Abscisic Acid And Diabetes

Abscisic acid in maple syrup occurs in concentrations that are of significance to have an effect on human health, according to the effective thresholds of abscisic acid reported by Guri et al. in 2007 (Clinical Nutrition 26:107-116). The physiological properties of abscisic acid have been known within the plant world for some time, but its health benefits for humans has only recently been realized. Along with other effects, it is known to stimulate insulin release through pancreatic cells and to increase sensitivity of fat cells to insulin, which makes it a powerful weapon against metabolic syndrome and diabetes. (Federation of Quebec Maple Producers, Press Release, March 4, 2010)

Research conducted by Yves Desjardin and his colleagues of Laval University has found that both maple syrup and sap contain equally important quantities of terpenes, and in particular, abscisic acid (ABA), a phytohormone whose health benefits have only recently been discovered. Along with other effects, ABA is known to stimulate insulin release through pancreatic cells and to increase the sensitivity of fat cells to insulin, making it a useful weapon against metabolic syndrome and diabetes.

Research by Dr. Yves Desjardins at Laval University has found maple syrup to contain high levels of abscisic acid, a promising phytohormone that could provide health benefits. Abscisic acid is known to stimulate the release of insulin by pancreatic cells, increase fat cell sensitivity and promote muscle sugar absorption. Because of this, it acts as a potential therapeutic agent against metabolic syndrome and diabetes.

Geneviève Béland, Director of Promotion and Market Development for the Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers, on Yves Desjardins research on ABA: “These findings show that maple products contain a whole host of complementary active elements. The sugar molecules which provide the energy and sweetness in maple products are inherently complemented by abscisic acid molecules because they encourage insulin homeostasis. Further studies are obviously needed before we can more accurately understand how eating maple products effects insulin behaviour.
Studying maple products is of particular interest to the food science sector when we consider that all the bioactive molecules of the sugar maple are carried in its sap and that these molecules are forty times more concentrated in maple syrup.”

Maple syrup may prove to be relevant in Type 2 diabetes management, although the findings must be verified in clinical trials. “We discovered that the polyphenols in maple syrup inhibit enzymes that are involved in the conversion of carbohydrate to sugar,” said Seeram. “In fact, in preliminary studies maple syrup had a greater enzyme-inhibiting effect compared to several other healthy plant foods such as berries, when tested on a dry-weight basis. By 2050, one in three people will be afflicted with Type 2 diabetes and more and more people are looking for healthier diets, so finding a potential anti-diabetic compound in maple syrup is interesting for the scientific community and the consumer,” said Seeram.