These discoveries of new molecules from nature can also provide chemists with leads that could prompt synthesis of medications that could be used to fight fatal diseases, Seeram said.
“We know that the compounds are anti-inflammatory agents and that inflammation has been implicated in several chronic diseases, such as heart disease, diabetes, certain types of cancers and neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s,” Seeram said.
As part of his diabetes research, Seeram has collaborated with Chong Lee, professor of nutrition and food sciences in URI’ s College of the Environment and Life Science
s. The scientists have found that maple syrup phenolics, the beneficial anti-oxidant compounds, inhibit two carbohydrate hydrolyzing enzymes that are relevant to Type 2 diabetes management.
The irony of finding a potenti
al anti-diabetes compound in a sweetener is not lost on Seeram.
“Not all sweeteners are created equal,” he said.