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The healthy secrets of maple syrup unlocked by researchers

By Nikki Bruce - 01 Apr 2011 3:10:0 GMT
The healthy secrets of maple syrup unlocked by researchers

At the 241st American Chemical Society's National Meeting in Anaheim, California, a researcher from the University of Rhode Island, Navindra Seeram revealed the 54 beneficial compounds his team have found hidden away inside pure maple syrup.

The research was supported by the Conseil pour le development de l'agriculture du Quebec (CDAQ) and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) on behalf of the Canadian maple syrup industry. Serge Beaulieu, the president of the Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers and a member of the Canadian Maple Industry Advisory Committee said that ''producers, transformers and partners of the Canadian maple industry believe that investing in maple syrup knowledge and innovation will bring the products to another level in a few years.''

Maple syrup is shaping up to be one of natures' 'super foods' as it has a host of compounds contained within it that are beneficial to people's health. Several of the compounds found within the syrup contain anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Not only do these provide benefits for those who are healthy, but they could aid in fighting cancer, diabetes and bacterial illnesses. Specifically the anti-oxidant compounds have shown to be particularly effective in the management of Type 2 diabetes. This is because the compounds inhibit two carbohydrate hydrolyzing enzymes that are attributed to Type 2 diabetes.

Interestingly, one of the compounds found has a unique structure that has never been seen in nature before. The compound is created when a farmer boils off the water in maple sap in order to get maple syrup. The researchers named the compound 'Quebecol' in honour of Quebec in Canada which is where the majority of the world's maple syrup is produced. Seeram has written a paper titled ''Quebecol, a novel phenolic compound isolated from Canadian maple syrup'' which will be published in the Journal of Functional Foods.

Despite the benefits produced by pure maple syrup, Seeram and his team are keen to express the point that people should not consume the syrup in huge quantities but should merely choose it over synthetic syrups if they are going to eat it. They are hoping that their research can form the base for further scientific investigations which may eventually see synthetic medicines created from the compounds.