Drinking red wine has been touted to be good for the health, but many of its benefits are associated with heart health.

Researchers from the Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine have now uncovered that red wine's benefits extend to preventing memory loss.

Red wine's health benefits are attributed to resveratrol, an antioxidant found in red grapes, some berries and peanuts.

Ashok Shetty Ph.D. has been studying the antioxidant to explore its other benefits, believing that it also has positive effects on the brain's hippocampus, which is the part responsible for functions such as mood, learning and memory.

Working with aged rats, Shetty and colleagues were able to show that resveratrol may have the ability to treat memory loss in older adults, pointing out the similarities in how cognitive capacity in humans and animals decline after middle age. With the effects resveratrol has on treating memory loss, it also has the potential to alleviate severe neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's.

Researchers considered the results of the study striking. Spatial ability was largely maintained in the rats who didn't get resveratrol but after 22 to 25 months, the ability started to decline dramatically.

"By contrast, both spatial learning and memory improved in the resveratrol-treated rats," added Shetty.

He further explained that the growth and development of neurons in the rasveratrol-treated rats doubled during the study compared to the rats in the control group. Those given resveratrol also had better microvasculatures, which indicated improvements in blood flow. Lower levels of chronic inflammation within the hippocampus were also recorded.

The researchers worked with 344 male Fischer rats aged 21 months old following animal protocols that have been approved by the Durham Veterans Affairs Medical Center's animal studies subcommittee. Before the study started, the rats were given a period of seven to 10 days to get acclimatized with the area they were being kept in.

The results of the study offered unique evidence that using resveratrol as treatment during late middle age can aid in improving mood and memory function in older adults. However, how much resveratrol would be needed to acquire memory loss protection was not specified by the researchers.

Published in the journal scientific reports, the study received funding support from the National Institutes of Health's National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Aside from Shetty, Maheedhar Kodali, Bing Shuai, Vipan Parihar, Vikas Mishra and Bharathi Hattiangady were also co-authors.

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