Healthful Maple Syrup

By Susan Littlefield

Maple syrup is good for you. This is the kind of nutritional news we need to hear more often!

University of Rhode Island researcher Navindra Seeram, who specializes in studying medicinal plants, found more than 20 compounds in maple syrup that have been linked to human health, some of them newly discovered in the maple family for the first time. Among these new antioxidants are compounds that have been reported to have anti-cancer, anti-bacterial, and anti-diabetic properties.

Seeram notes that although these beneficial compounds are probably found in low concentrations in the tree's sap, they are likely to be concentrated when the sap is boiled down to make maple syrup. Some of the antioxidants found, called phenolics, are in the same class of healthful compounds as are found in berries. He speculates that phenolics may be formed as a defense mechanism by the maple tree in response to being wounded when a tap is inserted to gather the sap.

More research is planned to study and quantify the beneficial properties of maple syrup. In the meantime, you can feel good about dousing your breakfast pancakes and waffles with the sweet stuff. And if you're really ambitious, plant some sugar maples and make your own!

For more about the research into the beneficial compounds in pure maple syrup, go to: URI News.

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