In case you weren’t already convinced that maple syrup is liquid gold, scientists have found a new reason for us to love the sweet stuff.
Researchers at L’Université Laval in Quebec City recently discovered that quebecol, a molecule found in maple syrup, has properties for fighting the body’s inflammatory response. When something has “anti-inflammatory properties” it means that it reduces inflammation or swelling, and is often used as a painkiller. Therefore, the molecule could someday be synthesized to help treat arthritis and other inflammatory diseases.
Quebecol was first discovered in 2011, and is the result of chemical reactions that take place during the maple syrup cooking process, which transform the naturally occurring polyphenols in the sap.
The researchers also found that derivatives of quebecol had an even greater effect.
“The most powerful derivative has a simpler structure and is easier to synthesize than quebecol,” Voyer said in the release. “This paves the way for a whole new class of anti-inflammatory agents, inspired by quebecol, that could compensate for the low efficacy of certain treatments while reducing the risk of side effects.”
Quebec is already the largest producer of maple syrup by far—the province accounts for 71 percent of the world’s supply, which contributes $750 million annually to Canada’s GDP, and explains a lot about why the special sap has become such a big part of our country’s identity.
Interestingly enough, this research isn’t directly tied to the industry—it’s actually an independent project carried out by a couple of Quebec men who love maple syrup. Voyer calls it “scientific patriotism.“
But don’t start dousing everything in syrup just yet—Voyer told Buzzfeed Canada that despite the fact that maple syrup has shown to have some anti-inflammatory properties in the past, the concentration of quebecol isn’t high enough to make a significant difference.
“Unfortunately the concentration of quebecol within maple syrup is way too low that you wouldn’t be able to get any bioactivity by drinking it,” Voyer said.
So while it’s not exactly the result we were hoping for, it is good news for the province’s maple syrup industry. And hey, we still think it’s worth mentioning “maple syrup’s anti-inflammatory properties” the next time your significant other says you’re overdoing it on the syrup.