The pancake topping may help to stop the brain cell damage that leads to dementia.

Maple syrup, the perennial favourite for pancakes, waffles and French toast, could be doing more than just brightening up your breakfast.

Researchers from the American Chemical Society have been studying its effects on brain health. After examining 24 studies that focused on promoting a healthy brain through diet, they found that maple syrup – which comes from the sap of a maple tree – could help to prevent the proteins that clump together in the brain and trigger Alzheimer’s disease.

What’s more, the researchers also found that people who had already been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease could extend their life span by increasing the amount of maple syrup they ate.

‘Natural food products such as green tea, red wine, berries, curcumin and pomegranates continue to be studies for their potential benefits in combating Alzheimer’s disease,’ says lead researcher Dr Navindra Seeram. ‘And now, in preliminary laboratory-based Alzheimer’s disease studies, phenolic-enriched extracts of maple syrup from Canada showed neuroprotective effects, similar to resveratrol, a compound found in red wine.’

Maple syrup has already been linked with reducing the risk of cancer and diabetes. However, it’s also worth remembering that these studies were carried out on mice and a roundworm, and not on humans, and so further research needs to be conducted.

Pure maple syrup is extracted by tapping maple trees and extracting the sap, which is then heated to create a syrup. It is usually made in Canada and North America.