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Monday 24th October 2016

Maple syrup has health benefits

5th April 2011

Maple syrup may contain more than 50 beneficial substances, each of which could have a uniquely positive effect on human health for researchers to explore, according to a recent US study.


Harvesting pure maple syrup from Quebec, Canada, researchers identified, isolated, and named 54 of the compounds.

Five of the compounds had structures never before seen by scientists.

Navrinda Seeram, an expert in plant medicine at the University of Rhode Island, said that nature was the best chemist, and that maple syrup was a champion food.

He said that, after studying maple syrup in the laboratory, he and his researchers concluded that certain compounds had antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

Some of the phenol compounds found in maple syrup inhibited two carbohydrate hydrolyzing enzymes implicated in type 2 diabetes.

Seeram said that, since inflammation had been implicated in chronic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes, as well as certain cancers and neurodegenerative diseases, maple syrup and its derivatives could theoretically even be used in the treatment of fatal diseases.

For scientists, one of the most interesting compounds is Quebecol, which has a hitherto unknown chemical structure.

Quebecol has been produced for centuries, a by-product of the boiling and condensation process used to make maple syrup.

Seeram said he believed that it was precisely the boiling of huge volumes of maple sap that created unique substances beneficial for human health.

Serge Beaulieu, president of the Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers and member of the Canadian Maple Industry Advisory Committee, said that the producers, transformers and partners of the Canadian maple industry wanted to invest money in researching the health benefits of maple syrup, in order to create new products tailored to human health.

The way the study was touted drew criticism from one of Canada's popular science pundits, however.

Joe Schwarcz, director of the McGill University Office for Science and Society, a popular science author and commentator, said that the study was only of academic interest.

He said that making a link between maple syrup and healthy eating was rumpled thinking, and that the only reason to eat maple syrup was that it tasted good.

Seeram said that few, if any, other natural sweeteners also had an anti-oxidant cocktail of beneficial compounds.

He said that, while berries contained some of the same antioxidants, and tea and flaxseed contained others, he believed people should always choose pure maple syrup over synthetic varieties due to the sheer number of health benefits it may have.

Beaulieu said that his industry organisation planned to co-operate with scientists from the Canadian Maple Innovation Network.


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