Maple Syrup: Superfood
Sweet Support for Your Immune System
Researchers have labeled maple syrup a "superfood," along with blueberries and green tea. Initial studies show maple syrup can help keep blood sugar levels in check and has anti-oxidant properties.
The trace mineral manganese is an essential cofactor in a number of enzymes important in energy production and antioxidant defenses. For example, the key oxidative enzyme superoxide dismutase, which disarms free radicals produced within the mitochondria (the energy production factories within our cells), requires manganese. One ounce of maple syrup supplies 22% of the daily value for this very important trace mineral.
"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.
Zinc and manganese are important allies in the immune system. Many types of immune cells appear to depend upon zinc for optimal function.
In addition to the role played by zinc, the manganese in maple syrup is important since, as a component of the antioxidant SOD, it helps lessen inflammation, thus supporting healing. In addition, manganese may also act as an immunostimulant (a substance that stimulates the immune system by inducing activation or increasing activity of any of its components).
Maple syrup may help to support reproductive health and provides special benefits for men. Zinc is concentrated more highly in the prostate than in any other human tissue, and low levels of zinc in this gland relate to a higher risk for prostate cancer. In fact, zinc is a mineral used therapeutically by healthcare practitioners to help reduce prostate size. Manganese may also play a role in supporting men's health since, as a catalyst in the synthesis of fatty acids and cholesterol, it also participates in the production of sex hormones, thus helping to maintain reproductive health.
View Maple Syrup Nutrient Analysis Chart
A total of 54 beneficial compounds were identified by the researchers in pure maple syrup from Quebec, including five of which have never been found before in nature.
Among the new compounds is quebecol -- named in honor of the Canadian province of Quebec, which leads the world in maple syrup production. The researchers believe it is created when a farmer boils off the water in maple sap to get maple syrup. It takes 40 liters (20.5 gallons) of sap to make one liter (two pints) of syrup.
University of Rhode Island. "54 beneficial compounds discovered in pure maple syrup." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 30 March 2011.