(HealthDay News) – Flavonoid-rich blueberries and strawberries may reduce cognitive decline in elderly women.

Elizabeth E. Devore, ScD, from Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston, and colleagues administered a semiquantitative food frequency questionnaire to participants of the Nurses’ Health Study every four years beginning in 1980. Cognitive function was measured from 1995–2001 in 16,010 participants (≥70 years) and two follow-up assessments were carried out at two-year intervals.

The researchers found that greater consumption of blueberries and strawberries was significantly correlated with slower rates of cognitive decline, as measured by a global score averaging six cognitive tests (comparing extreme quartiles of intake: for blueberries, p-trend=0.014; for strawberries, p-trend=0.022). These estimates of effect were equivalent to about 1.5–2.5 years of age in the study cohort, suggesting that berry intake may delay cognitive aging by up to 2.5 years. Increased intakes of anthocyanidins and total flavonoids were significantly correlated with slower rates of cognitive decline (for the global score, p-trend=0.015 and 0.053, respectively).

“Higher intake of flavonoids, particularly from berries, appears to reduce rates of cognitive decline in older adults,” the authors write.

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