According to new research published by the Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine, the powerful polyphenol resveratrol may help prevent age-related memory decline.

Resveratrol has been widely publicized for its cardiovascular health benefits. However, researchers believe it also has positive effects on the hippocampus, an area of the brain involved in memory (in particular, long-term memory), learning, mood and spatial navigation.

Since natural cognitive decline occurs after middle-age, the study’s findings may have implications in helping with age-related memory loss in the elderly. Resveratrol may also be useful in helping with neurodegenerative conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease.

In this study, which was published in Scientific Reports, researchers reported that the use of resveratrol had significant benefits in learning, memory and mood in aged rats.

“The results of the study were striking,” Shetty said. “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 results demonstrated neurogenesis 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.

This study provides evidence that the use of resveratrol in middle-aged individuals may help support improved memory and mood function as they age.