Healthy Maple Syrup for Your Liver
As if you need another reason to love maple syrup, researchers have found that eating maple syrup can benefit the liver. Drs. Keiko Abe (University of Tokyo) and Melissa Palmer (American Liver Foundation) received funding for the research by the Conseil pour le développement de l’agriculture du Québec (CDAQ) and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) on behalf of the Canadian Maple Syrup Industry and by the Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers. Does the fact that the money came from the maple syrup industry raise eyebrows. Sure – as it should. We can’t just accept study results without investigating who might benefit from the findings. But, we shouldn’t just discount it either.
The research found that maple syrup has antioxidant phenolic compounds that are released when it’s heated. That’s good. Because it’s a natural product that has some proven health benefits, it’s becoming more popular throughout the world. And that’s good for the Canadian, and more specifically, the Quebec economy. Maple syrup is now a huge seller in Japan. The Japanese, always on the lookout for natural foods that play a role in disease prevention, love 100% pure maple syrup from Canada and are particularly interested in its various benefits.
In the study, rats were fed diets consisting of 20% pure maple syrup, or 20% syrup mixture with similar sugar content as maple syrup but without the beneficial compounds of maple syrup. After 11 days, the rats on the maple syrup diet showed significantly decreased levels of liver enzymes AST, ALT and LDH in the blood. Those enzymes are the ones doctors look at to determine whether or not the liver is functioning as it should. The maple syrup diet increased the potential of those enzymes in reducing harmful ammonia that could eventually seriously harm the liver. Now, don’t quote this study as a reason to pour maple syrup over everything that passes your lips. Moderation, right?
If nothing else, this study accomplishes two important goals. First, it focusses attention on the liver, an organ that most people take for granted but which is absolutely essential to human life. It performs hundreds of functions essential to life, including storing energy, regulating blood glucose, producing certain amino acids and filtering harmful substances out of the blood. Second, it reminds us that the more natural and less processed a food product is, the better it is for us.