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Eating berries can reduce the risk of Parkinson's disease in men

New Delhi, Thu, 05 Apr 2012 NI Wire

A recent study has suggested that, consumption of strawberries, blueberries, blackcurrants and blackberries can reduce the risk of developing Parkinson's disease in men to a great extent.

In a study by British and U.S. experts, men who consume fruits along with other foods rich in flavonoids such as, tea, apples and red wine were found to be 40 per cent less likely to develop the Parkinson's disease.

In addition to that, those men who eat berries even once in a week regularly reduce the chance of developing this disease to a quarter in comparison to those who never ate them.

Consumption of same flavonoids on regular basis can have good effect on human heath, suggested the findings by Harvard University and the University of East Anglia (UEA).

In addition to that, the study revealed that these compounds are capable of protecting us against several health conditions including heart disease, hypertension, some cancers and dementia.

This latest study is the first of its kind in humans that shows flavonoids are capable of protecting the neurons against diseases of the brain such as Parkinson's.

The research was conducted in around 130,000 men and women out of whom 800 had developed Parkinson's disease within 20 years of follow-up.

After a detailed observation and analysis of their diets and adjustment as per their age and lifestyle, it was found that, male participants who consume most flavonoids were shown to be 40 per cent less likely to develop the disease than those who consumed the least. However, no such link was found for total flavonoid intake in case of women.

The research was headed by Dr Xiang Gao of Harvard School of Public Health in collaboration with Prof Aedin Cassidy of the Department of Nutrition, Norwich Medical School at UEA.

"These exciting findings provide further confirmation that regular consumption of flavonoids can have potential health benefits," said Prof Cassidy.

"This is the first study in humans to look at the associations between the range of flavonoids in the diet and the risk of developing Parkinson's disease and our findings suggest that a sub-class of flavonoids called anthocyanins may have neuroprotective effects," he stated.

"Interestingly, anthocyanins and berry fruits, which are rich in anthocyanins, seem to be associated with a lower risk of Parkinson's disease in pooled analyses", said Prof Gao

"Participants who consumed one or more portions of berry fruits each week were around 25 per cent less likely to develop Parkinson's disease, relative to those who did not eat berry fruits. Given the other potential health effects of berry fruits, such as lowering risk of hypertension as reported in our previous studies, it is good to regularly add these fruits to your diet," he added.

Flavonoids are a group of naturally occurring, bioactive compounds that are found in various plant-based foods and drinks. In this study the main protective effect was observed from the higher intake of anthocyanins that are prominently present in berries and other fruits and vegetables such as aubergines, blackcurrants and blackberries.

Those who consumed the most amounts of anthocyanins reduced the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease by 24 per cent and strawberries and blueberries are the top two sources of anthocyanins in the US diet.

The details of the findings have been published in the journal Neurology.

-With inputs from ANI

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