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Feb 05, 2015 12:19 AM EST

Red Wine, Grapes May Help Prevent Memory Loss

New research suggests that consuming red grapes and peanuts could help prevent memory loss.

Researchers at Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine found that resveatrol, a compound found in common foods such as red grapes, red wine, peanuts and some berries, may prevent age-related decline in memory,

Resveratrol has been widely touted for its potential to prevent heart disease, researchers believe it also has positive effects on the hippocampus, an area of the brain that is critical to functions such as memory, learning and mood.

Ashok K. Shetty, who led the study, and his research team members reported that treatment with resveratrol had apparent benefits in terms of learning, memory and mood function in aged rats. The neurogenesis (the growth and development of neurons) approximately doubled in the rats given resveratrol compared to the control rats. The resveratrol-treated rats also had significantly improved microvasculature, indicating improved blood flow, and had a lower level of chronic inflammation in the hippocampus.

"The results of the study were striking," Shetty said in a statement. "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."

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.

"The study provides novel evidence that resveratrol treatment in late middle age can help improve memory and mood function in old age," Shetty said.

The findings are detailed in the online journal Scientific Reports.

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