Golden syrup, a product manufactured in England, is a cane sugar syrup. Its nutritional profile is virtually identical to that of table sugar, or sucrose. Golden syrup has a warm caramel taste and lends authenticity to British desserts, and some American grocery stores stock it in their baking or specialty foods aisles. Consume sugar and golden syrup in moderation, because they contribute nothing to the diet other than empty calories.
Golden syrup is a refined sugar product that contains invert sugars. An invert sugar syrup is made by splitting sucrose into its component molecules, glucose and fructose. The invert syrup is then mixed with a sucrose syrup, and the result has a smooth, honeylike texture, explains Lyle's Golden Syrup, the primary manufacturer of golden syrup. Sugar and golden syrup both consist of 50 percent glucose and 50 percent fructose. In sugar, all the fructose and glucose molecules are chemically bonded together as sucrose, while golden syrup contains some unbound glucose and fructose.
Your body processes the carbohydrates in golden syrup and in sugar very similarly, and the two have nearly identical glycemic index (GI) scores. The glycemic index rates how quickly carbohydrate foods raise blood glucose levels after consumption. Golden syrup rates 63 on the glycemic index, while sugar rates anywhere from 60 to 68. The Glycemic Index Foundation considers food with values above 70 to be high GI, while foods under 55 are low GI.
Golden syrup has 60 calories and 17 g of carbohydrates per 1 tbsp. serving. By weight, it has 2.9 calories per gram. Table sugar has 49 calories and 12.6 g of carbohydrates per tbsp. and 3.8 calories per gram. Golden syrup has more calories by volume and sugar has more calories by weight. Since the two are so similar, there's no real nutritional advantage in using one over the other.
Uses of Golden Syrup
The "Harry Potter" novels and films have brought golden syrup into the public eye in America. Treacle tart, Harry Potter's favorite dessert, is a simple, sweet pie made from golden syrup and breadcrumbs baked in a pastry crust. Another classic British treat, flapjacks, uses golden syrup melted with butter to bind oats into a chewy cookie bar. Save these fun desserts for special occasions, as both are high in sugar and calories.
- Glycemic Index: Golden Syrup, Sugar (Sucrose)
- Oregon State University, Linus Pauling Institute; Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load; Jane Higdon, Ph.D.; 2005
- "Bon Appetit"; Bar None; Molly Wizenberg; February 2010
- The Cook's Thesaurus; Liquid Sweeteners; Lori Alden
- Lyle's Golden Syrup: Our Syrups
- "The Observer"; Nigel Slater's Classic Treacle Tart; Nigel Slater; January 2011
- USDA Nutrient Data Laboratory: Sugars, Granulated