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Maple syrup shows health benefits


September 14, 2011
By Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers

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Sept. 13, 2011, Longueuil, QC – Maple syrup is a forest product popular for its distinctive taste, versatility when used for cooking, and now, its antioxidant phenolic compounds.

Sept. 13, 2011, Longueuil, QC – Maple syrup
is a forest product popular for its distinctive taste, versatility when used
for cooking, and now, its antioxidant phenolic compounds. Consumers in Japan
are especially interested in the product, a natural food that could play a role
in disease prevention. Dr. Keiko Abe of the University of Tokyo’s Graduate
School of Agricultural and Life Sciences led a study that showed that maple
syrup could promote a healthier liver. The study established that healthy
laboratory rats fed a diet in which some of the carbohydrate was replaced with
100% pure maple syrup from Canada yielded significantly better results in liver
function tests than the control groups fed a diet with a syrup mix containing a
similar sugar content as maple syrup but without the beneficial compounds of
maple syrup. The results will be published in the November 2011 issue of Bioscience,
Biotechnology, and Biochemistry.

Although most healthy individuals take
liver function for granted, liver health is of great importance because of the
hundreds of vital functions it performs that are essential to human life,
including storing energy, regulating blood glucose, producing certain amino
acids (building blocks of proteins), and filtering harmful substances from the
blood.

“The preliminary results of this research
are encouraging and emphasize the importance of choosing a healthy diet to help
counteract the lifestyle and environmental factors that may impact liver
function, even our choice of a sweetener,” says Dr. Melissa Palmer, clinical
professor and medical director of hepatology at New York University Plainview.
“In addition to Dr. Abe’s recent findings, published research suggests that
100% pure maple syrup may prove to be a better choice of sweetener because it
was found to be rich in polyphenolic antioxidants and contains vitamins and
minerals,” she notes.

In the study, rats on the maple syrup diet
after 11 days showed significantly decreased levels of liver enzymes AST, ALT,
and LDH in the blood, standard biomarkers for evaluating liver function. Gene
expression profiling observations suggest a mechanism whereby the maple syrup
diet caused genes involved in the production of harmful ammonia in the liver to
be less active.

“This research contributes to our growing
understanding of the incredible health potential of maple syrup,” remarks Serge
Beaulieu, president of the Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers. “We
learned previously that maple syrup contains antioxidant compounds that may
actually help regulate glucose metabolism and increase insulin release,
possibly aiding in the management of type 2 diabetes. And now, Dr. Abe is
exploring the relationship between maple syrup consumption and liver health.
Her current findings give us even more reason to enjoy our maple syrup.”

The study was funded by the Conseil pour le
développement de l'agriculture du Québec (CDAQ) and Agriculture and Agri-Food
Canada (AAFC) on behalf of the Canadian Maple Syrup Industry and by the
Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers.


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