As if the sweet, delicious flavor of pure maple syrup isn't reason enough to eat up – researchers at the University of Rhode Island recently uncovered significant maple syrup health benefits as well. Navindra Seeram, an assistant professor of biomedical and pharmaceutical sciences at URI's College of Pharmacy presented the results of his study in March of 2010, at the American Chemical Society's Annual Meeting in San Francisco.
"We know that plants must have strong antioxidant mechanisms because they are in the sun throughout their lives," Seeram said. "We already know that berries, because of their bright colors, are high in antioxidants. Now we are looking at maple syrup, which comes from the sap located just inside the bark, which is constantly exposed to the sun. Maple syrup is unique in that it is the only commercial product in our diet that comes from a plant's sap," Seeram said.
Seeram's research uncovered more than 20 compounds in maple syrup that are linked to human health, including several newly identified antioxidants that are believed to have anti-bacterial, anti-diabetic and anti-cancer properties.
Other established health benefits of pure maple syrup include the calcium and potassium content – a quarter cup of maple syrup has more calcium than the same amount of milk and more potassium than a banana.
Of course, just because pure maple syrup contains calcium, potassium and antioxidants, - and absolutely no HFCS - it's still not a good idea to drown your pancakes in it every morning. It's still a sugar, and it still contains calories – the benefit is that you get a little more of bang for your buck in terms of nutritional value compared to regular table sugar or high fructose corn syrup. So go ahead and enjoy the pure, natural sweetness of maple syrup – just enjoy it in moderation.
NOTE: The study conducted at The University of Rhode Island was funded in part by a grant from the Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers.