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Australian Food Industry pledges salt reductions

October 11, 2015

Seeram said the sap probably has low concentrations of these native phenolics. "But when you boil the sap down, there could be higher levels because syrup is a highly concentrated liquid. Plus, the natural plant bioactives could remain intact or undergo process-induced chemical changes during the heating process resulting in further-derived bioactive compounds."

The biomedical scientist said such early research is exciting because many people would not associate such a sugary product with healthy biological properties.

"At this point, we are saying, if you choose to put syrup on your pancakes, it may be healthier to use real maple syrup," he said. "The Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers found that 50 percent of consumers don't know whether the syrup they consume is real maple syrup."

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.

"In a certain sense, people view sap as the life blood of the tree," Seeram said. "Maple syrup is unique in that it is the only commercial product in our diet that comes from a plant's sap. This is a niche resource for northeast North America. Canada is the biggest producer of maple syrup and the United States is the biggest consumer."

Source: University of Rhode Island