New research shows that men and women who regularly eat berries are at lower risk of developing Parkinson’s disease, while men can further reduce their risk by eating regular apples, oranges and other good sources of dietary components called flavonoids. The study was published today and will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology for the 63rd annual meeting in Honolulu April 9 to 16, 2011.
Flavonoids are present in plants and fruits and are also known as vitamin P and Citrine. They can also be found in berries, chocolate and citrus fruits such as grapefruit.
The study involved 49,281 men and 80,336 women. The researchers gave questionnaires to participants and used a database to calculate the ‘intake of flavonoids. They then analyzed the association between intake of flavonoids and risk of developing Parkinson’s disease. They also analyzed the consumption of five major food sources rich in flavonoids, tea, berries, apples, red wine and oranges or orange juice. Participants were followed for a period ranging from 20 to 22 years.
During this period, 805 people developed Parkinson’s disease. In men, ’20 percent of those who consumed the most flavonoids were about 40 percent less likely to develop Parkinson’s disease and 20 percent of male participants who consumed the least amount of flavonoids. In women, there was no relationship between the consumption of total flavonoids and the development of Parkinson’s disease. However, when they were considered sub-classes of flavonoids, anthocyanins, which are mainly contained in the berries, were associated with a lower risk of Parkinson’s disease in both men and women.
“This is the first study in humans to examine the association between flavonoids and risk of developing Parkinson’s disease,” said study author Xiang Gao at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston. “Our results suggest that flavonoids, in particular a group called anthocyanins, may have neuroprotective effects. If confirmed, the flavonoids may be a natural and healthy way to reduce the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease. “