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Maple syrup, the new brain food

Maple syrup in poured over pancakes during the premier's annual Calgary Stampede Breakfast in Calgary, Alberta, July 7, 2014. The pancake breakfast is a long tradition for companies and politicians to hold for the general public during the 10 days of the Calgary Stampede. REUTERS/Todd Korol (CANADA - Tags: POLITICS)

Washington: A team of researchers has tagged maple syrup as a promising option in protecting brain neurons and nurturing young minds.

The University of Montreal researchers discovered that maple syrup can actually help protect neurons from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS.

This study was done with C. elegans worms, which were genetically modified to express TDP-43 that is related to ALS and will result in 50 percent of the worms being completely paralyzed after two weeks.

The worms were given some maple syrup at various concentrations. At the two week mark, only 17 percent of the worms were paralyzed, showing that the syrup did in fact help protect them from the illness.

The reason maple syrup helped is because it contains sugar and some powerful antioxidants, polyphenols.

“Sugar is good for the nervous system. Diseased neurons require more energy to combat toxic proteins. But maple syrup is rich in polyphenols, powerful antioxidants found in certain foods,” said researcher Martine Therrien.

Therrien added, “We isolated phenols contained in the maple syrup, and we showed that two polyphenols in particular, gallic acid and catechol, have a neuroprotective effect. In pure maple syrup, these polyphenols are found in low concentrations. Probably a combination of sugar and polyphenols prevents the occurrence of the disease in worms.”

The study appears in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. (ANI)