Maple Syrup and Cancer

Dr. Weeks’ Comment:  I grew up in New England and spent each March trudging through hip deep snow tapping maple trees in Lancaster, New Hampshire, sweating profusely and guzzling raw cool maple sap before hunkering over the boiler and reducing the sap 40 fold to concentrated maple syrup.  We have always loved the flavor of maple syrup and now we see (no surprise) that this concentrate is full on anti-cancer properties.   Enjoy (in moderation) cinnamon and maple syrup and lemon – many excellent concoctions  – and above all, if you ever get the chance, drink the raw, cool, enzyme rich maple sap, fresh from the tree,  – that is the drink of life!

Study identifies novel phenolic compound in maple syrup

By Nathan Gray, 01-Apr-2011

A novel phenolic compound, known as quebecol, has been identified from Canadian maple syrup by a group of researchers from the University of Rhode Island.

The study, published in the Journal of Functional Foods, identified the novel compound, which is thought to be a product of the manufacturing process, in addition to 23 naturally derived phenolics belonging to lignan, coumarin, stilbene, and phenolic acid sub-classes in maple syrup.

“Our finding of a non-natural phenolic compound in maple syrup is interesting considering that such molecules may contribute significantly towards the reported biological activities of maple syrup,” said the researchers, led by Navindra Seeram, assistant professor in the Bioactive Botanical Research Laboratory, at the University of Rhode Island, USA.

“Given the worldwide popularity and consumption of this natural sweetener, chemical identification of maple syrup constituents is of great scientific interest,” they added.

Naturally healthy?

The authors explained that province of Quebec in Canada “leads the world’s production of maple syrup, a natural sweetener obtained by thermal evaporation of sap collected from maple (Acer) species.”

As a natural plant extract, maple syrup has been found to contain many beneficial compounds such as polyphenols, said the authors.

“Published studies have shown that maple syrup extracts have antioxidant, antimutagenic, and human cancer cell antiproliferative properties …To this end, our laboratory has embarked on a collaborative project to comprehensively identify the chemical constituents in maple syrup,” explained Seeram and his colleagues.

Study details

“As part of our laboratory’s detailed chemical investigation of Canadian maple syrup, a novel phenolic compound, 2,3,3-tri-(3-methoxy-4-hydroxyphenyl)-1-propanol, assigned the common name of quebecol, was obtained,” explained the researchers.

They said that quebecol was isolated as a pale off white amorphous powder, from a butanol extract of the maple syrup.

Upon further inspection, liquid chromatography mass spectral (LC-MS) analyses revealed that quebecol is not originally present in maple sap.

“This observation, as well as the lack of a feasible biosynthetic pathway to explain its origin, suggests that quebecol is formed during the processing and/or extraction of maple syrup,” said Seeram and his co-workers.

“Unfortunately, we did not obtain sufficient quantity of the pure isolated compound to conduct biological testing in the current study … Thus, further studies to evaluate the levels and presence of this compound in commercial maple products as well as other grades of maple syrup are warranted,” they added.

Source: Journal of Functional Foods
Published online ahead of print, doi: 10.1016/j.jff.2011.02.004
“Quebecol, a novel phenolic compound isolated from Canadian maple syrup”
Authors: L. Li, N.P. Seeram

Study identifies novel phenolic compound in maple syrup

By Nathan Gray, 01-Apr-2011

A novel phenolic compound, known as quebecol, has been identified from Canadian maple syrup by a group of researchers from the University of Rhode Island.

The study, published in the Journal of Functional Foods, identified the novel compound, which is thought to be a product of the manufacturing process, in addition to 23 naturally derived phenolics belonging to lignan, coumarin, stilbene, and phenolic acid sub-classes in maple syrup.

“Our finding of a non-natural phenolic compound in maple syrup is interesting considering that such molecules may contribute significantly towards the reported biological activities of maple syrup,” said the researchers, led by Navindra Seeram, assistant professor in the Bioactive Botanical Research Laboratory, at the University of Rhode Island, USA.

“Given the worldwide popularity and consumption of this natural sweetener, chemical identification of maple syrup constituents is of great scientific interest,” they added.

Naturally healthy?

The authors explained that province of Quebec in Canada “leads the world’s production of maple syrup, a natural sweetener obtained by thermal evaporation of sap collected from maple (Acer) species.”

As a natural plant extract, maple syrup has been found to contain many beneficial compounds such as polyphenols, said the authors.

“Published studies have shown that maple syrup extracts have antioxidant, antimutagenic, and human cancer cell antiproliferative properties …To this end, our laboratory has embarked on a collaborative project to comprehensively identify the chemical constituents in maple syrup,” explained Seeram and his colleagues.

Study details

“As part of our laboratory’s detailed chemical investigation of Canadian maple syrup, a novel phenolic compound, 2,3,3-tri-(3-methoxy-4-hydroxyphenyl)-1-propanol, assigned the common name of quebecol, was obtained,” explained the researchers.

They said that quebecol was isolated as a pale off white amorphous powder, from a butanol extract of the maple syrup.

Upon further inspection, liquid chromatography mass spectral (LC-MS) analyses revealed that quebecol is not originally present in maple sap.

“This observation, as well as the lack of a feasible biosynthetic pathway to explain its origin, suggests that quebecol is formed during the processing and/or extraction of maple syrup,” said Seeram and his co-workers.

“Unfortunately, we did not obtain sufficient quantity of the pure isolated compound to conduct biological testing in the current study … Thus, further studies to evaluate the levels and presence of this compound in commercial maple products as well as other grades of maple syrup are warranted,” they added.

Source: Journal of Functional Foods
Published online ahead of print, doi: 10.1016/j.jff.2011.02.004
“Quebecol, a novel phenolic compound isolated from Canadian maple syrup”
Authors: L. Li, N.P. Seeram

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J Med Food. 2010 Apr;13(2):460-8.

Antioxidant activity, inhibition of nitric oxide overproduction, and in vitro antiproliferative effect of maple sap and syrup from Acer saccharum.

Source

Laboratoire d’Analyse et de Séparation des Essences Végétales, Département des Sciences Fondamentales, Université du Québec à Chicoutimi, Québec, Canada. jean_legault@uqac.ca

Abstract

Antioxidant activity, inhibition of nitric oxide (NO) overproduction, and antiproliferative effect of ethyl acetate extracts of maple sap and syrup from 30 producers were evaluated in regard to the period of harvest in three different regions of Québec, Canada. Oxygen radical absorbance capacity (ORAC) values of maple sap and syrup extracts are, respectively, 12 +/- 6 and 15 +/- 5 micromol of Trolox equivalents (TE)/mg. The antioxidant activity was also confirmed by a cell-based assay. The period of harvest has no statistically significant incidence on the antioxidant activity of both extracts. The antioxidant activity of pure maple syrup was also determined using the ORAC assay. Results indicate that the ORAC value of pure maple syrup (8 +/- 2 micromol of TE/mL) is lower than the ORAC value of blueberry juice (24 +/- 1 micromol of TE/mL) but comparable to the ORAC values of strawberry (10.7 +/- 0.4 micromol of TE/mL) and orange (10.8 +/- 0.5 micromol of TE/mL) juices. Maple sap and syrup extracts showed to significantly inhibit lipopolysaccharide-induced NO overproduction in RAW264.7 murine macrophages. Maple syrup extract was significantly more active than maple sap extract, suggesting that the transformation of maple sap into syrup increases NO inhibition activity. The highest NO inhibition induced by the maple syrup extracts was observed at the end of the season. Moreover, darker maple syrup was found to be more active than clear maple syrup, suggesting that some colored oxidized compounds could be responsible in part for the activity. Finally, maple syrup extracts (50% inhibitory concentration = 42 +/- 6 microg/mL) and pure maple syrup possess a selective in vitro antiproliferative activity against cancer cells.

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Dr. Weeks’ Comment:  I grew up in New England and spent each March trudging through hip deep snow tapping maple trees in Lancaster, New Hampshire, sweating profusely and guzzling raw cool maple sap before hunkering over the boiler and reducing the sap 40 fold to concentrated maple syrup.  We have always loved the flavor of…
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