Moderate alcohol consumption may boost good cholesterol while decreasing the bad kind, and boost antioxidant activity in the body.
In the study of over 1,300 older adults, the researchers discovered that those who drank almost daily—five to seven days a week—were about twice as likely to reach age 85 without cognitive impairment than those who drank less. And they were more than three times as likely to make it to that age at all.
The amount seemed to matter, too: People who drank moderately to heavily—up to four drinks a day for men—were significantly more likely to hit old age with their cognitive functions intact than non-drinkers were.
Moderate alcohol consumption may boost good cholesterol while decreasing the bad kind, and boost antioxidant activity in the body—possibly preserving optimal blood flow to the brain, the researchers say. Alcohol may also stimulate the release of a neurotransmitter called acetylcholine, which may be beneficial for learning and memory.
Still, before you get too excited, the researchers are quick to point out that boozing it up is likely not solely responsible for living longer and sharper. That’s because alcohol consumption—particularly wine—is more common in people with higher income and education levels, which is linked to better health outcomes, due to things like lower rates of smoking and better access to health care, they said in a statement.
So limit your daily booze consumption to up to two drinks a day—that’s the max recommended. And if you want other ways to protect your brain, try upping your fruit intake. Eating citrus fruits nearly every day can cut your risk of dementia by 23 percent, as we reported.