Fuel for the Berry Best Protection Against Parkinson's Disease
Berries have been getting great press for their memory benefits for years. Then after the MIND diet arrived around 2015, berries won the all-star title of superfoods!1
Blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, mulberries, goldenberries, strawberries, elderberries, and goji berries are just several of these brain-protecting delights that add flavor and powerful antioxidants to a diet for Parkinson's disease (PD).2
After learning more about these antioxidant superfoods, you'll have a whole new respect for your elder-berries.
Impact on brain health
Berries provide a bounty of benefits. They're high in bioactive ingredients like plant-based compounds called anthocyanins, a type of flavonoid high in antioxidants.
Anthocyanins offer cognitive protection. One study found that people with a low intake of flavonoid-rich foods have a higher incidence of Alzheimer's.5 A recent study with men showed berry fruits seemed to be associated with a lower risk of Parkinson's disease.6
Although we can't say with certainty eating a diet rich in flavonoids can slow PD progression, given that these foods lower the risk of developing PD, there may be a protective effect. Also, berries may help clear toxic accumulation in the brain.7
Other benefits of anthocyanins
If those benefits were not enough, berries' anthocyanins help protect against cardiovascular disease, cancer, decrease insulin resistance, help improve vision, and contain antimicrobial properties.3
Anthocyanins are found in many foods typical of a Mediterranean or DASH diet, often recommended for PD. We also know that these diets help protect against genetic susceptibilities and environmental factors that play a role in neurodegenerative diseases.4
Lastly, just one cup of blueberries has 4 grams of fiber, and raspberries have 8 grams.8 So, berries also help contribute towards regularity.
Eating berries for Parkinson's
I aim for one cup of fresh or frozen berries a day and recommend the same to my clients with PD. So, show your brain, you love it berry much and indulge in these berry-full tasty ideas often!
- Use frozen berries for oatmeal, yogurt parfait, and chia seed pudding. It's best to gently reheat or defrost the night before in the fridge to maximize antioxidant reserves.
- Toss fresh berries into cold low-sugar whole-grain cereals.
- Blend defrosted blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries with maple syrup to top whole-grain waffles or pancakes, top with more berries and walnuts.
- Add to a salad full of herbs for an additional antioxidant boost.
- Make a strawberry or blueberry salsa to serve on top of grilled fish.
- Add dried berries to whole grain trail mix, granola, or grain dishes.
- Try berries as gazpacho with fresh mint.
- Enjoy them wrapped in a whole grain tortilla with low-fat cream cheese.
- Serve a berry assortment as a mealtime side or dessert.
- Transform your favorite berries that are a little less than firm and pristine into a compote or jam.
- Add to fruit juice, smoothies, or homemade popsicles
- Blend frozen berries into ice cream or sorbet. Don't forget to include them as toppings as well!
- Bake them into traditional desserts like scones or breakfast bars
- Blend into plant-based cashew-based cheese cakes. Yum!
- Bake berries into muffins or cobblers
While anthocyanins continued to be researched, the word is out that consuming a wide variety of antioxidant-rich foods is beneficial for your brain.
Prioritizing a plant-forward diet may be an effective strategy to protect your cognition with Parkinson's disease. To get started, see A Phytonutrient Rich Sample Meal Plan for Parkinson's.
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