April 6th, 2011
By: Jonathan Benson
Put down the corn syrup-laden Aunt Jemima and reach for some 100 percent pure maple syrup. New research recently presented at the 241st annual meeting of the American Chemical Society in Anaheim, Calif., highlights the amazing health benefits of maple syrup, including its ability to help treat diabetes and prevent the onset of cancer.
Navindra Seeram and her colleagues from the University of Rhode Island last year discovered that maple syrup contains 20 unique health-promoting compounds, 13 of which have never before been identified in maple syrup. And according to a release from United Press International, five of the compounds identified have never been previously identified in nature at all.
“I continue to say that nature is the best chemist, and that maple syrup is becoming a champion food when it comes to the number and variety of beneficial compounds found it in,” said Seeram in a statement. “It’s important to note that in our laboratory research we found that several of these compounds possess antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, which have been shown to fight cancer, diabetes and bacterial illnesses.”
Maple syrup is already known for being rich in vitamins and minerals, but now it has become clear that the natural sweetener is loaded with a host of powerful, disease-fighting antioxidants. And among maple syrup’s various health-promoting compounds is a newly-identified one the team named Quebecol, which is a compound uniquely created when Maple tree sap is boiled and turned into syrup.
“Quebecol has a unique chemical structure or skeleton never before identified in nature,” Seeram said. “There is beneficial and interesting chemistry going on when the boiling process occurs. I believe the heat forms this unique compound.”
In its current work, the team also found that certain antioxidant phenolic compounds in maple syrup inhibit carbohydrate hydrolyzing enzymes associated with the onset of type-2 diabetes. So while maple syrup may typically be considered a sugary threat to diabetes, the new research seems to indicate otherwise.
Seeram’s work, which was funded by the Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers, is set to be published in the Journal of Functional Foods.