New York, Apr 6 Pure maple syrup may help protect the body against chronic inflammation which can potentially lead to brain conditions such as Alzheimer's disease, a new study led by an Indian-origin scientist claims.
The study by Dr Navindra Seeram at University of Rhode Island in the US revealed the presence of inulin, a type of carbohydrate recently discovered, for the first time in 100 per cent pure maple syrup from Canada.
Inulin is a complex carbohydrate (natural dietary fibre) that acts as a prebiotic and works to encourage the growth of "good" or beneficial bacteria in the gut.
Inulin joins the other beneficial polyphenols, vitamins and minerals already identified in pure maple syrup. This latest discovery could allow maple to be classified as a functional food, researchers said.
The study focused on the beneficial effect of a symbiotic (prebiotic and probiotic) maple sap drink in recovering gut flora balance, which may have been lost for several reasons, including treatment with antibiotics.
"A healthy gut, with a balance of beneficial bacteria, helps to stimulate and support a healthy immune system. A healthy immune system, then, can help protect the body against chronic inflammation," said Seeram.
"Chronic inflammation has shown a potential link to brain conditions such as Alzheimer's disease. As such, this research provides additional information linking pure maple syrup, a unique natural sweetener, to brain health," he said.
Two newly discovered additional compounds with antioxidant properties and potential health benefits have been identified, bringing the total count of known phytonutrients in maple products to 65, researchers said.
This may help support discoveries made over the past few years on the inherent properties of maple syrup from Canada that comes directly from the sap of the maple tree, making it an all-natural product with unique health benefits, they said.
Discovered in 2011, a unique, polyphenolic molecule in maple syrup, Quebecol, and one of its analogues (isoquebecol, recently synthesised), have demonstrated that it significantly decreases the production of inflammation mediators.
Inflammation is a normal part of a healthy immune response and is a biological process that helps heal injury and fight infection.
However, when inflammation becomes uncontrolled or chronic, it plays a role in exacerbating a variety of health-related issues.
The findings were presented at the annual meeting of the American Chemical Society (ACS) in San Francisco, US.
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