and enjoy nature’s original flavour in your food and beverages.

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