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Maple syrup has 'champion food' health benefits

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Maple syrup

Five compounds have been found in maple syrup that have never been seen in nature before. Pure maple syrup has 20 known beneficial compounds for health and now researchers have discovered 34 more, five of which have never been found in nature before. The health benefits of maple syrup are even better than previously known and might help fight cancer, types 2 diabetes and infection.


Maple syrup packed with anti-oxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds

According to University of Rhode Island researcher Navindra Seeram, 20 of the maple syrup compounds that were discovered last year play an important role in human health. He notes the sweet syrup is becoming a 'champion food" because of the health benefits.

Seeram says…”several of these compounds possess anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, which have been shown to fight cancer, diabetes and bacterial illnesses."

In new research, presented at the 241st American Chemical Society's National Meeting in Anaheim, California, Seeram and his team found phenolic compounds that have anti- oxidant properties might help fight fatal diseases from synthetic development of the molecules found in maple syrup. Seeram says, "Nature is the best chemist."

"We know that the compounds are anti-inflammatory agents and that inflammation has been implicated in several chronic diseases, such as heart disease, diabetes, certain types of cancers and neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer's," Seeram said.

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Could maple syrup fight diabetes?

Ironically, Seeram says yes, because "Not all sweeteners are created equal." The phenols in maple syrup inhibit two carbohydrate hydrolyzing enzymes that relate to managing Type 2 diabetes.

"I can guarantee you that few, if any, other natural sweeteners have this anti-oxidant cocktail of beneficial compounds; it has some of the beneficial compounds that are found in berries, some that are found in tea and some that are found in flaxseed," says Seeram who organized the "Bioactives in Natural Sweeteners" symposium at the ACS meeting as part of his diabetes research.

New compound Quebecol in maple syrup

One of the new compounds discovered in maple syrup is Quebecol that the researchers named to honor the province of Quebec in Canada that leads the world in maple syrup production. Quebecol is formed during the boiling process that concentrates sap into maple syrup. Seeram says the compound "has a unique chemical structure or skeleton never before identified in nature."

The finding that maple syrup has 54 known compounds that are known to have health benefits makes it especially appealing as a sweetener, but Seeram warns it doesn't mean consumers should over consume. When it comes to choosing a pancake topping, maple syrup is healthier than commercial syrups with corn sweetener and tastes better.

Image: Wikimedia Commons



Sounds great! I will use it!
How many TBL do you suggest for daily consumption and how much is too much?
Hi Starr: I think you should just incorporate maple syrup into your daily diet as you would any food/sweetener, etc. If you want the minerals, use some on your cereal once a day and that should give you great health benefits. I personally wouldn't consume more than a tablespoon a day, which adds 52 calories to your diet. Certainly you would consume less if you are counting calories. Enjoy!!
Does maple syrup health benefits include weight loss? If yes, how is maple syrup vs honey in terms of health benefits and weight loss? Thank you Kathleen.
Hi Alex: Both will add calories, of course. Honey is slightly higher in calories per serving. Maple syrup is healthier. It has less sugar; particularly less fructose that can be bad for heart and liver health. Honey has more vitamins; maple syrup has more minerals. It makes sense that you could eat either - in moderation. If your goal is to lower your fructose intake; avoid honey. If you want more vitamins and no fat (maple syrup has some fat), then stay clear of honey. For weight loss, you want to limit your calorie intake of course. Neither will help weight loss, but enjoying foods that are satisfying (with a touch of honey or maple syrup) can help fight cravings. And truly, we need sugar for energy. I hope that helps?