You may have one more reason to raise a glass to red wine.
Resveratrol, a component of red wine, peanuts and other foods, may protect a part of the brain that deals with memory, a new study found. Consuming resveratrol could help preserve your memory, particularly in old age.
“The results of the study were striking,” said study author Ashok K. Shetty, PhD, director of neurosciences at the Institute for Regenerative Medicine in Temple, TX, in a press release. “They indicated that for the control rats who did not receive resveratrol, spatial learning ability was largely maintained but ability to make new spatial memories significantly declined between 22 and 25 months. By contrast, both spatial learning and memory improved in the resveratrol-treated rats.”
Spatial learning refers to the process by which animals and people gain information about their environment to help them move through it.
The rate at which neurons in the brain grew doubled in rats that received resveratrol — versus rats that did not receive the compound. The rats who received resveratrol also showed improved blood flow in their brains.
Memory and other cognitive abilities can begin to decline in middle age, Dr. Shetty said.
“The study provides novel evidence that resveratrol treatment in late middle age can help improve memory and mood function in old age,” Dr. Shetty said.
Resveratrol has already been studied for its ability to help patients keep their hearts healthy by preventing damage to blood vessels and reducing "bad" cholesterol, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Dr. Shetty and team theorized that resveratrol may improve blood flow and decrease the rate of chronic inflammation in the hippocampus, which controls mood, memory and the ability to learn.
Resveratrol is also found in red grapes, blueberries, peanut butter and dark chocolate.
This study was published Jan. 28 in Scientific Reports.
The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine at the National Institutes of Health funded this research. Dr. Shetty and team disclosed no conflicts of interest.