A new study says that a chemical compound found in red wine and dark chocolate can help improve memory.
The study reported in the Journal of Neuroscience mainly focused on resveratrol. For the study, a team of researchers from the Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin, in Germany looked at 46 healthy, but overweight people. For a period of six months, half of the participants received 200 milligrams of resveratrol supplements daily and the rest took placebo," Live Science reported.
Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), researchers scanned participants' brains. They also collected blood samples from the participants and sent them for testing. The participants also gave memory tests that included memorising certain words on a list 30 minutes after going through them.
Regular intake of the resveratrol supplements was associated with improvements in short-term memory. Participants who took the resveratrol supplements remembered more words than people who received placebo. Resveratrol group had better communication within the hippocampus or the brain region related to memory. People who took the chemical supplement also had comparatively lower levels of a blood sugar marker.
"From a clinical point of view, our findings suggest that regular, high-level intake of resveratrol in the elderly may convey protective effects on cognitive functions, a hypothesis that now needs to be evaluated in large-scale clinical trials," Witte told Live Science.
Resveratrol comes from a class of polyphenolic compounds (a type of antioxidants) known as stilbenes. Plants make the chemical compound to protect against fungal or bacterial infection, injury or to manage overexposure to ultraviolet radiation. Scientific studies show that these antioxidants can provide similar health benefits to human beings and guard against some free radicals that pose great risk to healthy cells, according to the Healthwithfood.org.
Dietary sources of resveratrol are seeds and skin of red grapes, peanuts; berries including mulberries, bilberries, cranberries and blueberries; cocoa powder, dark chocolate, Japanese knotweed and pistachios.
Similarly, several studies in the past have shown health benefits associated with foods rich in resveratrol. Scientists from Oregon State University reported in September that resveratrol in red grapes was effective in boosting the immune system.
In February, Dr Guido Kroemer of the Gustave Roussy Institute in Villejuif in France and colleagues conducted experiments on mice and found that resveratrol in red wine lowered the risk of developing cancer. Research has also shown that the chemical compound prevented dementia and Alzheimer's disease, cardiovascular diseases and improved life expectancy.