According to study Xiang Gao, of the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, berries can increase dopamine levels, which affect brain processes that control movement, emotional response and the ability to experience pleasure and pain.
Berries and Parkinson’s
The research evaluated 80,336 women and 49,281 men, who were asked to fill out questionnaires on what types of foods they ate. Scientists then used a database to calculate the amount of flavonoids eaten by each volunteer.
The scientists then analyzed the association between flavonoid consumption and the risk of Parkinson's disease. After this process, participants were monitored for 20 to 22 years.
A little more than 800 of the people monitored during the study developed Parkinson's disease. Men who ate more foods containing flavonoids, such as berries, apples and oranges, were 40% less likely to develop Parkinson's disease.
In women, there was no relationship between eating general flavonoids, like those found in apples and oranges, and the development of Parkinson's disease. But when scientists evaluated sub-classes of flavonoids, such as anthocyanins, which are found in berries, the scientists found that these flavonoids (anthocyanins) protected both men and women against Parkinson's disease.
Why the Differences in Parkinson’s Risk between Gender?
"We don't have a clear answer for this gender difference at this time," says Gao, adding that if the current research is confirmed, more studies will be needed to explore underlying mechanisms between flavonoids, Parkinson's disease risk and gender.
In the meantime, Gao recommends a healthy diet. "a diet high in fruits and vegetables could be protective against Parkinson's disease risk," says Gao
The study results will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology's 63rd Annual Meeting in Honolulu April 9-16.