Eating and drinking foods rich in flavonoids, including berries, tea, apples and red wine, can lower the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease, new research suggests. Researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston examined the correlation between flavonoid intake and risk of Parkinson’s disease in men participating in the Health Professional Follow-up Study and women in the Nurse’s Health Study. While the highest intake of total flavonoids indicated up to 40% lower risk for men, only consumption of several weekly servings of berries showed a risk reduction in women. Parkinson’s disease is a degenerative condition of the central nervous system, affecting about 500,000 Americans, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. Flavonoids are substances found in plant foods that help prevent damage to human cells, known as oxidative damage. Berries such as strawberries are rich in anthocyanins, a type of flavonoid. The anthocyanins in berries have been shown to protect cells from oxidative damage and also have an anti-inflammatory effect, which may be how they help reduce Parkinson’s risk. When researchers looked at the dietary compounds individually, it was clear that berries benefitted everyone, lowering the risk of Parkinson’s disease by about 25 percent for those consuming only two servings of berries a week.
From Neurology®: Habitual intake of dietary flavonoids and risk of Parkinson’s disease X. Gao, A. Cassidy, M.A. Schwarzshild, et al. Neurology 2012;78; 1138;
Published online before print April 4, 2012; DOI 10.1212/WNL.0b013e31824f7fc4 http://www.neurology.org/content/78/15/1138.short?rss=1