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A pancake’s best friend can save your brain

I’m a steak-and-eggs kinda guy, so you won’t find me chowing down on flapjacks for breakfast very often.

But there IS one part of a pancake breakfast that I do keep handy to use in place of sugar, and that’s maple syrup.

It can bring a touch of sweetness to yogurt… used as a glaze on pork chops… and even make oatmeal tolerable.

That last one’s practically a miracle, if you ask me — but new research finds maple syrup has an even bigger trick up its trunk: This stuff just might hold the secret to STOPPING the damage in the brain that leads to Alzheimer’s disease.

If you know anything about maple syrup, it’s that this stuff is sticky… and the good, dark syrups are about as sticky as tar.

But in your brain, it can do just the opposite. Some of the 100 bioactive compounds in maple syrup can stop the formation of the sticky clumps of plaques and tangles that mark the looming onset of dementia and dementia-like symptoms.

Once they form, it’s as if the phone lines have been knocked out — because your brain cells can’t properly communicate with each other, setting the stage for dementia and other brain problems.

The researchers say this might help prevent Alzheimer’s if you don’t have it yet, or slow it down and extend your life once you do get the disease.

That’s all well and good, but let’s not get too carried away. While maple is better than sugar, it’s still basically just sugar. Depending on which kind you get, maple syrup is roughly two-thirds sugar.

The active compounds and other nutrients — including some that fight inflammation — make it better than pure sugar, but it still needs to be used somewhat sparingly.

If you need to sweeten up some oatmeal or yogurt, feel free to add a splash. But the one-two punch of the sugar in syrup combined with all the empty carbs in a stack of flapjacks will cause your blood sugar to spike — and that will wreck your brain, not save it.

And if you’re going to use it, make sure you get the right stuff.

A lot of syrups out there contain little to no maple. Make sure you get 100 percent pure maple syrup, ideally organic. The grades have nothing to do with quality; Grade A is lighter in color and flavor while Grade B is darker and richer.

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