Substantial quantities of abscisic acid, a phytohormone recognized by the
scientific community for its health benefits, are found in maple water and
maple syrup

MONTREAL, March 5 /CNW Telbec/ - Thanks to modern science, the closely guarded secrets of one of our nation's most distinctive emblems, maple syrup, are now being revealed. It has recently been reported that maple syrup contains polyphenols and shows ORAC values which compare to commonly eaten fruits and vegetables such as broccoli. Now, further research on maple syrup and its original form, maple water, conducted by Dr Yves Desjardins and his colleagues at the Institut des neutraceutiques et des aliments fonctionnels, has revealed that both products contain equally important quantities of terpenes, and in particular, abscisic acid, a phytohormone whose health benefits have only recently been discovered.

Abscisic acid in maple water and maple syrup occurs as a conjugate along with certain metabolites at concentrations that are therapeutic, according to the effective thresholds of abscisic acid (ABA) reported by Dr Guri's group in the US (Guri et al, 2007. Clinical Nutrition 26:107-116). Vegetable physiologists and botanical researchers have known about the physiological properties of abscisic acid in the vegetable kingdom for a long time, but its health benefits for humans has only recently come to light. Along with other effects, it is known to stimulate insulin release through pancreatic cells and to increase sensitivity of fat cells to insulin, which makes it a potent weapon against metabolic syndrome and diabetes. According to Geneviève Béland, Director of Promotion and Market Development for the Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers, "These findings show that maple products contain a whole host of complementary active elements. The sugar molecules which provide the energy and sweetness in maple products are inherently complemented by abscisic acid molecules because they encourage insulin homeostasis. Further studies are obviously needed before we can more accurately understand how eating maple products affects insulin behaviour. Studying maple products is of particular interest to the food science sector when we consider that all the bioactive molecules of the sugar maple are carried in its sap and that these molecules are forty times more concentrated in maple syrup."

The detailed results of the study will be presented by Dr Desjardins at the Emerging Topics in Health Effects of Fruits and Vegetables symposium which forms part of the 28th International Horticultural Congress in Portugal, August 22-27, 2010. The study was financed by Agriculture and AgriFood Canada as part of its support programs for science and innovation which are aimed at encouraging collaboration between the agricultural and industrial sectors, the government and universities so that new opportunities for strategic innovation are identified quicker.

Quebec and Canadian maple products will also be in the spotlight in a seminar presented by Dr Navindra Seeram from the University of Rhode Island at the national meeting of the American Chemical Society taking place in San Francisco from March 21-25 of this year. According to Serge Beaulieu, president of the Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers and member of the Canadian Maple Industry Advisory Committee: "A new era is starting for Quebec and Canadian maple products in which our national emblem will be the pride and joy of this country and abroad because of the vitality that maple represents as one of the world's great products. The Quebec and Canadian maple industry will create an international research network for maple with the best research units dedicated to maple, as well as investing in collaboration with different bodies such as Agriculture and AgriFood Canada so that we can add value to the gastronomic and health benefits that maple products bring. With maple being featured at these two scientific conferences it signifies the next stage in a historic strategic step for the industry."

About Dr Yves Desjardins

Dr Yves Desjardins has been professor at the Department of Phytology at Université Laval since 1991. He's an active member of the Centre for Horticultural Research (CRH) where he conducts research work on fruit and market garden horticulture along with more fundamental research on the ecophysiology of in vitro cultures. After heading up the CRH of Université Laval from 1992 to 2002, he now studies the effects of fruits and vegetables on health. As Academic Director of INAF (Institute of Nutraceuticals and Functional Foods), he organized FAVHEALTH 2005 in Quebec, the first international symposium on the effects of fruit and vegetables on health, which brought together researchers from the horticulture and health sectors - nutritionists and clinicians - for the first time. He has recently been appointed President of the Commission Fruits and Vegetables and Health within ISHS, the International Society for Horticultural Science.

Dr Desjardins is an important collaborator in the International Network for Maple Innovation coordinated by the Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers for the Canadian maple industry. He has directed, or is a member of, several Quebec and Canadian high profile networks. His work has resulted in the publication of more than sixty scientific articles and many book contributions, including a recent chapter on the role and physiological function of bioactive molecules in plants.

About the FPAQ

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 businesses. These men and women are working together to collectively market their products. The quality of their work and their products has made Quebec the producer of close to 80% of today's global maple syrup output.

/NOTE TO PHOTO EDITORS: A photo accompanying this release is available at http://photos.newswire.ca. Images are free to accredited members of the media/

SOURCE Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers

For further information: For further information: Johannie Coiteux, Promotions and Communications Agent, Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers, (450) 679-0540 ext. 8609, jcoiteux@upa.qc.ca

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Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers

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