Sweet! Maple Syrup May Fight Cancer, Other Diseases

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March 23rd, 2010

AOL.com Original Article

Maple syrup may add more than just sweetness to your breakfast.

A University of Rhode Island study found that “real” maple syrup has a list of health benefits from certain chemicals, including disease-fighting antioxidants, The Vancouver Sun reports.

Antioxidants protect the body from damage caused by free radicals, therefore helping the body fight off medical conditions like coronary artery disease, some cancers, macular degeneration, Alzheimer’s disease and arthritis-related conditions.

“We know that plants must have strong antioxidant mechanisms because they are in the sun throughout their lives,” Navindra Seeram, a University of Rhode Island plant scientist, told The Vancouver Sun. “We already know that berries, because of their bright [colors], are high in antioxidants. Now we are looking at maple syrup, which comes from the sap located just inside the bark, which is constantly exposed to the sun.”

Researchers studied Canadian maple syrup and found 13 new compounds that improve health, Seeram said Sunday at an American Chemical Society conference in San Francisco.

Besides antioxidants, maple syrup also contains chemicals called phenolics, which many believe have anti-cancer 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,” Seeram said. He added that research indicates that 50 percent of consumers don’t know if the syrup they use has real maple ingredients as many grocery store varieties contain just a small percentage of real maple syrup and then sweetened with sugar and corn syrup.

Serge Beaulieu, president of the Quebec producers’ federation, said the full results of a Quebec-based research project on maple syrup’s health benefits would be unveiled in August at the International Horticultural Congress in Portugal.

Though it may be high in antioxidants, maple syrup, much like antioxidant-rich chocolate, is also high in calories. So, pour it on, but in moderation.

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