Pure maple syrup contains double the amount of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds than food scientists previously thought, according to researchers at the University of Rhode Island.
Furthermore, they found that the sweet condiment contains phenolics that are beneficial in the management of type 2 diabetes, a discovery that the authors noted came as a stroke of irony.
"I can guarantee you that few, if any, other natural sweeteners have this antioxidant cocktail of beneficial compounds. It has some of the beneficial compounds that are found in berries, some that are found in tea and some that are found in flaxseed," said lead researcher Navindra Seeram.
Foods with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties have been shown to reduce the risk of several illnesses, including cancer, cardiovascular disease and neurological disorders.
A compound dubbed Quebecol — named for the maple-growing province in Canada — was among the new discoveries. Authors noted that the compound is a byproduct of the sap-boiling process required to make maple syrup.
The researchers said the discovery should not prompt anyone to consume mass quantities of the product, but rather it is meant to inform them that the sweetener is a healthier alternative to high fructose corn syrup-based products.