Sex hormone changes in adults are known to play a part in aging, including cognitive aging. Dietary intake of phytoestrogens can mimic estrogenic effects on brain function. Since sex hormones differ between genders, it is important to examine gender differences in the phytoestrogen–cognition association. Therefore, the goal of this study is to examine the relationship between urinary phytoestrogens and speed of processing (SOP) and the variation of the association between genders in older adults. Participants were drawn from the 1999–2002 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey and included 354 individuals aged 65–85 years old. General linear models (GLMs) were used to test for significant gender differences in the relationship between phytoestrogens and SOP. Results from the GLMs showed significant gender differences in the relationship between genistein and SOP. Higher levels of genistein were associated with better SOP in women. This relationship was reversed in men: higher genistein levels were associated with worse performance. Results indicate that there are distinct gender differences in the relationship between genistein and SOP. These results emphasize the importance of considering gender differences when devising dietary and pharmacologic interventions that target phytoestrogens to improve brain health.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1780
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Food Science
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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