Could Our Maple Syrup Be the Next Superfood?

Maple Syrup May Pack Similar Health Benefits to Those Found in
Berries, Tea, Red Wine and Flax Seed - This Is Not an April Fool's Joke

LONGUEUIL, QC, April 1 /CNW Telbec/ - There's more good news about pure maple syrup. Researchers from the University of Rhode Island (URI) have now identified 54 compounds in Canadian maple syrup, double the amount previously reported, and many with antioxidant properties and potential health benefits. In laboratory studies, they acted as anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory agents. Initial studies also suggest that maple compounds may inhibit enzymes relevant in Type 2 diabetes management.

These new findings were presented on March 30th at the annual meeting of the American Chemical Society in Anaheim, CA, during a day-long session exclusively examining the bioactive compounds found in natural sweeteners. The session was organized and chaired by Dr. Navindra Seeram, assistant pharmacy professor at URI and a lead scientist on the maple syrup research team.

According to the URI research team, maple syrup contains a cocktail of polyphenol compounds, including several with antioxidant properties and many with well-documented health benefits. "We found a wide variety of polyphenols in maple syrup, said Seeram. It is a one-stop shop for these beneficial compounds, several of which are also found in berries, tea, red wine and flaxseed, just to name a few. Not all sweeteners are created equal! When choosing a sweetener, pure maple syrup is a better choice because of the range of antioxidant compounds not found in other sweeteners."

"These new scientific findings underscore the nutritional message whereby food that undergoes little to no processing provides greater health benefits, said very enthused dietitian Hélène Laurendeau. 100% pure Maple syrup is a natural, non-refined product, which gives it an edge over other sweetening agents. We have reason to be proud of our maple syrup, whose unique flavour makes it a versatile addition to countless culinary creations."

Maple syrup may prove to be relevant in Type 2 diabetes management, although the findings must be verified in clinical trials. "We discovered that the polyphenols in maple syrup inhibit enzymes that are involved in the conversion of carbohydrates to sugar, said Seeram. In fact, in preliminary studies, maple syrup had a greater enzyme-inhibiting effect compared to other healthy plant foods such as berries, when tested on a dry-weight basis. By 2050, one in three people will be afflicted with Type 2 diabetes, and more and more people are looking for healthier diet, so finding a potential anti-diabetic compound in maple syrup is interesting for the scientific community and consumers."

Quebecol: A polyphenol specific to maple on our radar

Five of the 54 antioxidants in maple syrup were identified for the first time in nature and are unique to the natural sweetener. Among the five new compounds, one polyphenol is of particular interest. Given the common name of Quebecol, in honor of the province of Quebec, this compound is created during the process of boiling down maple sap into maple syrup. "We don't know yet whether the new compounds contribute to the healthy profile of maple syrup, but we do know that the sheer quantity and variety of identified compounds with documented health benefits qualifies maple syrup as a superfood," commented Seeram. Some of his findings were recently published in the Journal of Functional Foods. Dr. Seeram's work was made possible thanks to the financial support of The Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers, the Conseil pour le développement de l'agriculture du Québec (CDAQ) and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) on behalf of the Canadian Maple Syrup Industry.

Attendees at the American Chemical Society's annual meeting also heard promising results from other Canadian researchers who are studying the health benefits of maple syrup. Dr. Yves Desjardins, professor at Université Laval's Plant Science Department and an active member of the university's Centre de recherche en horticulture, is particularly interested in maple syrup and sap. His research reveals that these homegrown products boast high levels of abscisic acid, a promising phytohormone that could provide health benefits. Indeed, abscisic acid is known to stimulate the release of insulin by pancreatic cells and increase fat cell sensitivity, as well as promoting muscle sugar absorption, thereby acting as a potential therapeutic agent against metabolic syndrome and diabetes.

"Part of our New Generation of Maple 2020 strategy is to work with talented scientists to discover and share more knowledge about maple syrup. We are excited that this line of research receives interest from all over the world," says Serge Beaulieu, President of the Federation and member of the Canadian Maple Industry Advisory Committee. We are also very happy that our efforts and the results of this research are contributing to the branding of agri-food products from Canada and Quebec on international markets. »

Geneviève Béland, Promotions and Market Development Director for the Federation, adds: "Given its amazing potential for human health and interesting nutritional value, it is a natural choice for people looking to eat well." The Federation's members produce about 80 percent of the worldwide supply of the natural sweetener.

About the Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers
The Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers was founded in 1966 with the mission of defending and promoting the economic, social and moral interests of its 7,400 maple family farms businesses. These men and women are working together to develop quality standards, create knowledge and market their products. Quebec is responsible for 93 percent of Canada's production and close to 80 percent of today's global maple syrup output. As such, the Federation is proud to lead scientific research in the name of the entire Canadian maple syrup industry. Ontario, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia contribute 7 percent of the total Canadian production. For more information about maple syrup, please visit www.maplesyrupfederation.ca

The University of Rhode Island's research was made possible through the funding of the Federation, the Federation, Conseil pour le développement de l'agriculture du Québec (CDAQ), an organization funded by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) and AAFC through the "Growing Canadian Agri-Innovations" program.

Click here to see a video of Dr. Navindra Seeram and Dr. Yves Desjardins at The American Chemical Society's Annual Meeting discussing the groundbreaking new health findings surrounding maple syrup from Canada.

SOURCE FEDERATION OF QUEBEC MAPLE SYRUP PRODUCERS

For further information:

Bridget Ann Peterson
Massy-Forget Public Relations
514-842-2455, ext. 26 or 514-377-1752
bapeterson@mfrp.com

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