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Corn syrup vs. Maple syrup — Health Impact and Nutrition Comparison

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Article author photo Victoria Mazmanyan by Victoria Mazmanyan | Last updated on October 25, 2022
Medically reviewed by Igor Bussel Article author photo Igor Bussel
Corn syrup
vs
Maple syrup

Summary

Maple syrup is naturally obtained from maple trees, while corn syrup is processed from corn starch.

Maple syrup is nutritionally more favorable, as it is higher in vitamins and minerals while being lower in net carbs and calories. Maple syrup also has a lower glycemic index.

It is recommended to reduce the intake of added sugars, including both maple and corn syrups. However, maple syrup is the less harmful alternative of the two.

Introduction

Corn syrup and maple syrup are two of the most popular sweeteners worldwide. Most people have preferences based on taste and availability, but what else sets these two sweeteners apart? In this article, we will delve into the nutritional differences between corn and maple syrups while also discussing their impact on health.

Taste and Use

Maple syrup is naturally acquired from tapping maple trees, while corn syrup is the processed end product made from corn starch.

In most recipes, corn syrup and maple syrup can be interchangeably used as sweeteners in equal portions; however, maple syrup has a distinctly different taste and smell.

The two syrups also have different physicochemical properties. For example, maple syrup might crystallize in hot temperatures, unlike corn syrup.

Nutrition

The nutritional information in this article is about dark corn syrup and plain maple syrup. Light corn syrup is very similar to dark corn syrup in nutrition, being only slightly lower in carbohydrates (1).

The infographics show the nutrition of these syrups based on a 100g serving size. However, on average, people use sweeteners in smaller amounts.

One tablespoon of corn or maple syrup weighs 20g, while one cup of these syrups is equal to approximately 320g.

Macronutrients and Calories

Corn syrup is considerably denser in nutrients, as in carbohydrates, compared to maple syrup. Corn syrup consists of 22% water and 78% carbohydrates. At the same time, maple syrup consists of 32% water and 68% carbohydrates.

Calories

Both maple and corn syrups are high-calorie foods. However, as corn syrup is higher in carbohydrates, it is naturally also higher in calories.

One tablespoon of corn syrup provides 57 calories, while the same serving size of maple syrup contains 52 calories.

Corn syrup contains 26 more calories per every 100g serving.

Carbohydrates

Corn syrup contains 15% more carbohydrates compared to maple syrup.

Corn syrup contains 15,5g of carbs per one tablespoon serving, while maple syrup has 13,4g.

Corn syrup is otherwise known as glucose syrup, as it is made by breaking down corn starch into glucose (2). Maple syrup, however, is naturally obtained from trees and consists predominantly of sucrose.

The carbohydrate content of both maple and corn syrup consists entirely of net carbs, as the two do not contain dietary fiber.

Protein and Fats

Corn syrup does not contain protein and fats as it is artificially produced. On the other hand, being a natural sweetener, maple syrup contains these nutrients but only in trace amounts.

Vitamins

Maple syrup is overall a better source of vitamins, including vitamins B1, B2, B3, and B5. Maple syrup falls in the top 10% of foods as a source of vitamin B2.

Corn syrup is richer only in vitamin B6. However, corn syrup does not cover the daily needed values of any vitamins.

Vitamin Comparison

Vitamin comparison score is based on the number of vitamins by which one or the other food is richer. The "coverage" charts below show how much of the daily needs can be covered by 300 grams of the food.
:
Contains more Vitamin B6 +350%
Contains more Choline +731.3%
Contains more Vitamin B1 +500%
Contains more Vitamin B2 +14011.1%
Contains more Vitamin B3 +305%
Contains more Vitamin B5 +56.5%
Vitamin A Vitamin E Vitamin D Vitamin C Vitamin B1 Vitamin B2 Vitamin B3 Vitamin B5 Vitamin B6 Folate Vitamin B12 Choline Vitamin K 0% 0% 0% 0% 2.8% 2.1% 0.38% 1.4% 2.1% 0% 0% 7.3% 0%
Vitamin A Vitamin E Vitamin D Vitamin C Vitamin B1 Vitamin B2 Vitamin B3 Vitamin B5 Vitamin B6 Folate Vitamin B12 Choline Vitamin K 0% 0% 0% 0% 17% 293% 1.5% 2.2% 0.46% 0% 0% 0.87% 0%
Contains more Vitamin B6 +350%
Contains more Choline +731.3%
Contains more Vitamin B1 +500%
Contains more Vitamin B2 +14011.1%
Contains more Vitamin B3 +305%
Contains more Vitamin B5 +56.5%

Minerals

Maple syrup is also richer in minerals, such as manganese, zinc, calcium, potassium, and magnesium. Maple syrup is lower in sodium.

On the other hand, corn syrup is higher in phosphorus, iron, and copper.

Mineral Comparison

Mineral comparison score is based on the number of minerals by which one or the other food is richer. The "coverage" charts below show how much of the daily needs can be covered by 300 grams of the food.
Contains more Iron +236.4%
Contains more Phosphorus +450%
Contains more Copper +194.4%
Contains more Selenium +383.3%
Contains more Calcium +466.7%
Contains more Magnesium +162.5%
Contains more Potassium +381.8%
Contains less Sodium -92.3%
Contains more Zinc +3575%
Contains more Manganese +2808%
Calcium Iron Magnesium Phosphorus Potassium Sodium Zinc Copper Manganese Selenium 5.4% 14% 5.7% 4.7% 3.9% 20% 1.1% 18% 13% 16%
Calcium Iron Magnesium Phosphorus Potassium Sodium Zinc Copper Manganese Selenium 31% 4.1% 15% 0.86% 19% 1.6% 40% 6% 379% 3.3%
Contains more Iron +236.4%
Contains more Phosphorus +450%
Contains more Copper +194.4%
Contains more Selenium +383.3%
Contains more Calcium +466.7%
Contains more Magnesium +162.5%
Contains more Potassium +381.8%
Contains less Sodium -92.3%
Contains more Zinc +3575%
Contains more Manganese +2808%

Glycemic Index

Corn syrup has a considerably higher glycemic index compared to maple syrup. The glycemic index of maple syrup is 54, while dark corn syrup has a GI of 90 (3). This means maple syrup has a low glycemic index, while dark corn syrup has a high GI value.

Surprisingly, high fructose corn syrup has been calculated to have a medium GI value of 56 (3).

If interested, you can find a detailed article about the glycemic index of maple syrup.

Health Impact

Cardiovascular Health

The 2021 Dietary Guidance to Improve Cardiovascular Health recommends minimizing foods and beverages with added sugars, such as maple and corn syrup (4).

Diabetes

As mentioned above, maple syrup has a lower glycemic index value and fewer carbohydrates compared to corn syrup.

Natural sweeteners, especially maple syrup, have been researched to reduce the development of insulin resistance and liver inflammation in diabetic rats compared to sucrose. In other words, maple syrup is a less harmful alternative to refined sugar (5).

Other lab research has found maple syrup to produce significantly lower glucose and insulin response compared to corn syrup (6).

Article author photo Victoria Mazmanyan
Education: General Medicine at YSMU
Last updated: October 25, 2022
Medically reviewed by Igor Bussel

Infographic

Corn syrup vs Maple syrup infographic
Infographic link

Macronutrient Comparison

Macronutrient breakdown side-by-side comparison
Contains more Carbs +15.7%
Contains more Protein +∞%
Contains more Fats +∞%
Contains more Water +47.2%
Contains more Other +17.5%
78% 22%
Protein: 0 g
Fats: 0 g
Carbs: 77.59 g
Water: 22.01 g
Other: 0.4 g
67% 32%
Protein: 0.04 g
Fats: 0.06 g
Carbs: 67.04 g
Water: 32.39 g
Other: 0.47 g
Contains more Carbs +15.7%
Contains more Protein +∞%
Contains more Fats +∞%
Contains more Water +47.2%
Contains more Other +17.5%

Comparison summary table

Pay attention to the rightmost column. It displays the amounts side by side, giving a clearer understanding of the difference.
Corn syrup Maple syrup
Lower in Sugar ok
Lower in Sodium ok
Lower in Glycemic Index ok
Lower in Saturated Fat ok
Lower in price ok
Lower in Cholesterol Equal
Rich in minerals Equal
Rich in vitamins Equal

All nutrients comparison - raw data values

Nutrient Corn syrup Maple syrup Opinion
Net carbs 77.59g 67.04g Corn syrup
Protein 0g 0.04g Maple syrup
Fats 0g 0.06g Maple syrup
Carbs 77.59g 67.04g Corn syrup
Calories 286kcal 260kcal Corn syrup
Fructose 0.52g Maple syrup
Sugar 77.59g 60.46g Maple syrup
Calcium 18mg 102mg Maple syrup
Iron 0.37mg 0.11mg Corn syrup
Magnesium 8mg 21mg Maple syrup
Phosphorus 11mg 2mg Corn syrup
Potassium 44mg 212mg Maple syrup
Sodium 155mg 12mg Maple syrup
Zinc 0.04mg 1.47mg Maple syrup
Copper 0.053mg 0.018mg Corn syrup
Manganese 0.1mg 2.908mg Maple syrup
Selenium 2.9µg 0.6µg Corn syrup
Vitamin B1 0.011mg 0.066mg Maple syrup
Vitamin B2 0.009mg 1.27mg Maple syrup
Vitamin B3 0.02mg 0.081mg Maple syrup
Vitamin B5 0.023mg 0.036mg Maple syrup
Vitamin B6 0.009mg 0.002mg Corn syrup
Choline 13.3mg 1.6mg Corn syrup
Saturated Fat 0g 0.007g Corn syrup
Monounsaturated Fat 0g 0.011g Maple syrup
Polyunsaturated fat 0g 0.017g Maple syrup

Which food is preferable for your diet?

ok
ok
is better in case of low diet
Corn syrup Maple syrup
Low Fats diet ok
Low Carbs diet ok
Low Calories diet ok
Low Glycemic Index diet ok

People also compare

Vitamins & Minerals Daily Need Coverage Score

The summary scores indicate the extent to which this food can fulfill your daily vitamin and mineral requirements if you consume 3 servings, consisting of 100 grams of each (an approximation of 3 serving sizes).
Vitamins Daily Need Coverage Score
1%
Corn syrup
24%
Maple syrup
Minerals Daily Need Coverage Score
10%
Corn syrup
50%
Maple syrup

Comparison summary

Which food is lower in Sugar?
Maple syrup
Maple syrup is lower in Sugar (difference - 17.13g)
Which food contains less Sodium?
Maple syrup
Maple syrup contains less Sodium (difference - 143mg)
Which food is lower in glycemic index?
Maple syrup
Maple syrup is lower in glycemic index (difference - 36)
Which food is lower in Saturated Fat?
Corn syrup
Corn syrup is lower in Saturated Fat (difference - 0.007g)
Which food is cheaper?
Corn syrup
Corn syrup is cheaper (difference - $1.2)
Which food contains less Cholesterol?
?
The foods are relatively equal in Cholesterol (0 mg)
Which food is richer in minerals?
?
It cannot be stated which food is richer in vitamins. See the charts below for detailed information. See the charts below for detailed information. See the charts below for detailed information.
Which food is richer in vitamins?
?
It cannot be stated which food is richer in vitamins. See the charts below for detailed information. See the charts below for detailed information. See the charts below for detailed information.

References

All the values for which the sources are not specified explicitly are taken from FDA’s Food Central. The exact link to the food presented on this page can be found below.

  1. Corn syrup - https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/168836/nutrients
  2. Maple syrup - https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/169661/nutrients

All the Daily Values are presented for males aged 31-50, for 2000-calorie diets.

Data provided by FoodStruct.com should be considered and used as information only. Please consult your physician before beginning any diet.