Decoding the Distinctions: Maple Syrup vs. Honey

Maple Syrup vs. Honey – What’s the difference?

The move away from refined sugar is a popular trend as people become more aware of their dietary choices and seek healthier alternatives. Two popular alternatives to refined sugar are maple syrup and honey. While they may look similar and have a similar consistency, there are several differences between the two in terms of their origins, flavor profiles, nutritional content, and health benefits. In this article, we will explore these differences and provide you with everything you need to know about maple syrup and honey.

What is maple syrup?

Maple syrup is best known for its use on pancakes and waffles, but it can also be used to sweeten hot beverages and other foods. It is a sap extracted from maple trees that resembles liquid syrup. Maple syrup can only be obtained from maple trees, and Canada is responsible for producing over 80% of the world’s maple syrup.
Maple syrup is a 100% natural sweetener and is considered more nutritious and healthier than white sugar. It comes in different grades, which are determined by its color, ranging from light amber to dark amber. Each variety has a different flavor profile. For example, darker maple syrups have a more intense flavor compared to lighter ones.
Nutritionally, one tablespoon of maple syrup contains about 50 calories. It also provides essential minerals such as calcium, magnesium, manganese, iron, and phosphorus, as well as some antioxidants. The process of converting sap into sugar in maple trees is facilitated by warmer temperatures, and the sap is collected by drilling a hole in the tree and using a tap. The collected sap is then boiled to remove excess water and turn it into maple syrup. It takes about 40 gallons of sap to make 1 gallon of maple syrup, as the sap is only 2% sugar.
There are four main types of maple syrup: Grade A Light Amber, Grade A Medium Amber, Grade A Dark Amber, and Grade B. While all four grades contain the same amount of sugar, the difference is in the length of the boiling process, which affects the color and flavor intensity of the syrup.

Common questions about maple syrup

1. Is maple syrup vegan?
Maple syrup is considered vegan because it comes from trees and does not contain any animal products or by-products.

  1. Is Maple Syrup Paleo?
    The classification of maple syrup as paleo is controversial. Some consider it paleo because of its natural origin, while others argue that it is a form of sugar and should be consumed in moderation.
  2. Does maple syrup need to be refrigerated?
    Unopened maple syrup can be stored in the pantry for an extended period of time, but once opened, it should be refrigerated to prevent mold growth.
  3. How long will maple syrup last before it goes bad?
    Properly stored, unopened maple syrup can last for years. Glass containers are the best option for long-term storage, with maple syrup potentially lasting up to 50 years. Plastic containers can keep syrup for up to 2 years, while tin containers can keep it fresh for up to 6 months. Once opened, maple syrup can be refrigerated for up to 1 year.

What is honey?

Honey is a widely popular natural sweetener used in a variety of beverages, desserts and meals. It contains mostly sugar, with about 80% of its composition consisting of sugar. However, honey also contains some valuable nutrients and vitamins. It has antimicrobial and antiviral properties and has been used for centuries to treat sore throats, skin sores, and even the common cold.
Honey is produced by bees by collecting and storing nectar from flowers. The bees swallow the nectar and store it in their honey crop, a separate compartment in their stomach. The nectar is then regurgitated into the honeycomb inside the hive. Bees chew the nectar, using their own enzymes to break down complex sugars into simpler, more digestible sugars. Through evaporation, facilitated by the bees’ wing flapping and the design of the honeycomb, the liquid portion of the nectar evaporates, leaving behind the sweet honey.
The flavor and color of honey depends on the nectar collected by the bees. Honey can vary in flavor from light and clean to more floral notes, depending on the specific flowers visited by the bees. Honey serves as a nutritious food source for bees during the winter months.

Common questions about honey

1. Is honey vegan?
Honey is not considered vegan by many vegans because it comes from bees and is therefore an animal-derived food.

  1. Is honey considered Paleo?
    Honey is generally considered paleo, especially raw honey. However, due to its high sugar content, it should be consumed in moderation.
  2. Can honey go bad?
    Honey has a virtually unlimited shelf life when properly stored. Its low moisture content and acidic pH make it resistant to spoilage. However, over time, honey may crystallize or change in texture, but it is still safe to consume.
  3. Can I use honey as a natural remedy?
    Honey has been used for centuries for its medicinal properties. It has antimicrobial and antiviral properties and can be used to soothe sore throats, treat minor burns and wounds, and as a natural cough suppressant.

Key differences between maple syrup and honey

  1. Origin: Maple syrup is made from the sap of maple trees, while honey is made by bees from the nectar of flowers.
  2. Flavor: Maple syrup has a distinct, rich and caramel-like flavor, while the flavor of honey varies depending on the flowers the bees collected the nectar from, resulting in a wide range of flavors.
  3. Nutritional content: Maple syrup contains essential minerals such as calcium, magnesium, manganese, iron, and phosphorus, as well as some antioxidants. Honey also provides some nutrients and vitamins, but its composition is predominantly sugar.
  4. Health Benefits: Both maple syrup and honey provide certain health benefits. Maple syrup contains antioxidants and minerals that contribute to overall health. Honey has antimicrobial and antiviral properties and can be used as a natural remedy for certain ailments.
  5. Uses: Maple syrup is commonly used as a sweetener for pancakes, waffles, and other foods. It can also be used in baking and cooking. Honey is versatile and can be used as a sweetener in beverages, desserts, and various recipes. It is also used in traditional medicine and skin care.
  6. Production Process: Maple syrup is made by tapping maple trees and boiling the sap to remove excess water. Honey is produced by bees by collecting, digesting, and regurgitating nectar.
  7. Sustainability: Maple syrup production is sustainable because it involves tapping trees without harming them. Beekeeping practices can vary in sustainability depending on factors such as habitat preservation and responsible hive management.


Maple syrup and honey are natural sweeteners that provide an alternative to refined sugar. While both are similar in sweetness and texture, they differ in origin, taste, nutritional content, health benefits, and use. Maple syrup is derived from the sap of maple trees and has a distinct caramel-like flavor, while honey is produced by bees from flower nectar and has a wide range of flavors. Maple syrup contains beneficial minerals and antioxidants, while honey has antimicrobial and antiviral properties. Both can be enjoyed as part of a balanced diet, but it’s important to consider personal preferences, dietary restrictions, and the specific benefits each offers when choosing between them.


Is maple syrup the same as honey?

No, maple syrup and honey are not the same. They differ in their sources, production processes, flavors, and nutritional content.

Which is healthier, maple syrup or honey?

Both maple syrup and honey offer some nutritional benefits, but the healthier option depends on individual preferences and dietary needs. Maple syrup contains essential minerals and antioxidants, while honey has antimicrobial properties. It’s important to consume them in moderation as part of a balanced diet.

Can maple syrup and honey be substituted in recipes?

Maple syrup and honey can be used as substitutes in some recipes, but their distinct flavors can affect the final taste. It’s best to consider the flavor profile of each sweetener and choose accordingly, keeping in mind the desired outcome of the dish.

Is maple syrup vegan?

Yes, maple syrup is generally considered vegan because it is derived solely from the sap of maple trees and does not involve the use of animal products. However, individual dietary preferences can vary and some vegans may choose to avoid it for personal reasons.

Does honey have any medicinal properties?

Honey has been used for centuries for its medicinal properties. It has antimicrobial and antiviral properties and can be used as a natural remedy for soothing sore throats, treating minor burns and wounds, and as a cough suppressant. However, it’s important to note that honey should not be given to infants under the age of one due to the risk of botulism.

What is the shelf life of maple syrup and honey?

Maple syrup and honey have a long shelf life when properly stored. Maple syrup can last for several years if unopened, while honey has a virtually unlimited shelf life. Once opened, however, both should be stored properly and consumed within the recommended time frame to maintain quality and prevent spoilage.