If only beer were as good for you as the press has been making red wine out to be. The pub crawlers everywhere could celebrate with a hearty and healthy brew! Now, they may have reason to do just hat. Researchers have found a compound from hops could help protect the brain from damage, and potentially even slow the onset of Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease.

Before we go on, it should be noted that excess alcohol consumption of any kind is indisputably unhealthy. Getting drunk and blacking out has been constantly tied to brain damage and reduced cognition in numerous studies.

However, regular responsible consumption of alcohol has also been associated with several benefits.

In a study recently published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, researchers detail how a compound found in hops, called xanthohumol, boasts properties like antioxidation and cardiovascular protection.

The American Chemical Society explained in a recent release that "mounting evidence suggests that oxidative damage to neuronal cells contributes to the development of diseases that originate in the brain."

This damage is caused by oxidative stress, a disturbance between the production of reactive oxygen-containing molecules essential for cell signaling (called free radicals) and antioxidant defenses.

While free radicals are useful to the body, the can also cause a lot of harm after reacting with things they are not meant to. Antioxidants normally prevent these reactions by donating an electron to the free radicals without becoming destabilized themselves. However, imbalances between oxidants and antioxidants can occur, with the resulting stress leading to neural damage, gene mutations and cancers, chronic fatigue, and even heart problems.

That's where xanthohumol comes in. In a series of lab tests, it proved itself a protector of neuronal cells specifically from oxidative stress, leading to a new and tentative conclusion that it could be a good candidate for staving off Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease.

However, throwing back a few bears might now cut it. Researcher have a lot of work ahead of them in order to determine at what concentration and in what way this compound should be given to patients.

For more great nature science stories and general news, please visit our sister site, Headlines and Global News (HNGN).