Berries May Lower Risk of Parkinson's Disease
Men and women who routinely eat berries may lower their risk of developing Parkinson's disease. Men may lower their risk further by eating other flavonoid-packed foods like oranges and apples.
In addition to berries, flavonoids, also known as vitamin P and citrin, can be found in grapefruit and other citrus fruits, as well as in chocolate.
A recently-released study, supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology's 63rd Annual Meeting in Honolulu April, 2011.
During the study researchers gave questionnaires to 49,281 men and 80,336 women. They then used a database to calculate and analyze their flavonoid intake from five major sources of flavonoid-rich food – berries, apples, oranges, orange juice, tea, and red wine.
After tracking the participants for 20 to 22 years, 805 were found to have been diagnosed with Parkinson's disease. In men, the top 20 percent who consumed the most flavonoids were approximately 40% less likely to develop Parkinson's disease than the bottom 20 % of male participants who consumed the least amount of flavonoids.
No link was found between overall flavonoid consumption and the development of Parkinson's disease in women, but when anthocyanins, mostly from berries, were identified independently of overall flavonoid consumption, the risk of Parkinson's was lower 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, MD, PhD, with the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston. "Our findings suggest that flavonoids, specifically a group called anthocyanins, may have neuroprotective effects. If confirmed, flavonoids may be a natural and healthy way to reduce your risk of developing Parkinson's disease."
About Parkinson's Disease
Parkinson’s disease is a progressive neurological disorder that occurs when the neurons that produce dopamine, in an area of the brain called the substantia nigra, die or deteriorate. This results in abnormal movements, including tremors, rigidity, shuffling, slow gait and loss of balance. Other symptoms include muffled speech, frozen facial expressions, sleep disorders and depression.
Parkinson’s most often affects people over 60 but can occur in younger adults. Men are affected 50% more frequently than women.
SOURCE: American Academy of Neurology (2011, February 17).
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