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Can Wine Actually Give Your Brain a Boost?

An antioxidant in wine called resveratrol may help you think according to a new study presented on April 1 at the 2009 British Psychological Societies Annual Conference.

Resveratrol is a powerful antioxidant found most abundantly in grape skins. The chemical is also present in cranberries, blueberries, and raspberries, but in smaller amounts.

Researchers from Northumbria University in Newcastle, England recruited 24 people for the study.

The participants were randomly given either 500 mg or 1000mg of resveratrol or a placebo. They then took a series of arithmetic tests while blood flow to the brain was monitored.

The group that received the resveratrol did significantly better on the tests and had increased blood flow to the brain.

The researchers note that they are currently in the process of implementing further tests in order to determine the optimum dosage necessary for these brain boosting effects.

Beyond possible cognitive benefits, previous studies have found an association between resveratrol and helping with increasing energy levels, regulating blood glucose levels in diabetics, lower risk of lung cancer, improving metabolism, and improved liver function. A number of studies have also determined that resveratrol may have anti-aging properties.

These benefits are likely due to resveratrol's strong antioxidant properties, which decreases oxidation processes in the body by neutralizing destructive free radicals.

The researchers stressed that these benefits are not meant to be taken as an excuse to drink more alcohol.  The potential health benefits of red wine are easily offset by the negative effects of drinking more than 1 or 2 glasses a day.

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