Maple syrup is one of the most popular sweeteners and chances are high you absolutely love it. This 100% natural sweetener is made from the sap (sugary circulating fluid) of maple leaves, hence its name. More than 80% of the world’s maple syrup supply comes from Canada.
Have you ever wondered about potential health benefits of maple syrup? After all, honey is a natural sweetener too and we already know it exhibits a number of health benefits. It turns out that maple syrup extract could contain miraculous health properties. Scroll down to read more.
Nutrition Content of Maple Syrup
Maple syrup is a healthier alternative to commonly used refined sugar thanks to its nutritional content. For example, maple syrup is an abundant source of manganese; ¼ cup is enough to obtain 100% daily value (DV) of this mineral. The same amount also supplies your body with 37% DV of riboflavin (vitamin B2) and 18% DV of zinc. Maple syrup is also a good source of magnesium, potassium, iron, and calcium.
Interestingly, maple syrup also proves to be a rich source of antioxidants. An antioxidant is a substance that neutralizes free radicals to prevent oxidative stress and damage it would induce. One study discovered that maple syrup contains 24 different antioxidants. Truly amazing! Regarding antioxidant content, darker maple syrups contain more of these healthy compounds than lighter versions.
Okay, now that we know maple syrup has a decent nutritional content we still have to learn whether it can be of any benefit for our health. Several studies confirmed the positive influence of maple syrup extract on some health conditions.
Maple Syrup and Neurodegenerative Diseases
A term neurodegenerative disease refers to debilitating and incurable conditions that lead to progressive degeneration and death of nerve cells. The most common neurodegenerative diseases are dementia, particularly Alzheimer’s disease, Huntington’s disease, Motor Neuron Diseases (MND), Parkinson’s disease, and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS).
Scientists at the Texas State University carried out a study which yielded a groundbreaking discovery and showed that maple syrup extract has the potential to address some neurodegenerative diseases. The team of researchers reviewed 24 different studies which focused on improving brain health through diet changes.
They discovered that real maple syrup can prevent two protein types, tau peptide, and beta-amyloid, in brain cells from clumping together. When these proteins accumulate and fold inadequately, they form plaque in a person’s brain. The plaque is one of the root causes of Alzheimer’s disease and many other neurodegenerative conditions.
Findings, presented at the American Chemical Society’s annual meeting in 2016, revealed that maple syrup slowed progression of Alzheimer’s in patients who were diagnosed with this disease.
Maple syrup has more than 100 bioactive compounds and some of them have anti-inflammatory properties, but the main “culprit” for prevention and delayed progression of neurodegenerative diseases could be phenol concentrations. Phenolic compounds function as antioxidants.
A separate study whose findings were published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry discovered that maple syrup can decrease several age-dependent phenotypes caused by expression of a TDP-43 protein associated with ALS.
Fights Inflammatory Diseases
Inflammation is the body’s response to injury, stress, and trauma. It is a natural process that promotes healing. That being said, persistent or chronic inflammation is harmful to your health and contributes to the development of different conditions and diseases. The journal Bioorganic and Medicinal Chemistry Letters published a study which confirmed anti-inflammatory properties of maple syrup.
Scientists identified a compound called quebecol which is a result of chemical reactions taking place during the syrup-making process. These chemical reactions transform the naturally occurring polyphenols in the maple sap.
Quebecol has the tremendous potential to decrease inflammatory response of macrophages, cells of the immune system that are usually formed in response to an infection or accumulating or dead cells. The discovery opens the door for new anti-inflammatory agents that would contain maple syrup compounds and their derivates. In the near future, we will be able to treat arthritis and other inflammatory diseases with maple syrup or medications based on it.
Protects Against Cancer
You probably didn’t expect to see that maple syrup can help protect against cancer. This leads us back to a multitude of antioxidants found in this syrup. Due to high antioxidant content, maple syrup protects you from oxidative damage, one of the most common underlying causes of cancer. Antioxidants protect cells from DNA damage and mutation.
Scientists from Japan discovered that maple syrup could inhibit proliferation and invasion of cell growth in colorectal cancer, one of the most prevalent types of cancer in the world. Writing in the Oncology Reports scientists explained that maple syrup, especially dark-colored versions, might be suitable as phytomedicines which have fewer adverse effects than traditional chemotherapy for colorectal cancer treatment.
Other Benefits of Maple Syrup
Cancer protection, anti-inflammatory effects, and brain health are just some effects that maple syrup provides. Other health benefits include:
- Enhances antibiotic effects – Maple syrup extract helps antibiotic works better. When a group of researchers evaluated extracts from maple syrup in conjunction with antibiotics such as carbenicillin and ciprofloxacin they observed the same antimicrobial effect with upwards of 90% less antibiotics. Basically, maple syrup improves efficacy of antibiotics and it takes a lower dose of these medications than usual
- Improves digestion – Artificial sweeteners induce effects such as indigestion, gas, bloating, constipation and cramps. As a natural sweetener, maple syrup helps avoid these uncomfortable problems
- Protects skin – As seen throughout the article, maple syrup contains anti-inflammatory agents which are also beneficial for skin health. Thanks to antioxidant content, maple syrup can also prevent skin damage caused by oxidative stress. Combined with milk, honey, and rolled oats, maple syrup can hydrate your skin and make it smooth
Maple syrup is a natural sweetener with a decent nutritional content. Several studies confirmed that maple syrup extract can help treat different health problems, but more research on this topic is necessary. This doesn’t mean you should consume too much maple syrup, stick to moderate intake.
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