Our ‘Hero’: New Study Touts Health Benefits of Syrup


Greetings: We interrupt your morning breakfast with this important nutritional newsflash brought to you by … nature.

Scientific research funded in part by the U.S. Department of Agriculture reveals that (wait for it: you know, like golden goodness pouring from an upside-down SAPJACK bottle) …

Maple syrup is a real deal “hero ingredient.”

That’s the word from the University of Rhode Island, where top biomedical and pharmaceutical scientists have been secretly studying the nutritional value of maple syrup for the past decade.

Their research confirms that — thanks to “a unique compositional chemistry containing minerals, vitamins, amino acids, and more than 67 bioactive natural plant compounds with potential health benefits” — maple syrup and maple compounds can help stabilize blood glucose levels, fight inflammation, and even help fight wrinkles.

“Maple syrup has a unique nutritional and chemical composition featuring antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and organic acids,” according to a report from URI’s Bioactive Botanical Research Laboratory, which has teamed up with Johnson & Wales University’s College of Food Innovation and Technology to spread the word and develop strategies to help people access maple’s “untapped” nutritional potential.

URI professor and department chair Navindra Seeram, respected around the globe for his expertise in the healing properties of medicinal plants, has been a pioneer in unlocking the medicinal benefits of maple.

“If you’re stranded on a deserted island and could bring only one food, maple is the food for you since it contains macronutrients (mainly as sucrose) as well as micronutrients and a diverse array of phytonutrients,” he said.

Dr. Seeram and colleague Hang Ma received a $500,000 grant from the USDA to help fund the collaborative study, which “combines the scientific breakthroughs in URI’s Bioactive Botanical Research Laboratory with the culinary breakthroughs in JWU’s food lab.”

When discussing his research into the health benefits of maple syrup, Dr. Seeram spotlights one vitally important distinction.

“I never knew that ‘pancake syrup’ is not maple syrup. Pancake syrup is usually a fructose corn-based syrup, whereas pure maple syrup is a natural product,” he said in a Foodie Pharmacology podcast interview, emphasizing that his research is focused on the pure stuff, not the fructose corn syrup impostor.

The “Maple Is a Hero Ingredient” project features several important initiatives, including:

  • Creating guidelines for the recipe and product development focusing on maple syrup’s health-promoting properties.
  • Developing innovative recipes and products that feature maple syrup with food pairings and formulations that target home cooks/consumers and industry professionals.
  • Creating webinars, podcasts and symposia focused on maple syrup’s culinary versatility and health-promoting properties.
  • Publicizing the insights, recipes, and demonstrations to get the word out about maple.

Of course, maple is already a staple in many cookbooks offering recipes that tap its sweet and savory properties. (See some of our favorite maple syrup recipes here.)

“We will feature maple syrup as a hero ingredient,” wrote Seeram and Ma, who believe their ground-breaking research into its healthful properties “will resonate well with consumers seeking better-for-you, natural foods to eat for health.”

Well, we certainly like the sound of that.

Truth be told, our team of tree whisperers and syrup chefs has long been convinced that the pure, single-source maple syrup we make here in Vermont’s maple-rich Northeast Kingdom is something much more than nature’s sweetest breakfast treat.

Today it feels great to know that we are also contributing to the overall good health of our countless sappy customers!

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