An ingredient in red wine may help to keep older people steady on their feet, research suggests.
Tests on ageing mice showed that a molecule found in dark grapes and red wine improved their sense of balance.
After four weeks, animals fed the compound resveratrol were able to navigate a narrow beam as well as young mice. Without the supplement, the older mice tended to stumble.
The findings may have implications for preventing life-threatening falls in older people, say scientists.
Lead researcher Dr Jane Cavenaugh, from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, US, said: "Our study suggests that a natural compound like resveratrol, which can be obtained either through dietary supplementation or diet itself, could actually decrease some of the motor deficiencies that are seen in our ageing population.
"And that would, therefore, increase an ageing person's quality of life and decrease their risk of hospitalisation due to slips and falls."
Resveratrol, a powerful antioxidant, may protect nerves from damage caused by destructive "free radical" oxygen molecules and activate biological pathways linked to cell survival, say the scientists.
The findings were presented at the annual meeting of the American Chemical Society in Philadelphia.
Dr Cavenaugh pointed out that resveratrol was poorly absorbed by the body, making wine consumption an unrealistic way to obtain it. A 150-pound person would have to drink almost 700 four ounce glasses of red wine a day to absorb beneficial levels of the compound.
However, even tiny effects of resveratrol in the brain might be enough to help prevent older people taking serious tumbles, Dr Cavenaugh added.
Her team was now investigating man-made compounds that mimic the effects of resveratrol and might be more bioavailable.
<strong>Bad rep:</strong> Coffee is bad for you because it increase blood pressure. <strong>Good news:</strong> If you can't make it through the day without your daily caffeine hit, here's some good news for you - drinking two to four cups of coffee a day could significantly reduce your risk of a stroke. The study discovered that people who drank two cups of coffee a day, reduced their risk of a stroke by 14%. Furthermore, big coffee drinkers, who downed up to four cups a day, were 17% less likely to suffer from a stroke or blood clots.
<strong>Bad rep:</strong> Bread is full of salt, sugar and bad carbohydrates, causing weight gain and soaring sugar levels. <strong>Good news:</strong> Swapping white bread with wholemeal, brown bread can increase fibre intake and contain complex carbohydrates, which boost energy levels.
<strong>Bad rep:</strong> Full of sugary fats and packed with caffeine <strong>Good news:</strong> No, you're not halloucinating - chocolate can be good for your health! A recent study by Wayne State University found that those who would rather eat chocolate than exercise can take heart from new research that suggests one is as good as the other. Scientists found that small amounts of dark chocolate may improve health in a similar way to exercise. How? Epicatechin, a plant compound in chocolate, appeared to stimulate the same muscle response as vigorous activity.
<strong>Bad rep:</strong> Increase cholesterol levels. <strong>Good news:</strong> Yes, egg yolks contain cholesterol, but they're also packed full of protein and are also good sources of choline, which has been linked with preserving memory, and lutein and zeaxanthin, which may protect against vision loss from age-related macular degeneration.
<strong>Bad rep:</strong> Full of saturated fat and salt. <strong>Good news:</strong> Peanut butter is loaded with 'good' fats, protein, vitamin E, niacin, folic acid, and magnesium.
<strong>Bad rep:</strong> Full of sugar and bad for your liver and waistline. <strong>Good news:</strong> An ingredient in red wine can stop breast cancer cells growing and may combat resistant forms of the disease, research suggests. Resveratrol, a plant chemical found in grapes and red wine, blocks the cancer-fuelling effects of the female hormone oestrogen, studies have shown. It can also inhibit the growth of breast cancer cells that have become hormone resistant, say scientists.