A High-Antioxidant Meal Plan for People With Parkinson's
Although the cause of Parkinson’s disease (PD) is unknown, there is increasing evidence that oxidative stress and neuroinflammation may play an essential role in its development.3
A diet high in antioxidants that cross the blood-brain barrier may potentially act to reduce free radical damage, lowering oxidative stress and decreasing neuro-inflammation in Parkinson’s disease.1
Benefits of antioxidants
Whether you are newly diagnosed or have had Parkinson’s for a while, eating a diet high in antioxidants is great for your health. Bonus – foods high in antioxidants typically provide fiber, which also has anti-inflammatory properties and protects your heart, gut health, and neurons (the working units of your brain).
I have picked out some of the highest-antioxidant food sources and included them in this sample day of meals. It is packed with plant-forward choices, as research shows a Mediterranean-type diet is preferred for Parkinson's and can help protect against chronic oxidative-stress-related disease.2
Take the stress out of mealtime with these sample day meals for Parkinson's. These are specifically tailored to help increase specific antioxidants in your diet: resveratrol, quercetin, vitamin E, beta-carotene, lycopene, ginger, and curcumin. These choices also help boost fiber and other powerful neuro-protective phytonutrients.3
Oatmeal and fruit
- ½ cup dry oats (fiber), cooked in 1 cup water or plant-based milk
- ½ cup raspberries (quercetin)
- ½ cup mango (soluble fiber)
- 1 oz unsalted shelled peanuts (resveratrol, vitamin E)
Fit Tip: This breakfast is the perfect morning energizer to help channel your inner strength to move more! Pick your physical activity for the day – boost your mood, help relieve motor symptoms, stimulate bowel movements, improve sleep habits, and more!
Veggies and guacamole
- ½ red bell pepper (lycopene)
- ½ cup baby carrots (beta-carotene)
- ¼ cup guacamole (vitamin E)
Foodie Tip: Rather than relying on your avocado's "mushiness" to determine its ripeness, utilize the stem! Remove the stem cap and see what color it yields underneath. If it is green, it is ready to eat. If it is brown, pass it down.
Veggie power bowl
- ½ cup roasted sweet potato (beta-carotene)
- 1 cup sauteed kale (beta-carotene)
- ¾ cup firm tofu (powerful phytonutrients)
- ½ cup brown rice, cooked (fiber)
- 2 chopped dried dates (fiber)
- 1 tbs pine nuts (flavor enhancer)
Fit Tip: Did you know that tofu is high in leucine, an amino acid necessary to trigger muscle protein synthesis? Leucine also makes other amino acids more available to help maintain muscle mass. It is optimal to get about 1-3 grams of leucine per meal to maximize muscle recovery for younger adults, but 3-4 grams for older adults.4
The amount of tofu contained in this dish amounts to 1.49 grams of leucine. Talk about a mighty meal! If you are taking levodopa, consult with your doctor or dietitian about protein restrictions required.
Fruit and nut butter
- 1 small apple (quercetin)
- 2 tbsp nut butter (vitamin E)
- 100% whole-grain crackers – choose those without added sugar (insoluble fiber)
Health Tip: Fiber-filled snacks such as fresh or dried fruit are great go-to options to help you go-go. They are high in soluble fiber, which also helps stabilize blood sugar levels, lower cholesterol, increase healthy gut bacteria, and improve satiety between meals. Whole grains have insoluble fiber, which helps increases transit time through the intestines and therefore provides a laxative effect. This can help alleviate constipation.
Grilled chicken and vegetable slaw
- 3 oz grilled chicken
- ½ cup shaved carrots (beta-carotene)
- ½ cup shaved broccoli (beta-carotene)
- 1 oz crushed walnuts (vitamin E + omega-3’s)
- 2 tbs cilantro (phytonutrients)
- 2 tbs olive oil (phytonutrients)
- 1 tbs apple cider vinegar
- ½ cup quinoa, cooked (soluble fiber)
- Salt/pepper + your favorite herbs (phytonutrients)
Health Tip: You can make shaved broccoli (broccoli slaw mix) into a tasty side dish. Combine with a mixture of 4 tbs of Greek yogurt, with 1-2 tbs of light mayonnaise, 1 tbs of Dijon mustard, 2 tsp vinegar, 1-2 tsp honey, a dash of cumin and chili seasoning, and a squeeze of lime.
Do you live with any sleep disorders (eg. insomnia, RLS, sleep apnea) in addition to PD?