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Why Use Maple Sugar Instead of Other Sweeteners?

maple sugar

When we were deciding which type of sweetener to use in Willa's Barista and Willa's Organic Dark Chocolate Oat Milks, the decision to use maple sugar was a no-brainer. It is unmatched when it comes to sustainability and health, as well as adding a subtly sweet taste.

As a reminder, Willa's Unsweetened Original has just 1 g of sugar from the oats, and Willa's Barista has 3 g of sugar. Willa's Dark Chocolate is a bit more indulgent and needed a bit of sweetness to match the delicious chocolatey Raaka un-roasted cacao

Have you ever tapped or seen someone tap a maple tree to make maple syrup? If you have, you know the process is as close to nature as it gets!

At Willa’s, our values around sustainability, health, and taste guide every decision we make. We prioritize using ingredients that are non-GMO, certified organic, and sustainably sourced, as well as delicious, as that is a non-negotiable! 

Why do Willa's Dark Chocolate Oat Milk use maple sugar instead of cane sugar?

We use organic maple sugar to bring out the warm brownie-like notes from the Raaka cacao we use. The combination is absolutely delicious! And maple sugar is less sweet than other sugars, as well as the overly processed oat sugar you get with other brands. It's more subtle. Never cloyingly sweet.

Plus, it has nutritional benefits. There's a reason why maple sugar and maple syrup are Cleveland Clinic's favorite sweeteners. Maple sugar also has nutritional benefits including antioxidants, minerals like Magnesium and Zinc, and vitamin B6. These antioxidants can help protect against numerous diseases. They work by fighting off free radicals in the body. Magnesium can strengthen the immune system. And honestly, what more could we want right now? Zinc has a positive effect on our health and can even “protect and prevent various cardiovascular disorders.” 

In addition, maple sugar has a lower glycemic than other sweeteners, which means it doesn't spike your blood sugar as much as other sugars. In other words, less sugar spike and crash! 

Why do some oat milks have 8-10 g of sugar per cup, but no sugar in the ingredient list?

They take the oat starch and process it heavily to make it super sweet. This super sweet oat sugar is maltose, which has a glycemic index of 98!

Maple sugar has glycemic index is 54, while cane sugar has a glycemic index of 65 or more and maltose sugar, which is the highly processed oat sugar you find in other oat milks, has a glycemic index of 105. 

Willa's has just 1 g of maltose sugar per cup from the oats because we process the oats as little as possible. 

What makes maple sugar so sustainable?

While people are avoiding cane sugar more and more for health reasons, many are unaware of how sugar cane negatively impacts the environment where it's grown. For example, in Australia, fertilizers and pesticides are used to grow the best sugar cane crop, which leads to deadly runoff, harming its surrounding environment. “The excess nitrogen in the fertilizers… [is] responsible for over 40% of coral loss on the Reef.”  Does this mean that by drinking Willa's Barista and Dark Chocolate we are helping to save the Great Barrier Reef? We'll leave that up to you to decide. The point is, the Great Barrier Reef is an example of one of many areas in danger. To improve soil health and ecosystems, we choose to use organic ingredients that are sustainably sourced.

The actual process of harvesting and cooking down maple syrup to sugar is much more environmentally sustainable than growing sugar cane. Maple trees can be grown without pesticides. Pesticides can have a harmful effect on their surroundings and soil health. Not using pesticides allows for the area surrounding the maple forest to continue to prosper. That's why, at Willa's, we use USDA Certified Organic ingredients

In addition, maple trees can be tapped for generations, which can help to limit deforestation and promote forest land. So, instead of cutting trees down, maple farms can actually foster healthy trees! On top of being sustainable for the environment, sugaring, the process of tapping Maple trees or bushes, can be sustainable for local businesses. While we could partner with a multi-million-dollar cane sugar company, we focus on small Vermont maple sugar businesses, specifically sustainable ones in order to support businesses making an impact. 

How does this affect the taste?

Okay, now for the million dollar question, how does it taste? Amazing! Using maple sugar instead of cane sugar introduces a whole new note of caramel into the oat milk. With maple sugar, we deliver a rawer sweetness as opposed to the in-your-face, high-in-sugar taste that cane sugar delivers. And we love that brownie-like quality you get from combining it with Raaka Peruvian un-roasted cacao!

 Photo credit: Nabil Boukala

To order, Willa's Dark Chocolate Oat Milk, head over here.

Shop Willa's Barista here.

Wondering how much sugar is in oat milk? Check out our post here.

Wondering how Willa's use of the whole grain oat affects our nutrition facts? Check out our post on what makes whole grain oat milk healthier here!

Wondering why we use organic ingredients? Check our our post here.