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Tea Helps Reduce Parkinson’s Risk?

Flavonoids in tea and other foods may help with Parkinsons
Flavonoids in tea and other foods may help with Parkinsons

Parkinson’s disease is the second most common neurodegenerative disorder after Alzheimer’s disease. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the condition is “a chronic, progressive movement disorder that affects the lives of at least one half million patients across the United States.” The NIH also notes that “currently available pharmacological and surgical treatments provide relief from some motor symptoms, but do not halt the ultimate progression of the disease.”

But there’s some good news for tea drinkers (among others) who might be at risk for Parkinson’s disease. According to a recent study, the flavonoids in tea (as well as orange juice, apples, berries – such as strawberries and blueberries – and in red wine) can lower the risk of developing Parkinson’s by about 40 percent, with the benefits being significantly more pronounced for men than women.

Other good sources of flavonoids, aside from those five food types examined in the study, include most citrus fruits, onions, parsley and dark chocolate. In tea, flavonoid content tends to be much higher in the more lightly processed types such as green, white and yellow. For some useful background on the flavonoids and other assorted and sundry beneficial compounds in tea, start with this overview. For a more in-depth look at the antioxidant activities of flavonoids, refer to this article from the Linus Pauling Institute

Cadbury Bournville Bar - all rich dark chocolate - healthy never tasted so good!
Cadbury Bournville Bar – all rich dark chocolate – healthy never tasted so good!

The Parkinson’s study was conducted by researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health and results were recently published in in the journal Neurology. The researchers reviewed nutrition and health data from about 50,000 men from a project called the Health Professional Follow-Up Study and more than 80,000 women who took part in the Nurses’ Health Study.

Researchers said that flavonoids can help to guard cells from oxidative damage and also have anti-inflammatory effects, which may contribute to their effectiveness in guarding against Parkinson’s. Lead researcher, Dr. Xiang Gao, said it was not immediately clear why men should benefit so much more from flavonoid intake than women.

For an abstract of the study and access to the full results ($$), look here.

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