Certain Foods May Cut Men’s Risk for Parkinson’s

Friday, April 20th, 2012 by American Senior Fitness Association   View This Issue of Experience!

Frequent consumption of foods and drinks that are abundant in flavonoids may reduce men’s risk for Parkinson’s disease by 40 percent, according to research headed by Xiang Gao of Harvard Medical School, the Harvard School of Public Health, and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.

Flavonoids are protective substances present in plant foods that help to ward off oxidative damage to the body’s cells. Dietary fare that is rich in flavonoids includes:

  • Tea
  • Orange juice
  • Red wine
  • Apples
  • Berries
  • Recently published online in the journal Neurology, the study looked at health and nutritional data from roughly 50,000 men and 80,000 women. Over a follow-up period of 20 to 22 years, 438 of the men and 367 of the women developed Parkinson’s. The results were somewhat puzzling: Whereas men with high overall flavonoid intakes saw a 40 percent reduction in risk, women’s overall intake was not statistically significant. Even so, women who ate at least two servings of berries per week did see a reduction in risk (about 25 percent). These findings do not apply to persons who already have Parkinson’s disease.

    Quoted in HealthDay, an affiliate of the National Institutes of Health, Dr. Gao said, "For total flavonoids, the beneficial result was only in men. But berries are protective in both men and women. Berries could be a neuroprotective agent. People can include berries in their regular diet. There are no harmful effects from berry consumption, and they lower the risk of hypertension too."

    Berries such as strawberries and blueberries may be especially protective because they are rich in a certain type flavonoid called anthocyanins.

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