WEDNESDAY, April 4 (HealthDay News) -- Regularly consumption of food and drink rich in substances called flavonoids, such as berries, apples, tea and red wine, can lower a man's risk of developing Parkinson's disease by 40 percent, new research suggests.
For women, however, a reduction in risk was only seen when they ate at least several servings of berries a week, according to the study. Men also had a risk reduction from frequently eating berries.
"For total flavonoids, the beneficial result was only in men. But, berries are protective in both men and women," said the study's lead author, Dr. Xiang Gao, a research scientist at the Harvard School of Public Health and an associate epidemiologist at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston.
"Berries could be a neuroprotective agent. People can include berries in their regular diet. There are no harmful effects from berry consumption, and they lower the risk of hypertension too," Gao added.
Results of the study are published online April 4 in the journal Neurology.
Parkinson's disease is a degenerative condition that affects the central nervous system. It causes movement disorders, such as tremors, rigidity and balance problems. About 500,000 Americans have Parkinson's disease, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.
Flavonoids are substances found in plant foods that help prevent damage to the body's cells, known as oxidative damage. Anthocyanins are a type of flavonoid plentiful in such berries as strawberries and blueberries.
For the study, the researchers reviewed nutrition and health data from almost 50,000 men enrolled in the Health Professional Follow-Up Study and more than 80,000 women participating in the Nurses' Health Study.
The researchers looked at dietary intake of five major flavonoid sources: tea, berries, apples
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