Is Maple Syrup Low FODMAP?

Is Maple Syrup Low FODMAP? (Expert Guidance on Maple Syrup and IBS)

If you’re following a low FODMAP elimination diet, you may find yourself searching for ways to safely satisfy your sweet cravings – and wondering, is maple syrup low FODMAP?

Pure maple syrup happens to be one of my personal favorite low FODMAP sweeteners for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)!

In this article I’ll share some fun, creative ways you can safely enjoy maple syrup on a low FODMAP diet.  I’ll also teach you how to watch out for maple syrup “imposters” – and what could be going on if maple syrup seems to be giving you diarrhea (despite being low in FODMAPs).

Let’s dive in!

Disclaimer:  This article was written for educational purposes, not to be taken as medical/nutritional advice. Consult your doctor and a gut health dietitian nutritionist to receive custom dietary guidance tailored to your individual needs. 

Understanding FODMAPs

As a quick review, FODMAPs (fermentable oligo-, di-, mono-saccharides, and polyols) are a group of fermentable short-chain carbohydrates and sugar alcohols that people with IBS and/or small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) have difficulty digesting.

For folks with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or other gastrointestinal sensitivities, FODMAPs can trigger digestive distress in the form of diarrhea, bloating, gas, and/or abdominal pain.

The low FODMAP diet is designed to help alleviate these symptoms by reducing the intake of high-FODMAP foods.  (Get the full low-down on the low FODMAP diet here!)

Maple syrup composition

Maple syrup is a natural sweetener made from the sap of maple trees.

Its primary composition consists of water, sucrose, glucose, and a small amount of fructose.

Sucrose and glucose are low FODMAP, while fructose is higher in FODMAP content – which is why maple syrup is considered a low FODMAP sweetener in certain quantities.

How much maple syrup is low FODMAP?

According to Monash University, the leading authority on the low FODMAP diet, pure maple syrup is considered low FODMAP in small servings of 2 tablespoons (40 milliliters).

However, it’s important to note that larger quantities can become high FODMAP due to the accumulation of fructose.

Maple syrup benefits

Compared to table sugar, studies have found real maple syrup to be significantly higher in antioxidants and minerals, lower in glycemic index (the rate at which a food raises blood sugar levels), and overall more beneficial for gut health. (1, 2, 3)

Choosing the right maple syrup – beware of imposters!

Beware of maple syrup imposters like “pancake syrup”!  This may look and taste similar, but it’s not the same thing as 100% real maple syrup.

These commercial products are usually made with high-fructose corn syrup (a very high FODMAP sweetener) and/or other additives, which can increase the FODMAP content – not to mention feed certain types of “bad” microbes in your gut.

Always check the ingredient list on the back of the product, and opt for 100% pure maple syrup to ensure it fits into your low FODMAP diet.

Low FODMAP maple syrup recipes

Feel free to try out some of these sweet low FODMAP recipes featuring real maple syrup:

I also sweeten my coffee with real maple syrup instead of sugar each morning, since it’s healthier from a holistic gut health nutrition standpoint. (Give it a try and let me know what you think!)

Low FODMAP sweetener alternatives to maple syrup

While maple syrup can be enjoyed in moderation on a low FODMAP diet, it’s also a good idea to explore other sweeteners so you’re getting dietary variety and figuring out what works best for your taste buds & your digestive system!

Here are a few examples of low FODMAP alternatives to maple syrup you can try:

  • Brown sugar
  • Turbinado sugar
  • Organic stevia extract
  • Organic monk fruit extract

(Get a full list and more details on how to navigate low FODMAP sweeteners here.)

Maple syrup and IBS: Frequently asked questions (FAQ’s)

Why is maple syrup low FODMAP?

Maple syrup is made up of mostly sucrose, glucose, and water.  It contains only small amounts of fructose (a high FODMAP form of sugar).

So in servings of 2 tablespoons or less at any given time, you won’t consume a significant enough amount of fructose in maple syrup to trigger a reaction, even if you have a fructose intolerance.

Can maple syrup cause diarrhea?

Yes.  Since maple syrup is a type of food high in sucrose, maple syrup may trigger diarrhea in folks with an underlying sucrase-isomaltase enzyme deficiency, which means your body isn’t able to break down sucrose.

(You may also hear a sucrase-isomaltase deficiency referred to as a sucrose intolerance. It’s very similar to a lactose intolerance except you’re reacting to sucrose instead of lactose!)

If you notice you feel worse on a low FODMAP diet, and maple syrup seems to give you diarrhea, you may want to consult your doctor about testing for sucrase-isomaltase deficiency.  (Read more about sucrase-isomaltase deficiency here.)

In very rare cases, it’s also possible to have a food sensitivity to maple syrup. (This is something that would show up on a Mediator Release food sensitivity test or an ALCAT food sensitivity test!)

Even if you don’t have a sucrose intolerance, keep in mind “pancake syrup” (a cheaper, synthetic version of maple syrup) is usually made with high fructose corn syrup which is very high FODMAP and can cause diarrhea if you’ve got a fructose intolerance.

Does maple syrup cause inflammation?

Maple syrup is not a pro-inflammatory food.

However, due to bio-individuality, it’s still possible to experience diet-inflammation from virtually any food.

For example, in cases of sucrose intolerance and/or a food sensitivity to maple syrup, it’s possible to experience diet-induced inflammation from consuming maple syrup.

Final thoughts

Maple syrup is low FODMAP in small quantities of up to 2 tablespoons at one time, making it a safe sweetener to try on your low FODMAP elimination diet.

It’s also antioxidant-rich, lower glycemic, and more nutrient-dense compared to other low FODMAP sweeteners so it can make a great staple – whether atop some low FODMAP pancakes, in your morning coffee,  or in low FODMAP dessert recipes.

Remember to stick to the recommended serving size of up to 2 tablespoons (40ml) and choose real maple syrup without any added ingredients.

As always, individual tolerances may vary.  Make sure to listen to your body and consult with a healthcare professional such as a registered dietitian before making any significant changes to your diet!

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2 thoughts on “Is Maple Syrup Low FODMAP? (Expert Guidance on Maple Syrup and IBS)”

  1. Minor correction in serving size: Monash University in Australia says maple syrup is low FODMAP in a serving size of two Australian tablespoons which is 2.7 US tablespoons – a little bit more for those striving for every little bit of maple syrup.

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