Positive effect of a flavonoid-rich diet seen in people with Parkinson's

Researchers, including scientists from Queen's University Belfast, have discovered that people with Parkinson's who eat more flavonoids may have a longer life expectancy.

What are flavonoids?

Flavonoids are compounds found naturally in many fruits and vegetables. They may help our bodies because of their anti-inflammatory and toxin fighting properties. 

High levels of flavonoids are often found in richly coloured foods like berries, cocoa and red wine.

What did the researchers do?

The international team of researchers followed more than 1,200 people who had recently been diagnosed with Parkinson's over a period of up to 34 years. 

Participants were asked how often they consumed certain flavonoid-rich foods, including tea, apples, berries, oranges and orange juice, and red wine to establish the concentration of flavonoids in their diet.

What did they find?

The study found that the highest flavonoid consumers had a 70 percent greater chance of surviving until the end of the follow up than people consuming the lowest amounts of flavonoids. The study was published in the science journal Neurology.

Professor Aedín Cassidy, co-author from the Institute for Global Food Security (IGFS) at Queen's University Belfast, said:

"This large study has shown how simple dietary change has the potential to improve life expectancy in people living with Parkinson's.

"These findings are exciting as just a few portions a week of berries or a few glasses of red wine a week may improve survival rates."

Dr Beckie Port, Research Communications Manager at Parkinson's UK, comments:

"This study is likely to be welcomed by people with Parkinson's who are looking for ways to live better for longer. 

"We know that Parkinson's can increase the risk of health complications that impact on life expectancy. A balanced diet with everything in moderation has an important role in keeping us fit and healthy.

"While this study doesn't prove that flavonoids increase survival and life expectancy, it does add to a growing picture of how fruit and vegetables can have protective effects on the brain."

Diet and Parkinson's

Eating a well-balanced diet will give you a good amount of vitamins and minerals, and can help to ease certain symptoms of Parkinson's.