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Organic maple syrup a superfood? Sticky sweet liquid is packed with natural compounds known to prevent disease

Maple syrup

(NaturalNews) According to a new report by the University of Rhode Island, maple syrup may be considered a superfood – joining broccoli, blueberries and fish, among others.

It is thought that the sticky liquid that is produced by boiling sap from the maple tree, is high in antioxidants that boost the immune system, as well as compounds that could help manage Type 2 diabetes, prevent cancer and reduce inflammation in the body. Five of these compounds are completely unique to maple syrup.

What are superfoods?

Superfoods are foods that are considered to be packed full of nutrients – such as blueberries, salmon, kale and acai berries. There are no set criteria for determining what is and isn't a superfood, according to the American Heart Foundation, and the term is actually more of a marketing ploy than a new food group.

That said, superfoods are thought to provide many benefits to our health, containing extra-large doses of vitamins and minerals that may help us to ward off diseases and live longer. Some of the nutrients in superfoods contain antioxidants that scientists believe ward off cancer, as well as healthy fats that can help prevent heart disease.

Superfoods are also high in fiber, which prevents diabetes and digestive problems. Blueberries have gained a lot of notoriety as a superfood, due to their soluble fiber and phytochemical content. And now maple syrup is being described as a "one-stop shop" for beneficial compounds, as reported by the U.K.'s Daily Mail.

How can something so sweet be good for you?

Tests on the syrup have found that it contains 54 compounds, many of which are thought to help diabetes, act against cancer and provide anti-inflammatory properties to the body. Several of the syrup's polyphenol compounds have been proven to inhibit the enzymes that convert carbohydrates into sugars, which could potentially provide a new way to manage Type 2 diabetes.

According to Dr. Navindra Seeram, who led the research at the University of Rhode Island, "... the sheer quantity and variety of identified compounds with documented health benefits qualifies maple syrup as a champion food."

Quebecol is one of the polyphenols that are unique to the syrup, and is of particular interest. The compound is created during the process of boiling down maple sap to create syrup. And whilst staying away from sweet things is something doctors advise, maple syrup is a non-refined product that undergoes little to no processing, and is natural – giving it the edge over other sweetening agents.

In fact, maple is considered to be the best sweetener compared to white sugar and honey, as it contains fewer calories. It is easier for our metabolism to digest, and rich in minerals such as manganese, riboflavin, zinc, magnesium, calcium and potassium. Some of the compounds contained within the syrup prevent the aging of the body's cells, and these simply are not found in other natural sweeteners.

Canada produces nearly 30 million liters of maple syrup every year, which accounts for 80% of the world's production. And while this doesn't mean we should all start covering our food in maple syrup, it does mean we should give maple syrup greater consideration as a natural sweetener with added benefits.

The new study means you can enjoy maple syrup on your short stack without feeling too guilty – but as always, be sure to enjoy in moderation.

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