Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


URI pharmacy researcher finds beneficial compounds in pure maple syrup

Most are disease-fighting anti-oxidants

Before you dig in to your next stack of French toast or waffles, you might want to pour on pure maple syrup.

That's because University of Rhode Island researcher Navindra Seeram, who specializes in medicinal plant research, has found more than 20 compounds in maple syrup from Canada that have been linked to human health, 13 of which are newly discovered in maple syrup. In addition, eight of the compounds have been found in the Acer (maple) family for the first time.

The URI assistant professor of biomedical and pharmaceutical sciences in URI's College of Pharmacy presented his findings Sunday, March 21 at the American Chemical Society's Annual Meeting in San Francisco. The project was made possible by Conseil pour le développement de l'agriculture du Québec (CDAQ), with funding provided by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada's Advancing Canadian Agriculture and Agri-Food (ACAAF) program.

Several of these anti-oxidant compounds newly identified in maple syrup are also reported to have anti-cancer, anti-bacterial and anti-diabetic properties.

Prior to the study, the Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers already knew that its product was full of naturally occurring minerals such as zinc, thiamine and calcium. But it enlisted Seeram to research the presence of plant anti-oxidants. The Federation awarded Seeram a two-year, $115,000 grant with the help of the CDAQ and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. His research continues to determine if the compounds exist in beneficial quantities.

Serge Beaulieu, president of the Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers, said Seeram's lab is but one in an expanding multi-national network of research facilities dedicated to the study of maple products from Canada.

"We are proud that our producers are generously supporting this research, bringing to light a greater understanding of the gastronomic and health benefits of maple products. It is not just for Canada, but for the welfare of consumers around the world," Beaulieu said.

Geneviève Béland, federation marketing director, said the group has learned that maple products are much more than sugars with only calories to contribute.

"Recent research findings, such as those by Dr. Seeram, reveal a whole array of bioactive compounds that promise to offer many health benefits," she said. "Our journey to understanding these benefits has just begun."

Seeram, who was named the 2009 Young Scientist of the Year by the American Chemical Society's Division of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, said his goal is to educate the research community and the public about the many benefits of a variety of plant and berry foods, as well as natural products. His message is receiving widespread attention. Seeram had two of the Top Ten Most Accessed Articles in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry in 2008.

"We know that plants must have strong anti-oxidant mechanisms because they are in the sun throughout their lives," Seeram said. "We already know that berries, because of their bright colors, are high in anti-oxidants.

"Now we are looking at maple syrup, which comes from the sap located just inside the bark, which is constantly exposed to the sun."

During his maple syrup research, Seeram and his research team found phenolics, the beneficial class of anti-oxidant compounds also found in berries. "We speculated that the sugar maple is wounded when it is tapped for its sap, and that it secretes phenolics as a defense mechanism."

Seeram said the sap probably has low concentrations of these native phenolics. "But when you boil the sap down, there could be higher levels because syrup is a highly concentrated liquid. Plus, the natural plant bioactives could remain intact or undergo process-induced chemical changes during the heating process resulting in further–derived bioactive compounds."

The biomedical scientist said such early research is exciting because many people would not associate such a sugary product with healthy biological properties.

"At this point, we are saying, if you choose to put syrup on your pancakes, it may be healthier to use real maple syrup," he said. "The Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers found that 50 percent of consumers don't know whether the syrup they consume is real maple syrup."

Seeram acknowledges that real maple syrup is pricier than commercial brands with maple flavoring or even those with no or very little maple syrup. "But you pay for what you get and you get what you pay for, meaning there are consequences for what you eat.

"We know that anti-oxidants are present in the leaves, bark and twigs of the maple tree, so looking at the sap make sense."

Seeram now has a sugar maple tree trunk sitting in his lab so he can begin a more comprehensive study of the entire tree.

"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 commercial product in our diet that comes from a plant's sap. This is a niche resource for northeast North America. Canada is the biggest producer of maple syrup and the United States is the biggest consumer."

Dave Lavallee | EurekAlert!
Further information:

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Space observation with radar to secure Germany's space infrastructure

Satellites in near-Earth orbit are at risk due to the steady increase in space debris. But their mission in the areas of telecommunications, navigation or weather forecasts is essential for society. Fraunhofer FHR therefore develops radar-based systems which allow the detection, tracking and cataloging of even the smallest particles of debris. Satellite operators who have access to our data are in a better position to plan evasive maneuvers and prevent destructive collisions. From April, 25-29 2018, Fraunhofer FHR and its partners will exhibit the complementary radar systems TIRA and GESTRA as well as the latest radar techniques for space observation across three stands at the ILA Berlin.

The "traffic situation" in space is very tense: the Earth is currently being orbited not only by countless satellites but also by a large volume of space...

Im Focus: Researchers Discover New Anti-Cancer Protein

An international team of researchers has discovered a new anti-cancer protein. The protein, called LHPP, prevents the uncontrolled proliferation of cancer cells in the liver. The researchers led by Prof. Michael N. Hall from the Biozentrum, University of Basel, report in “Nature” that LHPP can also serve as a biomarker for the diagnosis and prognosis of liver cancer.

The incidence of liver cancer, also known as hepatocellular carcinoma, is steadily increasing. In the last twenty years, the number of cases has almost doubled...

Im Focus: Researchers at Fraunhofer monitor re-entry of Chinese space station Tiangong-1

In just a few weeks from now, the Chinese space station Tiangong-1 will re-enter the Earth's atmosphere where it will to a large extent burn up. It is possible that some debris will reach the Earth's surface. Tiangong-1 is orbiting the Earth uncontrolled at a speed of approx. 29,000 km/h.Currently the prognosis relating to the time of impact currently lies within a window of several days. The scientists at Fraunhofer FHR have already been monitoring Tiangong-1 for a number of weeks with their TIRA system, one of the most powerful space observation radars in the world, with a view to supporting the German Space Situational Awareness Center and the ESA with their re-entry forecasts.

Following the loss of radio contact with Tiangong-1 in 2016 and due to the low orbital height, it is now inevitable that the Chinese space station will...

Im Focus: Alliance „OLED Licht Forum“ – Key partner for OLED lighting solutions

Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP, provider of research and development services for OLED lighting solutions, announces the founding of the “OLED Licht Forum” and presents latest OLED design and lighting solutions during light+building, from March 18th – 23rd, 2018 in Frankfurt a.M./Germany, at booth no. F91 in Hall 4.0.

They are united in their passion for OLED (organic light emitting diodes) lighting with all of its unique facets and application possibilities. Thus experts in...

Im Focus: Mars' oceans formed early, possibly aided by massive volcanic eruptions

Oceans formed before Tharsis and evolved together, shaping climate history of Mars

A new scenario seeking to explain how Mars' putative oceans came and went over the last 4 billion years implies that the oceans formed several hundred million...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

New solar solutions for sustainable buildings and cities

23.03.2018 | Event News

Virtual reality conference comes to Reutlingen

19.03.2018 | Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

For graphite pellets, just add elbow grease

23.03.2018 | Materials Sciences

Unique communication strategy discovered in stem cell pathway controlling plant growth

23.03.2018 | Agricultural and Forestry Science

Sharpening the X-ray view of the nanocosm

23.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>