Maple syrup may have potential health benefits, say scientists checking out its antioxidants.
Canadian and U.S. researchers reported on their industry-funded lab findings analyzing compounds in the sweet liquid at this week's annual meeting of the American Chemical Society in Anaheim, Calif.
They focused on polyphenols, a group of natural antioxidants that early-stage research links to anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory and anti-diabetic properties.
"We found a wide variety of polyphenols in maple syrup," said Navindra Seeram, an assistant pharmacy professor at the University of Rhode Island who led a session on the sweetener at the meeting.
"It is a one-stop shop for these beneficial compounds, several of which are also found in berries, tea, red wine and flaxseed," he added in a release Friday.
Preliminary laboratory findings from Quebec suggest maple syrup may help the body regulate blood glucose levels.
The compounds could be helpful for treating some aspects of Type 2 diabetes, said Prof. Yves Dejardins, a plant physiology researcher at Laval University in Quebec City.
It's not yet known whether those test-tube findings on the molecule will be borne out in large-scale clinical trials in humans testing its effectiveness, Desjardins cautioned.
"Is maple syrup the next champion food?" Seeram said in also calling for more research.
The research was funded by the Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.