54 beneficial compounds 'discovered' in maple syrup

An Indian-origin scientist-led claims to have discovered 34 new beneficial compounds in pure maple syrup, and confirmed that 20 compounds found last year in preliminary research play a key role in human health.

Navindra Seeram of University of Rhode Island and his team have isolated and identified the 54 beneficial compounds in pure maple syrup from Quebec in Canada, five of which have never been seen in nature.

"I continue to say that nature is the best chemist, and that maple syrup is becoming a champion food when it comes to the number and variety of beneficial compounds found in it.

"It's important to note that in our laboratory research we found that several of these compounds possess anti -oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, which have been shown to fight cancer, diabetes and bacterial illnesses," he said.

These discoveries of new molecules from nature can also provide chemists with leads that could prompt synthesis of medications that could be used to fight fatal diseases, Seeram claimed.

"We know that the compounds are anti-inflammatory agents and that inflammation has been implicated in several chronic diseases, such as heart disease, diabetes, certain types of cancers and neuro-degenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer's," he added.

In their research, the scientists have found that maple syrup phenolics, the beneficial anti-oxidant compounds, inhibit two carbohydrate hydrolysing enzymes that are relevant to Type 2 diabetes management.

Among the five new compounds is Quebecol, a compound created when a farmer boils off the water in maple sap to get maple syrup. It takes 40 litres sap to make 1 litre of syrup.

"Quebecol has a unique chemical structure or skeleton never before identified in nature. I believe the process of concentrating the maple sap into maple syrup is what creates Quebecol. There is beneficial and interesting chemistry going on when the boiling process occurs. I believe the heat forms this unique compound," Seeram said.

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