Thirteen of more than 20 compounds in Canadian maple syrup linked to human health have been discovered for the first time.
The findings were made by University of Rhode Island researcher Dr Navindra Seeram, assistant professor of biomedical and pharmaceutical sciences in URI’s College of Pharmacy.
“We already know the maple tree has strong antioxidant mechanisms,” Seeram said. “Now we are looking more closely at the tree’s sap.” Several of these antioxidant compounds are also reported to have anti-cancer, anti-bacterial and anti-diabetic properties.
Prior to the study, The Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers and the Canadian maple syrup industry knew the product was full of natural minerals and vitamins, including zinc, manganese and calcium, providing the basis for a research study with comprehensive health findings.
Seeram found the same antioxidant compounds also contained in berries, an exciting development because he would not previously have associated a sweetener with healthy biological properties.
Seeram also advised that when choosing syrup as a sweetener, it is healthier to use 100 per cent pure maple syrup. He referred to a survey which found that 50 per cent of Americans are unaware if the syrup they consume is real maple syrup or pancake syrup.
“In a certain sense, people view sap as the life blood of the tree,” Seeram said. “Maple syrup is unique in that it is the only product in our diet that comes from a plant’s sap.”
Historically, many cultures have benefited from its health benefits as a homeopathic remedy for ailments, including flu, stomach aches, high blood pressure and cholesterol. Maple syrup’s high levels of zinc and manganese can assist in heart health and boosting the immune system.
Source: OnFood, March 25 2010, http://www.onfood.com.au/Articles/tabid/58/articleType/ArticleView/articleId/456/Maple-syrup-a-disease-fighter.aspx