Maple Syrup Has 54 Beneficial Compounds- And A Whole Lot of Sugar

making maple syrup photo
Image Credit Our Ontario

We Canadians love our maple syrup and have been making it for a long time, but in the end, I would have said that, like the argument over real sugar vs high fructose corn syrup, it's all just another kind of sugar and no good for you. Then Discovery News tells us to Pour on the Syrup- it's good for you.

According to Discovery:

Researchers have identified compounds in maple syrup with similar anti-inflammatory or anti-oxidant properties as blueberries, green tea and other "superfoods."

"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," said lead researcher Navindra Seeram, assistant professor of pharmacognosy at the University of Rhode Island.

The study even found a brand new compound that they called Quebecol, in honour of the province where the sponsors of the study came from. According to a press release from the Quebec Maple Syrup Board,

"We already know the maple tree has strong antioxidant mechanisms," Seeram said. "Now we are looking more closely at the tree's sap." Several of these antioxidant compounds are also reported to have anti-cancer, anti-bacterial and anti-diabetic properties. "People are increasingly interested in healthier food alternatives," Seeram said.....

Seeram found the same antioxidant compounds also contained in berries, an exciting development because he would not previously have associated a sweetener with healthy biological properties. "Today, Americans have great interest in learning the health benefits of unique foods," Seeram said.

Wait a second, now we are not debating whether a sweetener is less bad or more bad, but are calling it a healthier alternative, compared to berries?

The Marketing board is thrilled with the results, noting that the news has reached over 100 million people. But Joe Schwarcz of McGill University pushes back in the Montreal Gazette today.

"This study is of academic interest, and that is all," Schwarcz told Postmedia News. "To suggest that maple syrup is healthy because it contains a number of phenolic compounds is rumpled thinking that needs to be straightened out. Phenolics are not rare -- they are abundant in fruits and vegetables."

He also expressed concern that consumers hearing about "healthy compounds" in maple syrup could let their appetites for the sweet treat run wild.

"You certainly do not need to guzzle all the sugar that is found in maple syrup to increase your antioxidant intake," he said. "The only reason to eat maple syrup is that it tastes good. Any suggestion that it is 'healthy' is irresponsible and may make scientifically shallow people eat more."

Schwarcz tells the Gazette:

Possibly, if some of the interesting compounds in maple syrup are isolated, they may prove to be of some benefit as supplements without having to carry the baggage of all that sugar," he told Postmedia News. "But I doubt it. This whole study amounts to an ad for maple syrup."

Because, in the end, sugar is sugar is sugar.

More on sugar and HCFS:
Fructose is Fructose and Sugar is Sugar, And No Better Than HFCS. : TreeHugger
Corn Syrup vs. Sugar: Which is sweeter for your diet? : TreeHugger
Pepsi Throwback Uses Real Sugar, But Is It Better For You? : TreeHugger

Tags: Canada

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