Men who eat flavonoid-rich foods such as berries, tea, apples and red wine significantly reduce their risk of developing Parkinson's disease, according to new research by Harvard University and the University of East Anglia.
Parkinson's disease is a progressive neurological condition affecting one in 500 people.
These findings, published this week in the journal Neurology, add to the growing body of evidence that regular consumption of certain flavonoids can have significant health benefits. Recent studies have shown that these compounds can help reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, hypertension, some cancers and dementia.
This latest study is the first study in humans to show that flavonoids can protect neurons against diseases of the brain such as Parkinson's.
Around 130,000 men and women took part in the research. More than 800 had developed Parkinson's disease within 20 years of follow-up. After a detailed analysis of their diets and adjusting for age and lifestyle, men who ate the most flavonoids were shown to be 40 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.
The researchers said "This is the first study in humans to look at the associations between the range of flavonoids in the diet and the risk of developing Parkinson's disease and our findings suggest that a sub-class of flavonoids called anthocyanins may have neuroprotective effects."
Anthocyanins and berries, which are rich in anthocyanins, were associated with a lower risk of Parkinson's disease in a previous report that combined the results of a number of studies. Participants who consumed one or more servings of berries each week - versus none - were around 25 per cent less likely to develop Parkinson's disease.
Flavonoids are a group of naturally occurring, bioactive compounds found in many plant-based foods and beverages. In this study the main protective effect was from higher intake of anthocyanins, which are plentiful in berries and other fruits and vegetables including aubergines, blackcurrants and blackberries.
In this study, those who consumed the most anthocyanins had a 24 per cent reduction in risk of developing Parkinson's disease and strawberries and blueberries were the top two sources in the US diet.
All research on this web site is the property of Leslie Beck Nutrition Consulting Inc. and is protected by copyright. Keep in mind that research on these matters continues daily and is subject to change. The information presented is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. It is intended to provide ongoing support of your healthy lifestyle practices.