Past research bodies have confirmed the health-protective effect of a natural diet rich in flavonoids to protect against a wide range of diseases including heart disease, hypertension, some cancers and dementia. Researchers from Harvard University and the University of East Anglia have published the result of a study in the journal Neurology that demonstrates how these plant-based phytonutrients can significantly lower the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease, especially in men.
Flavonoids from healthy foods such as berries, tea, apples and red wine cross the delicate blood-brain barrier to protect neurons against neurologic diseases such as Parkinson's. This large scale study included more than 130,000 men and women participants that were followed for a period of twenty years. During this time, more than 800 individuals developed Parkinson’s disease.
A Diet High in Flavonoids from Berries Lowers Parkinson’s Disease Risk by Forty Percent
After a detailed analysis of their diets and adjusting for age and lifestyle, male participants who ate the most flavonoids were shown to be forty per cent less likely to develop the disease than those who ate the least. No similar link was found for total flavonoid intake in women. Co-lead study author, Dr. Aedin Cassidy noted “These exciting findings provide further confirmation that regular consumption of flavonoids can have potential health benefits.”
This was the first study to examine the connection between flavonoid consumption and the development of Parkinson’s disease. The findings suggest that a sub-class of flavonoids called anthocyanins may exhibit neuroprotective effects. Participants consuming one or more portions of berry fruits each week were around twenty-five per cent less likely to develop Parkinson's disease, relative to those who did not eat berry fruits.
Eat One to Three Servings of Berries Daily to Lower Parkinson’s Disease Risk
Flavonoids are the bioactive, naturally occurring chemical compounds found in many plant-based foods and drinks. This study demonstrated the main protective effect was from the consumption of anthocyanins which are present in berries and other fruits and vegetables including aubergines, blackcurrants and blackberries. Strawberries and blueberries are the two most common sources of flavonoids in the US diet, contributing to a twenty-four percent lowered risk in this research.
Parkinson’s disease is among a group of chronic diseases presently affecting one in 500 people, with new cases on the rise. Drug therapies are ineffective and bear significant side effects. The result of this study provides yet another example of the power of a natural diet in the prevention of many debilitating and deadly conditions. Nutrition experts recommend adding a minimum of three to five servings of flavonoids to your diet each week. Include all varieties of berries, apples and green tea to guard against Parkinson’s disease and other neurodegenerative illnesses.