3 Nuts to Go Nuts Over for Parkinson's Disease Protection
Last updated: December 2022
Embrace your inner health nut! This under-appreciated plant-based food is abundant in wholesome goodness for better health and Parkinson's disease protection. Check out the dietitian-recommended nuts my clients enjoy that are worth going nuts over!
Have you ever noticed the shape of a walnut? It looks just like a brain! So, it's no wonder these mighty nuts are rich in brain-boosting nutrients such as omega-3 fatty acids. In fact, walnuts are among the top alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) containing plant-based foods. One ounce of walnuts has 2.57g – well above the recommended daily intake of 1.32g for females and 1.55g for males.1
These nuts help provide a nutritional approach to help slow the progression of neurodegenerative disease and cognitive decline often experienced in Parkinson's. Omega-3s also help manage inflammation, improve membrane fluidity, promote cell signaling, and enable gene expression.2
Walnuts are also rich in the nutrient magnesium. Long-term magnesium deficiency may worsen cognitive function. Research shows that low magnesium levels may damage critical cell components, DNA structure, and dopaminergic neurons. Magnesium's role in muscle contraction and relaxation also helps improve bowel regularity. This can be a common struggle among people with Parkinson's disease. So, help improve your health from head to toe with a daily serving of walnuts!3
These mighty nuts are highest in vitamin E – an antioxidant that helps neutralize free radicals and decrease oxidative stress associated with cognitive decline. For example, one study found that increased Vitamin E intake from food or supplements helped slow cognitive decline among elderly individuals.
Vitamin E also plays an essential role in gene regulation, heart health, immunity, and cell signaling. This nutrient's importance is truly nuts! To help reach your Vitamin E needs, consume one ounce of dry roasted nuts, which provides 45 percent of the recommended daily intake for adult men and women.4
In addition to their brain-boosting benefits, almonds also contain 3.3g of fiber per ounce. This is the highest of any nut! Diets high in fiber help improve digestive health and bowel regularity. Increased fiber intake also helps diversify the microbiome, positively impacting immune function. Research shows that people with Parkinson's disease often get depleted of certain gut bacteria that may contribute to increased gastroparesis or constipation. So, help improve symptom management, disease progression, and your overall health with a daily serving of almonds.5,6
Fun fact: Peanuts are technically legumes! Nonetheless, their nutrient-density and brain-protective properties earn a nut-worthy reputation. Research has shown that regular peanut consumption can improve memory and decrease stress among young adults. Peanuts are also high in tyrosine – an amino acid necessary for dopamine production.7
Since high protein intake may interfere with levodopa absorption, it's essential to consider nutrient timing. After all, it's all about getting the best of both worlds! However, not everyone necessarily experiences this competitive interference between levodopa and protein intake. So, if you are concerned about how your nutrient intake affects your medications, I encourage you to talk to a registered dietitian and your doctor.8
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