Maple syrup may help treat diabetes

March 31, 2011 at 9:26 AM
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ANAHEIM, Calif., March 31 (UPI) -- A U.S. researcher says she has discovered 34 new beneficial compounds in pure maple syrup from Quebec -- five of which have never been seen in nature.

Navindra Seeram of the University of Rhode Island also confirmed that 20 maple syrup compounds she discovered last year in preliminary research play a key role in human health.

"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," Seeram said in a statement.

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

Seeram and Chong Lee, a professor of nutrition and food sciences at the University of Rhode Island's College of the Environment and Life Sciences, found maple syrup phenolics -- the beneficial antioxidant compounds -- inhibit two carbohydrate hydrolyzing enzymes that are relevant to type 2 diabetes.

Among the five new compounds is Quebecol, a compound created when the Maple tree sap is boiled to create syrup.

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

The findings were taken at the 241st American Chemical Society's National Meeting in Anaheim, Calif.

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