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The sugar substitute that may actually be good for your brain

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Photo: Sterling College/Wikimedia

When it comes to the sweet stuff, your order of maple syrup may come with a side of improved brain health, according to new research.

Studies show that pure maple syrup may help protect brain cells against the kind of damage found in Alzheimer’s disease, News Medical reports—and as a result, the American Chemical Society included it for the first time on its list of healthful, functional foods that show brain-boosting promise (along with green tea, red wine, and curcumin, a component of turmeric).

Of course, we’re not talking about the bargain-brand maple-flavored syrups you might find in your grandma’s pantry. The studies are looking at pure maple syrup—which come directly from the sap of a maple tree—so, yes, you’ll have to shell out for the good stuff to try it out yourself.

Further studies are needed to confirm these findings, the scientists told News Medical. But in the wake of recent news that Splenda is linked to leukemia and other blood cancers, it’s reassuring to know that there are still healthier sweeteners to choose from. And though they should all be consumed in moderation, why not sweeten the deal by selecting one with the extra potential benefit of better brain health?

If you’re just getting started in cutting back on sugar, here are six tips to help you give it up, and a few sneaky sources of sugar you might not have thought about.