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Flavonoid-Rich Berries Linked With Slower Cognitive Decline

In addition to being delicious, berries are packed full of flavonoids with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. A recent, long-reaching study suggests that these flavonoids could help slow age related cognitive decline in women.

The study was conducted by researchers at Brigham and Women's Hospital in the United States. Their results were published online ahead of print on April 25, 2012, in Annals of Neurology.

The researchers examined data from the Nurses' Health Study, which included more than 120,000 women. Starting in 1976, food frequency questionnaires were administered every 4 years.

The specific data set that the researchers worked with included 16,010 women who were over the age of 70. Between 1995 and 2001, the women participated in memory and cognitive functioning tests every 2 years.

The researchers found that higher consumption of strawberries and blueberries was associated with up to 2.5 years delay in the onset of cognitive decline.

While this is not the first study to examine the effects of berry consumption on cognitive decline, it is more long-reaching than any study conducted this far. The researchers noted that more needs to be done to determine if the flavonoids found in the berries caused these positive results or if other lifestyle factors, such as exercise, had more of an effect.

The flavonoids found in berries have previously been linked with weight management, reducing cholesterol and possibly preventing some cancers. Berries can easily be added to your daily diet by including them in a balanced breakfast of whole grains and yogurt or substituting frozen berries for your favorite dessert.

While this study focused specifically on berries, other foods that are good sources of flavonoids include citrus fruit, kidney beans, walnuts, pistachios, onions and dark chocolate.

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