Maple Syrup: Not Your Mama’s Mrs. Butterworth’s

By Cindy Bishop
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Spring has sprung in Vermont, and that means its maple syrup time. When the temperatures get warmer, the sap starts to run. And that means hundreds of maple sugar-daddies (and sugar-mamas) begin the mad rush to tap their maple trees in order to capture every delightful drop of amber-y goodness!

Typically maple syrup is categorized as a simple carbohydrate, but new research recently uncovered that maple syrup is much healthier than previously believed. Our cousins up north (the largest syrup producing nation in the world) funded a U.S. study that found a plethora of disease-fighting antioxidants in maple sap. University of Rhode Island plant scientist, Navindra Seeram, announced Sunday at an American Chemical Society conference in San Francisco that he’d found 13 new compounds “linked with human health” in sap produced when farmers tap trees.

Phenolics believed to have anti-cancer properties are found in the syrup as a reaction to the stress tapping puts on the tree. The tree, in fact, responds to the tapping by secreting phenolics as a defense mechanism.

“We speculated that the sugar maple is wounded when it is tapped for its sap, and that it secretes phenolics as a defense mechanism,” says Seeram. “We know that plants must have strong antioxidant mechanisms because they are in the sun throughout their lives,” Seeram adds. “We already know that berries, because of their bright colors, are high in antioxidants. Now we are looking at maple syrup, which comes from the sap located just inside the bark, which is constantly exposed to the sun.”

Of course, as part of our healthy eating plan, we serve the real stuff at Green Mountain,  and we also sell it through our bookstore for a limited time. And if you’d like to read a more charming account of the whole process, our very own Emily Haile wrote about her experience watching syrup being made last year. Check it out.

It’s springtime!  Hug a tree.

Learn more about Navindra Seeram, here.  He’s our kinda guy.

Source article: Vancouver Sun

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