Genevive Bland, federation marketing director, said the group has learned that maple products are much more than sugars with only calories to contribute.
"Recent research findings, such as those by Dr. Seeram, reveal a whole array of bioactive compounds that promise to offer many health benefits," she said. "Our journey to understanding these benefits has just begun."
Seeram, who was named the 2009 Young Scientist of the Year by the American Chemical Society's Division of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, said his goal is to educate the research community and the public about the many benefits of a variety of plant and berry foods, as well as natural products. His message is receiving widespread attention. Seeram had two of the Top Ten Most Accessed Articles in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry in 2008.
"We know that plants must have strong anti-oxidant mechanisms because they are in the sun throughout their lives," Seeram said. "We already know that berries, because of their bright colors, are high in anti-oxidants.
"Now we are looking at maple syrup, which comes from the sap located just inside the bark, which is constantly exposed to the sun."
During his maple syrup research, Seeram and his research team found phenolics, the beneficial class of anti-oxidant compounds also found in berries. "We speculated that the sugar maple is wounded when it is tapped for its sap, and that it secretes phenolics as a defense mechanism."
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 furtherderived bioactive compounds."
|Contact: Dave Lavallee|
University of Rhode Island