New research published in Neurology indicates men who regularly eat berries and other flavonoid-rich foods have a significantly reduced risk of developing Parkinson’s disease. Those who ate only one bowl of berries per week had a 25 percent lower risk, while those who consumed the highest quantity of these foods had a 40 percent lower risk compared to those who consumed the least.
Flavonoids are antioxidants that are protective against a broad spectrum of illnesses including heart disease, cancer and dementia. Sources of these compounds are plant-based foods and drinks having purple, yellow, orange and red skins. This not only includes berries of all varieties, but also tea and eggplant, along with grapefruit and dark beans.
Antioxidants assist in neutralizing free radicals, harmful by-products of metabolism, in the body that can be detrimental to cell membranes and DNA. The cells of the brain are especially vulnerable to the destructive effects of these substances, which may help account for the findings of the study.
As many as 1 million Americans are afflicted with Parkinson’s disease, a progressive neurological condition involving tremors and muscular stiffness, affecting all movements in the body. There is no cure, although drugs and surgery are used to curtail symptoms.
In the study, scientists from Harvard and the University of East Angliain the UK followed 120,000 men and women over a 20-year period. During this time, 800 of the participants developed Parkinson’s disease. Dietary evaluation showed men who consumed the most flavonoids had a 40 percent lower likelihood of developing the disease. Surprisingly, the same benefit was not discernible in women.
Mail Online records the response to the findings of some authors involved in the research. Xiang Gao of Harvard states the results suggest these compounds may have a neuroprotective benefit and advises that due to the other potential health effects of berries, it is a good idea to incorporate them into your diet regularly.
Although further studies are needed to confirm the results, some members of the medical community are excited. Stuart Isaacson, director of Parkinson’s Disease and Movement Disorders Center of Boca Raton, asserts that it is the first large investigation to indicate eating berries and other food sources of flavonoids can lower the risk of the disease, WebMD reports. He adds that for those seeking a healthy, holistic way of lowering Parkinson’s risk, eating berries may make sense.