New evidence suggests that eating as little as two servings of blueberries, raspberries, strawberries or apples per month can lower the risk of Parkinson’s disease by 25 percent compared with eating these fruits less than once a month. The recent report also found that men whose diets were rich in flavonoids, the protective compounds found in berries tea and red wine, were 40 percent less likely to develop Parkinson’s than those whose diets were low in foods that provide these natural anti-oxidants. Surprisingly, the researchers found no such reduced risk among women. The health and dietary habits of more than 130,000 men and women were followed in the 20-year study. Over this period, 800 of the participants developed Parkinson’s. The study showed an association between reduced health risks and consumption of berries and other foods rich in flavonoids, but it doesn’t prove that flavonoid rich diets were responsible for the benefits seen. The researchers noted that their findings suggest that anthocyanins, powerful anti-oxidant pigments that give berries their rich red and blue colors, have a neuro-protective effect. The study was published online April 4, 2012 in Neurology.
My take? Although the findings of this study must be confirmed by further research, this is very good news. All berries have natural anti-inflammatory effects and are among the most healthful foods one can eat. Earlier studies have shown that black raspberries reduce the incidence of certain cancers in animals by as much as 50 percent. Blueberries may improve motor skills and reverse age-related short-term memory loss, and may also help protect the brain from stroke damage. I love the tastes of all kinds of berries. Including them in your diet should be no hardship and could have a very big pay-off.