The potent phenolic compound resveratrol and its close cousin, pterostilbene, have long been touted for their anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory and blood sugar-lowering health benefits. Now, information published in the prestigious journal publications Neurobiology of Aging and The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry portrays these two compounds as powerful brain-boosting agents, enhancing cognitive and mental function while lowering the risk from many forms of dementia.
Pterostilbene, which is chemically similar to resveratrol, is a bioactive protective compound commonly found in many fresh fruits and vegetables. Numerous research studies show the two compounds act to reduce inflammation throughout the body, a process behind 7 of the 10 most common disease processes that lead to death. Furthermore, including this potent duo as part of your healthy diet, or from supplementation, may help aid memory retention.
Resveratrol Stimulates Insulin Growth Factor to Impede Cognitive Decline
Resveratrol is a bioactive compound extracted most commonly from the skin of red grapes and found at differing concentrations in red wine.
Researchers in Japan Working with mice examined the effect of consuming red wine with a resveratrol concentration of 20 mg per liter, compared with a lower concentration of 3.1 mg per liter.  A typical glass of red wine averages 4.7 mg per liter of resveratrol concentration.
The scientists found that the higher resveratrol concentration resulted in improved cognitive function using a variety of spatial and memory intensive tests. The benefits were linked to an increase in the production of a peptide called insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I) that promotes the growth of blood vessels and neurons in the hippocampus region of the brain.
Researchers commented, “It is thus possible that drinking red wine with regular concentrations of resveratrol for long periods lowers the risk of age-associated cognitive decline.”
Experts recommend an intake of 25 mg to 50 mg of resveratrol each day for optimal health effects. (If you’re looking for a high-quality resveratrol supplement, you can click here.)
Pterostilbene Lowers Markers of Cellular Stress and Inflammation
In a separate research study conducted at Case Western Reserve University and Tufts University, two groups of mice were fed either identical doses of resveratrol or pterostilbene, about the equivalent of drinking two glasses of wine. While both compounds were found to boost levels of cognition, those receiving the pterostilbene demonstrated modulated markers of cellular stress and inflammation. This effect was not seen in the resveratrol supplemented mice.
The researchers concluded that because of the slight structural difference between the two compounds, “This change may lead to a better bioavailability of pterostilbene and consequently a more neuroprotective effect in the brain.”
Pterostilbene is available naturally through a diet including blueberries, grapes, cranberries and olive oil, or can be supplemented (50 mg per day) to meet nutritional goals. Both compounds provide a healthy synergistic effect that can help preserve memories and mental function as we age.
 Harada N et al. Resveratrol improves cognitive function in mice by increasing production of insulin-like growth factor-I in the hippocampus. The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry. Dec 2011; 22:12, 1150-59.
 Changa J et al. Low-dose pterostilbene, but not resveratrol, is a potent neuromodulator in aging and Alzheimer’s disease. Neurobiology of Aging. 7 Oct 2011. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.neurobiolaging.2011.08.015.