Go for Whole Grains to Protect Against Parkinson’s Disease

When my clients get tired of brown rice and pasta, they often ask for meal ideas with whole grains. My response is, there are so many energy-promoting and tasty whole grains to be discovered! Besides being good for cardiovascular health, whole grains also contain nutrients that can help slow down cognitive decline while minimizing symptoms associated with Parkinson’s disease.

In case you missed it, Flour Power Your Way to Parkinson’s Disease Protection highlights some must-try options. But, with so many nutritious choices, why stop there? There are lots of ways to include whole grains as part of your healthy lifestyle.

Whole grains and Parkinson’s disease

Whole grains contain all 3 of their original parts: the bran, germ, and endosperm. These mighty kernels are abundant in vitamin E – an antioxidant that helps protect against Parkinson’s disease by neutralizing free radicals associated with cognitive decline. Not to mention, these nutrients have anti-inflammatory properties to help slow down the degeneration of dopaminergic neurons. Talk about a brain-boosting food!1,2

Whole grains are also abundant in fiber, which helps improve bowel regularity, microbiome diversity, immune function, and overall health. Diets high in fiber can also help alleviate symptoms of constipation associated with Parkinson’s disease and its related medications. To get started with whole grains, check out these options!3

Amaranth

Amaranth is small but mighty! It is known for its uniquely crunchy texture and earthy yet herbal taste. Naturally gluten-free, this whole grain can be used as hot cereal, a cornbread substitution, or for allergen-friendly baking.

This whole grain is a 2-for-1 food, serving as both carbohydrate and plant-based protein source. It’s considered a complete protein since it contains all the essential amino acids – even lysine and methionine, which aren’t found in most grains. Finally, amaranth is also high in fiber and rich in calcium, iron, phosphorus, B vitamins, and vitamin E, making it a healthy choice that also promotes Parkinson’s disease protection.4

Buckwheat

This whole grain often gets transformed into irresistible noodles used in your favorite Asian-inspired dishes. Its flavonoid content helps decrease the risk of disease by improving inflammation and cholesterol levels.5

Despite its name, buckwheat is also wheat-free, making it yet another gluten-free option. Specifically, buckwheat contains prebiotics, which are non-digestible carbohydrates that get fermented in the gastrointestinal tract to produce healthful short-chain fatty acids. Prebiotics can help lower the risk of certain types of cancer, enhance nutrient absorption, and improve overall gut health.

Oats

The most versatile whole grain! Most adored for their naturally sweet flavor, oats often get used for breakfast cereal, bread, cookies, and other baked goods. They are also an easy way to add wholesome nutrition to classic breakfast favorites such as pancakes or waffles.

They are abundant in soluble and insoluble fiber, helping to improve digestive regularity and cholesterol levels. They are also rich in antioxidants that help protect against oxidative damage that may contribute to cognitive decline.6

While oats are naturally allergen-friendly, be careful if you follow a gluten-free lifestyle. They may get contaminated in manufacturing facilities that also process wheat, rye, or barely. So, be sure to check the label!

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