A new study shows that people with Parkinson’s disease who eat a diet that includes three or more servings per week of foods high in flavonoids, like tea, apples, berries and red wine, may have a lower chance of dying during the study period than people who do not eat as many flavonoids. The research is published in the January 26, 2022, online issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology. The study looked at several types of flavonoids and found that higher consumption of flavan-3-ols and anthocyanins, both before and after a Parkinson’s diagnosis, was associated with lower risk of death during the study period.
Flavonoids are naturally occurring compounds found in plants and are considered powerful antioxidants. Previous research has shown that flavonoids may have a protective effect on the brain.
“Our results are exciting because they suggest that people with Parkinson's in our study who did something as simple as including three or more servings per week of common foods like red berries, apples and orange juice may have improved chances of living longer,” said study author Xiang Gao, MD, PhD, of The Pennsylvania State University in University Park.
The study looked at 1,251 people with Parkinson’s with an average age of about 72. Researchers used a food frequency questionnaire to determine people’s flavonoid intake before and after their diagnosis, for an average of 33 years. Every four years, people were surveyed about how often they ate various foods, including tea, apples, berries, oranges and orange juice. Their intake of different types of flavonoids was calculated by multiplying the flavonoid content of each food by its frequency.
The study does not prove that people with Parkinson’s who eat a diet rich in flavonoids will have a better survival rate. It shows an association.
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