Berries lowering high blood pressure and enabling the aging brain to stay healthy appear beneficial for averting Parkinson’s disease as well. In a major breakthrough, investigators assert that men and women eating berries everyday have very low chances of developing Parkinson’s disease. This risk may be further decreased by daily consumption of apples, oranges and other sources rich in dietary components called flavonoids.

As a part of the study, 49,281 men and 80,336 women were made to fill in questionnaires. Scientists used a database to calculate intake amount of flavonoids. Then the probable link between flavonoid intakes and risk of developing Parkinson’s disease was thoroughly examined. Consumption of five major sources of foods rich in flavonoids tea, berries, apples, red wine and oranges or orange juice was also noted. The study initiated a follow-up for 20 to 22 years.

“This is the first study in humans to examine the association between flavonoids and risk of developing Parkinson’s disease,” shared study author Xiang Gao, MD, PhD, with the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston. “Our findings suggest that flavonoids, specifically a group called anthocyanins, may have neuroprotective effects. If confirmed, flavonoids may be a natural and healthy way to reduce your risk of developing Parkinson’s disease.”

On completion of the investigation, 805 volunteers were diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. Among men, the top 20 percent eating the most flavonoids apparently were almost 40 percent less likely to develop Parkinson’s disease than the bottom 20 percent of male participants who consumed the least amount of flavonoids. No relationship between overall flavonoid consumption and developing Parkinson’s disease appeared in women. On scrutinizing sub-classes of flavonoids, daily intake of anthocyanins, mainly obtained from berries was possibly associated with a lower risk of Parkinson’s disease in both men and women.

The study will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology’s 63rd Annual Meeting in Honolulu April 9 to April 16, 2011.