Low FODMAP diets are often recommended for people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or other digestive issues. FODMAPs stands for fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols. These are types of carbohydrates that can be hard to digest for some people, leading to gas, bloating, pain and other IBS symptoms.
When following a low FODMAP diet, high FODMAP foods are eliminated or reduced for a period of time, then gradually reintroduced. This helps identify problem foods. Syrups are one category of foods that may need to be swapped for low FODMAP versions.
Quick Answers on Low FODMAP Syrups
– Maple syrup is low FODMAP in servings of 2 tablespoons or less. Larger portions may be high FODMAP.
– Golden syrup and dark corn syrup are low FODMAP.
– Agave nectar is low FODMAP.
– Honey is high FODMAP, unfortunately, so maple syrup or agave nectar make good alternatives.
– Molasses contains FODMAPs so is not recommended on a strict low FODMAP diet.
– Artificial sweeteners like Equal and Splenda are low FODMAP.
Maple syrup, made from the sap of maple trees, is one of the most popular pancake toppings and natural sweeteners. The good news is that it can be low FODMAP in moderate amounts.
According to Monash University, 1-2 tablespoons (15-30 ml) of maple syrup is low FODMAP. Larger servings of 3 tablespoons (45 ml) or more are high FODMAP.
This means pancakes with maple syrup can make a great breakfast option on a low FODMAP diet. Just drizzle on 1-2 tablespoons of maple syrup and enjoy! Stick to appropriate serving sizes.
Maple syrup contains sugars including sucrose, glucose and fructose. Sucrose and glucose are low FODMAP, while excess fructose is high FODMAP. Small amounts of maple syrup provide plenty of flavor and sweetness without going over the fructose limits.
Benefits of Maple Syrup
Maple syrup offers some beneficial nutrition too. It provides manganese, riboflavin, zinc, magnesium, potassium and calcium. Maple syrup has antioxidant compounds like quebecol, which comes from the maple species of tree.
Compared to regular sugar or corn syrup, maple syrup has more minerals and antioxidants. So when used sparingly, maple syrup can be a nutritious sweetener on a low FODMAP diet.
Golden Syrup and Dark Corn Syrup
Golden syrup is made from sugarcane and is popular in Commonwealth countries, especially as a topping for foods like pancakes, waffles and porridge. Dark corn syrup is made from cornstarch.
The Monash app lists golden syrup and dark corn syrup as low FODMAP ingredients. This makes them suitable for recipes when you need a liquid sweetener.
These syrups are made up of sucrose and glucose. Sucrose is a disaccharide made from glucose and fructose, while glucose is a simple sugar. Neither sucrose or glucose are FODMAPs, so these syrups get the low FODMAP designation.
Dark corn syrup has a more pronounced caramel flavor, while golden syrup is light in flavor with a golden color. Use them anywhere you need a smooth, sweet syrup.
Comparison of Golden Syrup vs. Honey
Honey is high FODMAP, since it contains excess fructose. Golden syrup makes a good replacement in recipes when you want that viscosity and sweetness that honey provides.
Compare a few specifics:
– Golden syrup is low FODMAP, honey is high FODMAP.
– Golden syrup is mildly flavored, honey has a bold flavor.
– Golden syrup has a light color, honey ranges from light to dark.
– Golden syrup is less expensive than honey.
– Honey provides more nutrients like antioxidants.
So golden syrup works well when you need a sweet syrup with mild flavor for baking or drizzling. Honey is a more nutrient-rich option that can be used in small amounts by some people on a low FODMAP diet.
Agave nectar (also called agave syrup) comes from the agave plant native to Mexico. To make agave nectar, the juice from the agave plant is extracted and filtered.
The Monash app lists agave nectar as a low FODMAP sweetener. It contains fructose, but not in excessive amounts that would make it high FODMAP.
Agave nectar has a neutral, mildly sweet flavor. It works well in beverages, desserts, baking and other dishes as a smooth, pourable sweetener.
Compared to table sugar, agave nectar is lower on the glycemic index. This means it does not spike blood sugar levels as dramatically. It also contains inulin which may provide prebiotic benefits to support gut bacteria.
So agave nectar is a low FODMAP choice with neutral taste that can substitute for honey or corn syrup in recipes.
Comparison of Agave Nectar vs. Honey
How does agave nectar compare to honey? Here are some key points:
– Agave nectar is low FODMAP, while honey is high FODMAP.
– Agave nectar has a more neutral, light flavor than the bold taste of honey.
– Agave nectar has a thinner consistency than sticky, thick honey.
– Agave nectar is sweeter than honey, so you may need less of it.
– Honey has more vitamins and antioxidants than agave nectar.
Overall, agave nectar makes an excellent substitute for honey in low FODMAP recipes when you need a liquid sweetener with mild flavor and smooth consistency.
What about regular honey? Unfortunately honey is high FODMAP and not recommended on a strict low FODMAP diet.
Honey is made from the nectar of flowers and collected by bees. It contains 40-50% fructose, which is a FODMAP. Just 1 tablespoon (15 ml) of honey is considered high FODMAP.
Even though it must be avoided on a strict low FODMAP diet, some people following the diet long-term may be able to tolerate small amounts of honey. You might try adding 1 teaspoon of honey to see if you react to it.
Some tips for using honey in low FODMAP recipes:
– Swap honey for maple syrup, golden syrup or agave nectar as recipe substitutes
– Try mixing 1 teaspoon honey into a mug of warm tea or bowl of oatmeal
– Look for low FODMAP recipes that already use just a small amount of honey
While honey is high FODMAP, many people may be able to work it back into their diets in limited amounts. Be sure to monitor your reaction and avoid it if you see an increase in IBS symptoms.
Benefits of Honey
Despite being high FODMAP, honey does offer some nutritional benefits:
– Antioxidants including phenolic compounds that may have antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties
– Minerals like calcium, magnesium, potassium, zinc
– Vitamins like vitamin B2, B3, B5, B6
– Enzymes that aid in digesting sugars
In limited amounts, honey can provide useful nutrition like antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. But it still cannot be considered low FODMAP due to its high fructose content.
Molasses is a byproduct of the sugar making process from sugarcane plants. It is a thick, brown syrup with a robust bittersweet flavor.
Unfortunately molasses is not low FODMAP. It contains excess polyols like sorbitol that can trigger digestive issues.
Monash University lists just 1 tablespoon (15 ml) of molasses as high FODMAP. Even small amounts could lead to unpleasant symptoms.
If you follow a strict low FODMAP diet, molasses should be avoided completely. But those who have been reintroducing high FODMAP foods may find they can tolerate small amounts.
Here are some tips for working molasses into a low FODMAP diet:
– Substitute maple syrup or golden syrup for molasses in recipes
– Try mixing just 1 teaspoon molasses into muffin or cookie batter
– Look for low FODMAP recipes that only use a small amount of molasses
Due to its robust, bittersweet flavor, a little molasses goes a long way. But it still cannot be considered low FODMAP at any serving size.
Nutrition of Molasses
Like honey, molasses can offer some nutritional value:
– Rich in minerals like iron, calcium, magnesium, vitamin B6
– Contains selenium, antioxidants
– High quality carbohydrates for energy
If you do not react to molasses, using it in moderation may provide useful vitamins and minerals. But it should be avoided by those with IBS and digestive issues due to the FODMAP content.
Artificial sweeteners like aspartame, saccharin and sucralose are low FODMAP. Brand examples include Equal and Splenda.
These zero-calorie sweeteners add sweetness without fermentable carbohydrates that trigger IBS issues. The Monash app gives the green light to artificial sweeteners.
Here are some tips for using artificial sweeteners on a low FODMAP diet:
– Use to sweeten beverages like coffee, tea, lemonade
– Add to desserts, sauces, salad dressings
– Sprinkle on oatmeal, yogurt, fruit
– Use in baking to replace sugar
Just keep in mind that artificial sweeteners provide no nutritional value. Consuming them long-term may impact gut bacteria diversity. But they can be helpful in the short term while on the low FODMAP elimination phase.
Making Low FODMAP Syrups
You can also make your own customized low FODMAP syrups:
– Infuse water or tea with allowed fruits like blueberries or strawberries. Mash the fruit and strain out pulp.
– Simmer maple syrup with ginger pieces, cinnamon, star anise or vanilla bean. Strain out solids.
– Make simple syrup by boiling equal parts sugar and water. Cool and use in drinks or desserts.
– Flavor syrup with lemon, lime, orange or other low FODMAP citrus fruits. Can add zest too.
– Sweeten nut milks like almond or coconut milk. Heat with cinnamon and ginger, then blend until smooth.
Get creative with simple syrups flavored with spices, extracts, zests or allowed fruits and veggies. These homemade syrups let you control the ingredients.
Having to avoid honey and other high FODMAP sweeteners may seem limiting at first. But there are many low FODMAP syrup options so you do not have to give up flavorful pancake toppings and sweet sauces.
Maple syrup, golden syrup, dark corn syrup and agave nectar are all low FODMAP alternatives with different flavor profiles. You can also make your own customized syrups to satisfy that sweet craving in a gut-friendly way. Carefully reintroducing honey in small amounts may even be possible after the elimination phase.
By finding suitable sweeteners like low FODMAP syrups, it is possible to follow the diet without feeling deprived. Pay attention to serving sizes and amounts of syrups used for the best chance of remaining symptom-free. With so many gut-friendly syrups and sweeteners to choose from, you can still enjoy delicious foods on a low FODMAP diet.