A recent study has found that everyone’s favourite breakfast accompaniment, maple syrup, may have properties that make it protect against Alzheimer’s disease. As if you needed more reasons to eat pancakes!
According to research conducted by the American Chemical Society, the sticky amber liquid – which comes from the sap of a maple tree – might help prevent proteins in the brain from ‘clumping’ together and triggering the disease, in a process that is referred to as fibrillation.
Researchers from the ACS, lead by Donald Weaver, of the Krembil Research Institute of the University of Toronto, examined results from 24 separate studies that all focused on promoting a healthy brain through diet.
In addition to finding that maple syrup could prevent Alzheimer’s; they also discovered that maple syrup could also extend the lifespan of patients already suffering with Alzheimer’s.
Canadian Maple Syrup
However, lead researcher Dr Navindra Seeram was quick to point out that it had to be authentic maple syrup.
“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.”
The president of the Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers, Serge Beaulieu, added to this, saying: “We already know that maple has more than 100 bioactive compounds, some of which have anti-inflammatory properties.”
The fact that maple contains anti-inflammatory properties may be the key as to why it is effective against Alzheimer’s, which is an autoimmune disease.
Antioxidants and Alzheimer’s
Antioxidants take many different types and forms, so it can often be quite hard to link a specific antioxidant or food to a result and incredibly hard to measure ‘scientifically’. There is no real solid evidence as of yet that antioxidants protect against Alzheimer’s, only studies that may suggest links.
However, increasing the amount of fresh fruit and vegetables in your diet is proven to have numerous benefits outside of increasing your antioxidant intake, so it is highly recommended.
Several studies have shown that ‘oxidative stress’ could form a part in the changes to the brain associated with Alzheimer’s disease. It is theorised that oxidative stress can lead to an ‘attack’ on the brain cells caused by free radicals.
Cells produce free radicals as a natural and normal by-product of energy production. These free radicals can have both beneficial and harmful effects on cells.
In high concentrations, these free radicals can damage proteins and DNA, as well as cell membranes. In order to prevent this damage, our bodies absorb ‘antioxidants’ from food – such as those found in maple.
Add more maple!
So all in all, this leads us to a delicious conclusion – we need to eat more pancakes, covered in maple syrup! Try covering them in other foods high in antioxidants too, such as blueberries and blackberries.
Not a massive fan of pancakes – but still want to get maple into your diet? Try glazing some pork or ribs in maple before cooking, to give them a lovely sticky finish. Delicious and healthy, what more could you ask for?