September 4/New York/Health Central -- Drinking wine in moderation may actually ward off depression, according to research published in the journalBMC Medicine. Scientists at the University of Navarra in Spain say moderate drinking of wine could have similar protective effects against depression as has been found with coronary heart disease.

The study followed more than 5,500 light-to-moderate drinkers for up to seven years. The participants were between 55-80 years old, had never suffered from depression or had alcohol-related problems when the study started. Their alcohol consumption, mental health and lifestyles were followed through yearly visits, medical exams, interviews and questionnaires. Wine was the main alcoholic beverage drunk by participants. Ultimately, researchers found that those who drank two to seven small glasses of wine per week had the lowest rates of depression.

Researchers say that the non-alcoholic compounds in the wine, such as resveratrol and other phenolic compounds, may have a protective effect on certain parts of the brain.