Recent research has given us at least one good to drink some brew. The new study has identified a compound in hops known as xanthohumol (or Xn) which has been shown to improve cognitive function and help slow dementia. In other words, the scientists suggest that people who regularly drink beer might be better able to ward off the progression of neurological diseases.
The study, published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, states:
“Xanthohumol…a polyphenol chalcone from hops…has received increasing attention due to its multiple pharmacological activities. As an active component in beers, its presence has been suggested to be linked to the epidemiological observation of the beneficial effect of regular beer drinking…Our results demonstrate that Xn is a novel small-molecule activator of Nrf2 in neuronal cells and suggest that Xn might be a potential candidate for the prevention of neurodegenerative disorders.”
Kathy Magnusson, a professor in the OSU Department of Biomedical Sciences, principal investigator with the Linus Pauling Institute and corresponding author on this study, said:
“This flavonoid and others may have a function in the optimal ability to form memories. Part of what this study seems to be suggesting is that it’s important to begin early in life to gain the full benefits of healthy nutrition.”
Daniel Zamzow, a former OSU doctoral student and now a lecturer at the University of Wisconsin/Rock County also notes how other research focusing on xanthohumol has uncovered even more benefits. According to past research, xanthohumol can speed up metabolism and reduce fatty acids in the liver – in addition to improving cognitive flexibility. A study has even found evidence for the potential application of XN as a novel, readily available chemopreventive agent.
But in this recent study, the compound didn’t have the same effect on older mice tested.
“…Unfortunately it did not reduce palmitoylation in older mice, or improve their learning or cognitive performance, at least in the amounts of the compound we gave them,” Zamzow said.
Of course even with research like this showcasing a benefit of indulging, excessive drinking should be avoided. Everything in moderation, right? What these findings provide for the average person is a little comfort for those who choose to drink, regardless of the potential negative health effects. Looks like wine doesn’t hold ALL the health-glory.