AAN: Consuming Anthocyanins Tied to Lower Parkinson's Risk

Men may further lower their risk by consuming foods rich in other flavonoid subclasses

MONDAY, Feb. 14 (HealthDay News) -- Men and women who regularly consume anthocyanins, a subclass of flavonoids mainly obtained from berries, appear to have a lower risk of developing Parkinson's disease, while men who also consume foods rich in other subclasses of flavonoids may further lower their risk of developing the disease, according to research released Feb. 13 to be presented at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Neurology, held from April 9 to 16 in Honolulu.

Xiang Gao, M.D., Ph.D., of the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, and colleagues evaluated 49,627 men in the Health Professional Follow-up Study and 80,171 women from the Nurses' Health Study to assess whether higher intakes of total flavonoids and their subclasses (flavanones, anthocyanins, flavan-3-ols, flavonols, flavones, and polymers) are associated with a lower risk of developing Parkinson's disease.

During 20 to 22 years of follow-up, among men, the top 20 percent who ate the most flavonoids were approximately 40 percent less likely to develop Parkinson's disease compared to the bottom 20 percent of men who consumed the least amount of flavonoids. Among women, the investigators found no association between overall flavonoid consumption and developing Parkinson's disease. However, regular consumption of anthocyanins was associated with a lower risk of Parkinson's disease among both men and women.

"This is the first study in humans to examine the association between flavonoids and risk of developing Parkinson's disease," Gao said in a statement. "Our findings suggest that flavonoids, specifically a group called anthocyanins, may have neuroprotective effects. If confirmed, flavonoids may be a natural and healthy way to reduce your risk of developing Parkinson's disease."

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