A compound found in foods including red wine, grapes, and peanuts may help prevent age-related memory loss, according to new research published by a faculty member in the Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine.
Texas A&M professor and researcher Ashok K. Shetty has been studying the potential benefit of resveratrol, an antioxidant that has been widely touted for its potential to prevent heart disease. Shetty and a team that includes other researchers from the health science center believe it also has positive effects on the hippocampus, an area of the brain that is critical to memory, according to a press release. The team's findings were published online Jan. 28 in Scientific Reports. The report said that treatment with resveratrol had apparent benefits in terms of learning, memory and mood function in aged rats.
Because both humans and animals show a decline in cognitive capacity after middle age, the findings may have implications for treating memory loss in the elderly. Resveratrol may even be able to help people afflicted with severe neurodegenerative conditions such as Alzheimer's disease, said the report.
"The results of the study were striking," Shetty said 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."
"The study provides novel evidence that resveratrol treatment in late middle age can help improve memory and mood function in old age," Shetty said.
In recent years, resveratrol has gained a lot of attention for its reported anti-aging and disease-combating benefits. Studies have linked it to reducing inflammation, preventing the oxidation of LDL "bad" cholesterol, and making it harder for platelets to stick together and form the clots that can lead to a heart attack. Not all studies agree though that it is a silver bullet to preventing health issues. One study found resveratrol diminished the positive effects of exercise in humans.