Several of these anti-oxidant compounds newly identified in maple syrup are also reported to have anti-cancer, anti-bacterial and anti-diabetic properties.
Prior to the study, the Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers already knew that its product was full of naturally occurring minerals such as zinc, thiamine and calcium. But it enlisted Seeram to research the presence of plant anti-oxidants.
The Federation awarded Seeram a two-year, $115,000 grant with the help of the CDAQ and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.
His research continues to determine if the compounds exist in beneficial quantities.
The biomedical scientist said such early research is exciting because many people would not associate such a sugary product with healthy biological properties.
Seeram acknowledges that real maple syrup is pricier than commercial brands with maple flavoring or even those with no or very little maple syrup. “But you pay for what you get and you get what you pay for, meaning there are consequences for what you eat.
“We know that anti-oxidants are present in the leaves, bark and twigs of the maple tree, so looking at the sap make sense.”
Seeram now has a sugar maple tree trunk sitting in his lab so he can begin a more comprehensive study of the entire tree.