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[BERRY GOOD] Flavonoids may boost survival in Parkinson’s disease

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 prematurely than those who do not eat as many flavonoids. That's according to a study published January 26 in 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.

The study involved 1,251 people with Parkinson’s with an average age of about 72. The researchers used a food frequency questionnaire to determine participant’ flavonoid intake before and after their diagnosis, for an average of 33 years. Every four years, participants were surveyed about how often they ate various foods, and their intake of different types of flavonoids was calculated by multiplying the flavonoid content of each food by its frequency.

By the end of the study, 944, or 75%, of the participants had died. Of those, 513 died from Parkinson’s, 112 died from cardiovascular diseases and 69 died from various cancers.

The people in the group that represented the highest 25% of flavonoid consumers, on average, had about 673 milligrams (mg) in their diets each day, compared to the people in the lowest 25%, who had about 134 mg. Strawberries, for example, have about 180 mg of flavonoids per 100 gram serving, while apples have about 113.

After adjusting for factors like age and total calories, the group of highest flavonoid consumers had a 70% greater chance of survival compared to people in the lowest group.

The study does not prove that people with Parkinson’s who eat a diet rich in flavonoids will have a better survival rate, the authors caution. More research is needed to understand the association between dietary flavonoids and better survival. Meanwhile, the authors suggest, adding a few servings of berries, apples, oranges and tea to their weekly diets may be an easy and low-risk way to possibly improve outcomes.

To read the abstract of the study, “Intake of flavonoids and flavonoid-rich foods, and mortality risk among individuals with Parkinson Disease,” click here


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