Is oatmeal and maple syrup healthy?

Oatmeal and maple syrup are two popular breakfast foods that are often enjoyed together. Oatmeal is made from oat grains and can be prepared in various ways, while maple syrup comes from the sap of maple trees. Both foods contain some nutrients but also have high amounts of sugar and calories. Determining whether oatmeal and maple syrup is a healthy breakfast choice requires looking at the nutritional pros and cons of each ingredient.

Is Oatmeal Healthy?

Oatmeal contains some beneficial nutrients but can vary in healthiness depending on how it is prepared. Here is a breakdown of the pros and cons:


  • High in soluble fiber – Half a cup of oats contains 4 grams of fiber, mostly soluble. This type of fiber can help lower cholesterol and control blood sugar levels.
  • Contains protein – Oatmeal provides about 5 grams of protein per half cup serving. This gives a balanced start to the day.
  • High in manganese and phosphorus – Oats are a good source of the minerals manganese and phosphorus which are important for bone health.
  • Gluten-free – Oats are naturally gluten-free. This makes them a good choice for anyone avoiding gluten.
  • Filling – The fiber in oatmeal helps it be more filling and can curb appetite later in the day.


  • Higher glycemic index – Steel cut and rolled oats have a glycemic index around 55, which causes a faster rise in blood sugar compared to low glycemic foods.
  • Higher calories – A half cup of dry oats contains about 150 calories. Prepared oatmeal can be 300+ calories with added ingredients.
  • Low in other nutrients – Oats only provide small amounts of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants compared to fruits and vegetables.
  • Often high in added sugars – Pre-packaged flavored oatmeals can contain 12-15 grams of added sugars, cancelling out benefits.

Overall, plain oatmeal made from either steel cut or rolled oats is a fairly healthy choice for breakfast due to its fiber, protein and mineral content. The main downsides are its higher glycemic index and calorie content. Eating oatmeal with fruit or nuts can maximize the nutritional value. However, flavored instant oatmeals high in sugar should be minimized.

Is Maple Syrup Healthy?

Maple syrup contains some beneficial compounds, but its high sugar content outweighs its advantages. Here is an overview of the pros and cons:


  • Contains antioxidants – Maple syrup provides antioxidants like polyphenols and flavonoids that can help reduce oxidative damage.
  • Rich in manganese and zinc – Maple syrup contains decent amounts of the minerals manganese and zinc which support immune function.
  • Some calcium and potassium – Maple syrup has small amounts of the electrolyte minerals calcium and potassium.
  • Natural sweetener – Since it comes straight from maple sap, it is less processed than table sugar or high fructose corn syrup.


  • High in sugar – Maple syrup is about 60% sucrose. Half a cup contains over 50 grams of sugar.
  • High glycemic index – Maple syrup has a glycemic index of about 65 which can spike blood sugar quickly.
  • High in calories – Half a cup of maple syrup is nearly 650 calories, mostly from sugar.
  • Low in nutrients – Aside from some minerals, maple syrup does not provide much nutritional value.

The bottom line is that while maple syrup does contain some beneficial antioxidants and minerals, its very high sugar and calorie content make it hard to recommend as a healthy choice. Using small amounts of 100% pure maple syrup can provide flavor with minimal drawbacks, but large servings add excess sugar and calories.

Nutrition Comparison of Oatmeal and Maple Syrup

Looking at the nutrition information of oatmeal and maple syrup side-by-side can give a clearer picture of their healthiness:

Nutrient Oatmeal
(1/2 cup)
Maple syrup
(1/4 cup)
Calories 150 218
Total Carbs 27 g 54 g
Fiber 4 g 0 g
Protein 5 g 0 g
Sugar 1 g 53 g

This comparison shows that oatmeal is significantly lower in calories, carbs and sugar compared to an equal serving size of maple syrup. Maple syrup contains no fiber or protein. Oatmeal provides both nutrients, which helps slow digestion and keep you feeling fuller longer after eating it.

Are Oatmeal and Maple Syrup Healthy Together?

Combining plain oatmeal with a small amount of maple syrup can make a fairly balanced healthy breakfast. The fiber, protein, and nutrients in the oatmeal can help regulate blood sugar response and keep you satisfied. The maple syrup adds trace minerals and antioxidants, as well as flavor.

However, there are some factors to consider when adding maple syrup to your oatmeal:

  • Use moderate portion sizes – Limit maple syrup to 1-2 tablespoons to keep calories and sugar in check.
  • Avoid “maple-flavored” syrups – Choose 100% pure maple syrup to get the most benefits instead of corn syrup blends.
  • Skip instant flavored oatmeals – Pick plain oats or make your own mix-ins to control sugar content.
  • Include protein – Top oatmeal with nuts, seeds, milk or Greek yogurt to balance the meal.
  • Watch your blood sugar – Monitor for spikes, especially if diabetic or pre-diabetic.

Pairing plain oatmeal with a small drizzle of maple syrup can be a low-glycemic breakfast compared to many cereals or bakery items. But drenching oatmeal in large amounts of syrup significantly increases the sugar and calorie load. Those with diabetes also need to be cautious of blood sugar rises.

Healthier Oatmeal Topping Alternatives

For those looking to keep sugar content low, there are many healthy alternatives to maple syrup that can be used on oatmeal:

  • Fresh fruit – Bananas, berries, peaches, apples or other fruits add fiber, vitamins and natural sweetness.
  • Nuts and nut butters – Walnuts, almonds, pecans or nut butters like almond or peanut butter provide protein and healthy fats.
  • Seeds – Chia, hemp and flax seeds boost fiber and omega-3s.
  • Spices – Cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, cardamom add flavor without sugar.
  • Extracts – Almond, vanilla, orange or mint extracts provide sweetness.
  • Yogurt – Plain Greek yogurt has protein, calcium and probiotics.
  • Shredded coconut – Dried coconut gives a subtle sweet flavor.

These mix-ins can make oatmeal tastier while adding more nutrients and health benefits. Fruits like bananas and berries add lots of fiber, vitamins and antioxidants. Nuts and seeds provide filling protein and healthy fats. Spices, extracts and flavors like coconut offer natural sweetness with no added sugar.

Healthy Oatmeal and Maple Syrup Recipes

Using the principles discussed, here are some healthy oatmeal recipes with maple syrup:

Maple Cinnamon Oatmeal:

  • 1/2 cup dry rolled oats
  • 3/4 cup milk or water
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp pure maple syrup
  • Pinch of salt

Cook oats in milk or water. Remove from heat and stir in maple syrup and cinnamon. Sprinkle with salt.

Apple Maple Overnight Oats:

  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 apple, chopped
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp chia seeds
  • Pinch of nutmeg

Combine all ingredients in a jar or container. Refrigerate overnight.

Maple Banana Oat Bake:

  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1 overripe banana, mashed
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts

Mix oats, banana, maple syrup, milk, baking powder and salt until combined. Pour into greased baking dish, top with walnuts. Bake at 350F 15-20 minutes until set.

These recipes keep maple syrup portions small to balance the oatmeal’s nutrition. Combining oats with bananas, apples, yogurt, nuts and spices results in a healthier breakfast overall.

The Bottom Line

Oatmeal and maple syrup can be part of a healthy diet in moderation. Plain oatmeal offers filling fiber, minerals and plant-based protein. Maple syrup provides a small amount of antioxidants. When paired, oatmeal boosts the nutrition while maple syrup adds flavor. However, maple syrup’s high sugar content should be limited to 1-2 tbsp portions. Avoid pre-flavored oatmeals high in added sugars. Instead, choose basic oats and mix with fruits, nuts and spices to keep breakfast balanced. With controlled portions, oatmeal and maple syrup together can be a decently healthy combo.

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