Researchers Study Implications for Alzheimer’s Disease in Maple Syrup’s Promising Link to Brain Health

Ana de Barros, PhD avatar

by Ana de Barros, PhD |

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Maple syrup's link to brain health

During the American Chemical Society annual meeting, leading international researchers shared promising findings of 24 studies that looked at the beneficial effects of natural products on brain health and on the prevention of Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases.

For the first time, the beneficial effects of pure maple syrup were included in the natural products that protect brain cells against the neural damage found in patients with Alzheimer’s disease.

Dr. Donald Weaver, from the Krembil Research Institute of the University of Toronto, presented a study that showed maple syrup extract may help prevent the misfolding and clumping of tau and beta amyloid, two proteins found in brain cells and largely known to be involved in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases.

The findings from another study led by Dr. Navindra P. Seeram from the University of Rhode Island, in collaboration with Texas State University, showed that a pure maple syrup extract prevented the tangling of beta amyloid proteins and exerted neuroprotective effects in the microglial brain cells of mice. Additionally, extract of maple syrup prolonged the lifespan of an Alzheimer’s roundworm model in vivo.

“Natural food products such as green tea, red wine, berries, curcumin, and pomegranates continue to be studied for their potential benefits in combating Alzheimer’s disease,” Seeram said in a news release. “And now, in preliminary laboratory-based Alzheimer’s disease studies, phenolic-enriched extracts of maple syrup from Canada showed neuroprotective effects, similar to resveratrol, a compound found in red wine.”

“However, further animal and eventually human studies would be required to confirm these initial findings,” Seeram said.

Maple syrup is usually made from the xylem sap of sugar maple, red maple, or black maple trees, although it can also be made from other maple species. Serge Beaulieu, president of the Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers, is enthusiastic about the results of the studies and excited about maple syrup’s potential in neurological health.

“The Federation and the 7,300 Quebec maple enterprisers are committed to investing in scientific research to help better understand the link between food and health,” Bealieu said. “This has been demonstrated by a robust and carefully guided research program that started in 2005 to explore the potential health benefits of pure maple syrup.”

“We already know that maple has more than 100 bioactive compounds, some of which have anti-inflammatory properties. Brain health is the latest topic of exploration and we look forward to learning more about the potential benefits that maple syrup might have in this area,” he said.