University of Rhode Island researcher Dr. Navindra Seeram has discovered 34 new beneficial compounds in pure maple syrup and confirmed that 20 compounds discovered last year in preliminary research play a key role in human health. On March 30, 2011, at the 241st American Chemical Society's National Meeting in Anaheim, California, the URI assistant pharmacy professor told scientists from around the world that his URI team has now isolated and identified 54 beneficial compounds in pure maple syrup from Quebec, five of which have never been seen in nature. "I continue to say that nature is the best chemist, and that maple syrup is becoming a champion food when it comes to the number and variety of beneficial compounds found in it," Dr. Seeram said. "It's important to note that in our laboratory research we found that several of these compounds possess anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, which have been shown to fight cancer, diabetes, and bacterial illnesses." These discoveries of new molecules from nature can also provide chemists with leads that could prompt synthesis of medications that could be used to fight fatal diseases, Dr. Seeram said. "We know that the compounds are anti-inflammatory agents and that inflammation has been implicated in several chronic diseases, such as heart disease, diabetes, certain types of cancers and neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer's," Dr. Seeram said. As part of his diabetes research, Dr. Seeram has collaborated with Dr. Chong Lee, professor of nutrition and food sciences in URI's College of the Environment and Life Sciences. The scientists have found that maple syrup phenolics, the beneficial anti-oxidant compounds, inhibit two carbohydrate hydrolyzing enzymes that are relevant to Type 2 diabetes management. The irony of finding a potential anti-diabetes compound in a sweetener is not lost on Dr. Seeram.
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