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Harvard study shows flavonoid-rich foods cut risk of cognitive decline

on September 07, 2021

A new study from Harvard University has revealed how eating flavonoid and anthocyanin-rich foods are important for enjoying better cognitive function later in life. 

The study, published in Neurology, followed nearly 80,000 middle-aged people for more than 20 years.

Anthocyanins, found in red, purple and blue fruits and vegetables (of which CurraNZ is a concentrated source), were associated with a 24% reduction in risk. 

 It showed that foods, particularly citrus, celery and peppers, which contain ‘flavones’ – a subclass of flavonoids, had the strongest association with a 36% reduction in risk of cognitive decline.




The researchers found the best results came from individuals who kept up a consistently high intake of flavonoids and anthocyanins.


"Higher intake of flavonoid-rich food led to better cognitive function later in life"

Cognitive function was improved by flavonoids, whether they were consumed 20 years earlier, or more recently, highlighting that it is never too late to start.

Dr Tian-Shin Yeh, who led the Harvard study, says: “The large sample size and long follow-up duration are some of the strengths of this study

“We were able to evaluate the associations between the long-term consumption of flavonoid-rich foods and late-life cognitive function. 

“What we found was that men and women with higher intake of flavonoid-rich foods over many years had better cognitive function later in life. 

“We controlled for other dietary factors, including dietary intakes for carotenoids, Vitamin C, D, E, Omega-3 fatty acids, sugar-sweetened beverages, whole grain, fine grain and animal fat. 

Dr Yeh is hoping to see a larger randomised trial involving thousands of people.

“There are some short-term randomised control trials suggesting that flavonoid supplements may be beneficial for cognitive performance, and future studies, perhaps with longer-durations and larger sample sizes, are needed to confirm the findings.”



Blackcurrants contain significantly high amounts of anthocyanins, which are a subclass of flavonoid phytochemicals. Smaller studies2 have so far supported the Harvard research, by improving cognitive outcomes, such as attention, alertness and reduced mental fatigue.

As a high-potency anthocyanin extract, CurraNZ delivers the equivalent of a generous handful of New Zealand blackcurrants, which have the highest concentrations of these important phytochemicals of any berry grown worldwide. 



  1. Long-term Dietary Flavonoid Intake and Subjective Cognitive Decline in US Men and Women, Neurology First published July 28, 2021, DOI:
  2. Review of the Cognitive Effects Observed in Humans Following Acute Supplementation with Flavonoids, and Their Associated Mechanisms of Action Nutrients2015, 7(12), 10290-10306;