Hands Baking a Cake, cupcake, sugar, strawberries, dessert

How to Bake for Better Parkinson's Disease Protection

Last updated: August 2022

Baked goods get a bad rap and are often branded as "empty calories." So when clients ask, "How can I bake and make it healthier?" I share there are plenty of ways to transform your traditional favorites into brain-boosting treats.

There is no need to sacrifice your tastebuds in your journey toward healthy Parkinson's disease protection. Instead, use these tasty substitutions to make the most of your sweet treats.

Whole wheat flour

White flour substitution: Whole wheat flour

Embrace the power of flour! As the base for many baked goods, swapping this staple ingredient for a nutritious alternative is the first step to creating a treat that's healthy for the brain yet tasty for the soul.

A whole grain option helps provide B vitamins such as niacin, thiamine, and folate. These powerful nutrients fuel cognitive function and overall energy levels, which can be a concern among people with Parkinson's disease.1

B vitamins also play a role in nerve function, helping to slow down cognitive dysfunction. Specifically, increased vitamin B levels may help regulate homocysteine levels, which are inversely linked to worsened disease progression and stress. Talk about a power-packed flour!1

Whole grains are also abundant in magnesium, which plays a role in neuronal transmission and neuromuscular function. This must-have mineral helps to improve brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BNDF), helping to protect dopaminergic neurons and slow down Parkinson's disease progression. This mighty nutrient may also help regulate cortisol levels, known as the "stress hormone," to help to improve overall mood.2


Sugar substitute: Honey

Honey is absolutely buzzing with a variety of flavors. But honey still counts toward the recommended limit of no more than 6 teaspoons of sugar daily, so stick to the right portion. Mother Nature provided honey with phytonutrients, making it a go-to sweetener for your homemade goods. Specifically, honey contains flavonoids and phenolic acids – powerful antioxidants that support the nervous, respiratory, and gastrointestinal systems.3

But the oh-so-sweet perks of honey don't stop there. It is also abundant in quercetin. Quercetin is a nutrient that helps minimize inflammatory markers linked to neurodegeneration. Neurons are the working unit of the brain, and protecting them is vital in Parkinson's disease.4

Avocado, Nut, or Seed Oils

Fat substitute: Avocado, nut, or seed oils

Let's get the fat facts straight! There are tons of nutrient-dense fat options that may provide enhanced Parkinson's disease protection. So, kick the butter to the curb! Instead, choices such as avocado, nut, and seed oils are abundant in vitamin E – an antioxidant that helps decrease oxidative stress linked to cognitive decline. This vitamin may also help improve immune function, cell signalizing, blood flow, and gene regulation to help promote overall health.5


Flavor inclusion: Cacao

That's right! Is your body asking for more chocolate? Well, your brain may benefit. While satisfying your sweet tooth, cacao also provides brain-boosting nutrients that help keep your mind sharp.

Like honey, cacao contains quercetin, which has neuroprotective properties and enables cell survival, helping slow cognitive decline. This fan-favorite flavor is also abundant in resveratrol, which helps mitigate oxidative stress and inflammation linked to chronic disease. Resveratrol also helps to prevent cell death, further protecting against degeneration. So, embrace your inner chocoholic and bake with cacao for better brain health!6

Chia and flax seed powder

Nutrient inclusion: Chia/flax seed powder

These mighty seeds help the body from head to toe! For starters, they are abundant in vitamin E, which provides antioxidant capabilities and brain-protective properties. But their high-fiber content also helps diversify the microbiome, contributing to improved immune function, gastrointestinal function, bowel regularity, and cardiovascular health.7

Adding flax or chia seeds to your favorite baked goods increases soluble fiber intake, which contains a laxative effect, helping to alleviate chronic constipation.7

Since many people with Parkinson's disease struggle with bowel regularity, these nutrient-dense seeds are an easy way to give your gut smooth moves while satisfying your tastebuds. Embrace these fibrous seeds to help slow energy release and keep you full between meals for sustained energy throughout the day.

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The ParkinsonsDisease.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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