Ginger Compounds May Be Effective in Treating Asthma Symptoms

GingerGourmands and foodies everywhere have long recognized ginger as a great way to add a little peppery zing to both sweet and savory dishes; now, a study from researchers at Columbia University shows purified components of the spicy root also may have properties that help asthma patients breathe more easily.

The results of the study was presented at the American Thoracic Society International Conference (May 17 to 22, 2013) in Philadelphia.

Asthma is characterized by bronchoconstriction, a tightening of the bronchial tubes that carry air into and out of the lungs. Bronchodilating medications called beta-agonists (β-agonists) are among the most common types of asthma medications and work by relaxing the airway smooth muscle (ASM) tissues. This study looked at whether specific components of ginger could help enhance the relaxing effects of bronchodilators.

“Asthma has become more prevalent in recent years, but despite an improved understanding of what causes asthma and how it develops, during the past 40 years few new treatment agents have been approved for targeting asthma symptoms,” said lead author Elizabeth Townsend, PhD, post-doctoral research fellow in the Columbia University Department of Anesthesiology. “In our study, we demonstrated that purified components of ginger can work synergistically with β-agonists to relax ASM.”

To conduct their study, the researchers took human ASM tissue samples and caused the samples to contract by exposing them to acetylcholine, a neurotransmitting compound that causes bronchoconstriction. Next, the researchers mixed the β-agonist isoproterenol with three separate components of ginger: 6-gingerol, 8-gingerol or 6-shogaol. Contracted tissue samples were exposed to each of these three mixtures as well as unadulterated isoproterenol and the relaxation responses were recorded and compared.

At the conclusion of their study, the researchers found that tissues treated with the combination of purified ginger components and isoproterenol exhibited significantly greater relaxation than those treated only with isoproterenol; of the three ginger components, 6-shogaol appeared most effective in increasing the relaxing effects of the β-agonist.

Once they were able to demonstrate that the ginger components enhanced the relaxing effects of the β-agonist, they turned their attention to learning why. First, the researchers wanted to determine if the ginger components might work by affecting an enzyme called phosphodiesterase4D (PDE4D). Previous studies have shown that PDE4D, which is found in the lungs, inhibits processes that otherwise help relax ASM and lessen inflammation. Using a technique called fluorescent polarization, they found that all three components significantly inhibited PDE4D.

Next, the study looked at F-actin filaments, a protein structure which previous studies have shown plays a role in the constriction of ASM, and found that 6-shogaol was effective in speedily dissolving these filaments.

“Taken together, these data show that ginger constituents 6-gingerol, 8-gingerol and 6-shogaol act synergistically with the β-agonist in relaxing ASM, indicating that these compounds may provide additional relief of asthma symptoms when used in combination with β-agonists,” Dr. Townsend noted.”By understanding the mechanisms by which these ginger compounds affect the airway, we can explore the use of these therapeutics in alleviating asthma symptoms.”

Dr. Townsend and her colleague, Dr. Charles Emala, hope future studies will enable them to gain a better understanding of the cellular mechanisms that facilitate ASM relaxation and to determine whether aerosol delivery of these purified constituents of ginger may have therapeutic benefit in asthma and other bronchoconstrictive diseases.



Active Constituents of Ginger Potentiate β-Agonist-Induced Relaxation of Airway Smooth Muscle
E.A. Townsend, Y. Zhang, C. Xu, R. Wakita, C. Emala
Columbia University – New York, NY/US

Rationale: Asthma prevalence has steadily increased and is characterized by bronchoconstriction. Bronchodilators are the first-line therapy to reverse airway obstruction by relaxing airway smooth muscle (ASM). Asthma therapies include β-agonists that induce bronchodilation by activating adenylyl cyclase, increasing cAMP and activating protein kinase A. Despite improved understanding of the pathogenesis of asthma, few novel therapeutics have been approved for targeting asthma symptoms in the last 40 years. This highlights the need for new therapies that relax contracted airways while also augmenting traditional therapies. We demonstrated that purified components of ginger can relax ASM. By understanding the mechanisms by which these compounds exert their effects on the airway, we can explore the use of these phytotherapeutics in alleviating asthma symptoms. We hypothesized that unique chemical components of ginger have bronchorelaxant properties and work synergistically with β-agonist signaling to relax ASM.

Methods and Results: Epithelial-denuded human ASM tissue (deidentified; exempt from Columbia’s IRB) was contracted with acetylcholine in organ baths. ASM tissues were then relaxed dose-dependently with β-agonist, isoproterenol (100 pM – 10 μM, half-log increments). The tissues were treated concurrently at 300 pM isoproterenol with vehicle, 6-gingerol, 8-gingerol, or 6-shogaol (100 μM). Significant potentiation of isoproterenol-induced relaxation was observed with each of the ginger constituents. 6-shogaol showed the largest leftward shift in the EC50 for isoproterenol. Purified phosphodiesterase 4D enzyme, the prominent isoform in the lung, was used to assess PDE inhibitory action of the ginger constituents using fluorescent polarization analyses. 6-gingerol, 8-gingerol, and 6-shogaol (100 μM, 15 min) significantly inhibited PDE4D compared to vehicle control (0.2% DMSO), the PDE4-selective inhibitor, rolipram (10 μM) and non-selective PDE inhibitor, IBMX (250 μM) were used as positive controls. β-agonist induced depolymerization of actin via a PKA-HSP20-dependent pathway contributes to ASM relaxation. In primary human ASM cells transiently transfected with RFP-actin, treatment with 6-gingerol, 8-gingerol, or 6-shogaol showed acute (within seconds) dissolution of F-actin filaments. This was not due to PKA phosphorylation of HSP20.

Conclusions: Taken together, these data show synergistic effects of ginger constituents 6-gingerol, 8-gingerol, and 6-shogaol with β-agonist in relaxing ASM. This may be attributed to increased cAMP due to PDE4D inhibitory activity. Additionally, these compounds stimulate actin depolymerization through a novel PKA-independent pathway, providing another pathway for potentiation with β-agonists. These compounds may provide additional relief of asthma symptoms when used in combination with β2-agonists and highlight novel use of phytotherapeutics in the treatment of obstructive lung disease.


Why fish is so good for you

Scientists of Friedrich Schiller University Jena and Jena University Hospital decode the antihypertensive impact of omega-3 fatty acids.

Scientists of Jena University and Jena University Hospital now analyzed the impact of omega-3 fatty acids and described the underlying molecular mechanisms for the first time.

Scientists of Jena University and Jena University Hospital now analyzed the impact of omega-3 fatty acids and described the underlying molecular mechanisms for the first time.

Fish is healthy: easy to digest and with a high level of precious proteins, fish is considered an important part of a healthy diet. And with the so-called omega-3 fatty acids fish contains real ‘fountains of youth’. These fatty acids – like docosahexaeonic acid (DHA) occur mostly in fatty fish like herring, salmon and mackerel. They are thought to lower the blood pressure, to strengthen the immune system and to have positive effects on the development on the nervous system and the cardiovascular system.

“Clinical studies about the intake of nutritional supplements containing omega-3 fatty acids haven’t provided complete clarity so far,” Prof. Dr. Stefan H. Heinemann from Friedrich Schiller University Jena (Germany) says. “The molecular impact of the omega-3 fatty acids isn’t fully understood yet,” the biophysicist continues. But now scientists of the DFG research group FOR 1738 based at Jena University are able to bring new facts to light: in two newly published articles for the well-known science magazine ‘Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA’ they describe how they analyzed the impact of omega-3 fatty acids on a systemic level and they also described the underlying molecular mechanisms for the first time.

The teams around Prof. Heinemann (Jena University), Prof. Dr. Michael Bauer (Jena University Hospital) and Prof. Dr. Toshinori Hoshi (University of Pennsylvania) were able to show that the so-called ‘SLO1′ potassium channel is an important component in the effectiveness of omega-3 fatty acids. “These ionic channels act like very specific receptors for DHA and are opened by the binding of the omega-3 fatty acids,” Biophysicist Heinemann explains. In the case of other omega-3 fatty acids – like the shorter eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) or the alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) extracted from plants – the impact is much weaker.

Prof. Bauer and his colleagues examined the effects of omega-3 fatty acids on SLO1 channels of the cardiovascular system by experimenting with mice. “Administration of DHA should result in an expansion of the blood vessels and consequently a drop in blood pressure,” the physician says. The laboratory experiments confirmed exactly that. In genetically modified mice however, which were not able to produce the SLO1 channel, the antihypertensive impact of DHA failed to appear. “Thus we were able to show for the first time that DHA directly influences the blood pressure, which is being mediated through SLO1 channels,” Bauer summarizes.

Beyond that, the scientists made another surprising discovery: a variant of DHA, which can often be found in nutritional supplements containing omega-3 fatty acids, doesn’t show an antihypertensive effect. Moreover, it suppresses and even diminishes the effect of the natural DHA from fish oil. “The intake of non-natural omega-3 fatty acids can therefore also have counter-productive effects,” Prof. Bauer stresses. This is of particular importance for the nutritional supplements of patients in intensive care who are being drip-fed: their supplements of omega-3 fatty acids should be specifically aimed at and adapted to the patients’ clinical requirements.



Hoshi T, Wissuwa B, Tian T, Tajima N, Xu R, Bauer M, Heinemann SH, Hou S (2013) Omega-3 fatty acids lower blood pressure by directly activating large-conductance Ca2+-dependent K+ channelsProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA (DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1221997110)

Hoshi T, Tian T, Xu R, Heinemann SH, Hou S (2013) Mechanism of the modulation of BK potassium channel complexes with different auxiliary subunit compositions by the omega-3 fatty acid DHAProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA (DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1222003110)


Pomegranate: a heart-healthy fruit

Consuming pomegranate juice regularly improves heart health(NaturalNews) Pomegranate juice is rich in antioxidants such as polyphenols, tannins, and anthocyanins. The health benefits of pomegranate juice have been compared to that of red wine, purple grape juice, and black tea. The only potential downside of fresh pomegranate juice is that it is very high in natural sugar.

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Pomegranates & Cancer

Pomegranate may inhibit metastatic breast cancer(NaturalNews) Pomegranate juice is already known to be active against several cancers, but a new study out of California has just shown for the first time that it potently inhibits three key processes involved in breast cancer metastasis. The researchers were so impressed, they remarked that pomegranate juice is “potentially a very effective treatment to prevent cancer progression in general.”

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Rocha A, Wang L, Penichet M, Martins-Green M. Pomegranate juice and specific components inhibit cell and molecular processes critical for metastasis of breast cancer. Breast Cancer Res Treat 2012, DOI: 10.1007/s10549-012-2264-5

Adhami VM, Khan N, Mukhtar H. Cancer Chemoprevention by Pomegranate: Laboratory and Clinical Evidence. Nutr Cancer. 2009 November; 61(6): 811–815.

Paller CJ, Ye X, Wozniak PJ, Gillespie BK, Sieber PR, Greengold RH, Stockton BR et al. A randomized phase II study of pomegranate extract for men with rising PSA following initial therapy for localized prostate cancer. Prostate Cancer Prostatic Dis 2012 Jun 12. doi: 10.1038/pcan.2012.20.

Jeune MA, Kumi-Diaka J, Brown J. Anticancer activities of pomegranate extracts and genistein in human breast cancer cells. J Med Food 2005; 8 (4): 469-475.

Strawberry Extract Protects Against UVA Rays

The experiment shows that strawberry extract added to skin cell cultures acts as a protector against UVA rays.

An experiment has shown that strawberry extract added to skin cell cultures acts as a protector against ultraviolet radiation as well as increasing its viability and reducing damage to DNA. Developed by a team of Italian and Spanish researchers, the study opens the door to the creation of photoprotective cream made from strawberries.

“We have verified the protecting effect of strawberry extract against damage to skins cells caused by UVA rays,” as explained to SINC by Maurizio Battino, researcher at the Università Politecnica delle Marche in Italy and lead author of the jointly Spanish and Italian study. The results are published in the ‘Journal of Agricultural Food Chemistry‘.

The team prepared human skin cell cultures (fibroblasts) and added strawberry extract in different concentrations (0.05, 0.25 and 0.5 mg/ml), the only exception being the control extract. Using ultraviolet light, the samples were then exposed to a dose “equivalent to 90 minutes of midday summer sun in the French Riviera.”

Data confirm that the strawberry extract, especially at a concentration of 0.5 mg/ml, displays photoprotective properties in those fibroblasts exposed to UVA radiation, it increases cell survival and viability and decreases damage in the DNA when compared with control cells.

“These aspects are of great importance as they provide protection for cell lines subject to conditions that can provoke cancer and other skin-related inflammatory and degenerative illnesses,” outlines Battino.

The researcher recognises that this is the “first step in determining the beneficial effects of strawberries in our diet or as a possible compound source for ‘food integrators’ or cosmetics for instance.”

The redness of anthocyanins

But what molecules give strawberries their photoprotective properties? Scientists suspect that it could be the anthocyanins, which are pigments that give leaves, flowers and fruits their red colour. Analyses have confirmed that extracts are rich in such substances.

“These compounds have important anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and anti-tumour properties and are capable of modulating enzymatic processes,” explains another of the authors, Sara Tulipani from the University of Barcelona. She adds that “we have not yet found a direct relationship between their presence and photoprotective properties.”

“At the moment the results act as the basis for future studies evaluating the ‘bioavailability’ and ‘bioactivity’ of anthocyanins in the dermis and epidermis layers of the human skin, whether by adding them to formulations for external use or by ingesting the fruit itself,” states Tulipani.

Also made up of researchers from the Universities of Salamanca and Granada, in its previous works the team had already demonstrated that strawberries (Fragaria x ananassa) strengthen the red bloods cells and protect the stomach from the effects of alcohol.



Giampieri F, Alvarez-Suarez JM, Tulipani S, Gonzàles-Paramàs AM, Santos-Buelga C, Bompadre S, Quiles JL, Mezzetti B, Battino M. Photoprotective Potential of Strawberry (Fragaria × ananassa) Extract against UV-A Irradiation Damage on Human Fibroblasts. Journal of Agricultural Food Chemistry 2012; 60 (9): 2322-7.


Garlic Compound Fights Source of Food-Borne Illness Better Than Antibiotics

Researchers at Washington State University have found that a compound in garlic is 100 times more effective than two popular antibiotics at fighting the Campylobacter bacterium, one of the most common causes of intestinal illness. Their work was published recently in the Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy.

Researchers at Washington State University have found that a compound in garlic is 100 times more effective than two popular antibiotics at fighting the Campylobacter bacterium, one of the most common causes of intestinal illness.

The discovery opens the door to new treatments for raw and processed meats and food preparation surfaces.

“This work is very exciting to me because it shows that this compound has the potential to reduce disease-causing bacteria in the environment and in our food supply,” said Xiaonan Lu, a postdoctoral researcher and lead author of the paper.

“This is the first step in developing or thinking about new intervention strategies,” saif Michael Konkel, a co-author who has been researching Campylobacter jejuni for 25 years.

“Campylobacter is simply the most common bacterial cause of food-borne illness in the United States and probably the world,” Konkel said. Some 2.4 million Americans are affected every year, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, with symptoms including diarrhea, cramping, abdominal pain and fever.

The bacteria also are responsible for triggering nearly one-third of the cases of a rare paralyzing disorder known as Guillain-Barré syndrome.

Most infections stem from eating raw or undercooked poultry or foods that have been cross-contaminated via surfaces or utensils used to prepare poultry.

Lu and his colleagues looked at the ability of the garlic-derived compound, diallyl sulfide, to kill the bacterium when it is protected by a slimy biofilm that makes it 1,000 times more resistant to antibiotics than the free floating bacterial cell. They found the compound can easily penetrate the protective biofilm and kill bacterial cells by combining with a sulfur-containing enzyme, subsequently changing the enzyme’s function and effectively shutting down cell metabolism.

The researchers found the diallyl sulfide was as effective as 100 times as much of the antibiotics erythromycin and ciprofloxacin and often would work in a fraction of the time.

Two previous works published last year by Lu and WSU colleagues in Applied and Environmental Microbiology and Analytical Chemistry found diallyl sulfide and other organosulfur compounds effectively kill important food-borne pathogens, such as Listeria monocytogenes and Escherichia coli O157:H7.

Konkel cautioned that the recent work is still at the basic stage, well removed from an actual application. While eating garlic is a generally healthy practice, it is unlikely to prevent Campylobacter-related food poisoning.

However, “diallyl sulfide may be useful in reducing the levels of the Campylobacter in the environment and to clean industrial food processing equipment, as the bacterium is found in a biofilm in both settings,” he said.

“Diallyl sulfide could make many foods safer to eat”, said Barbara Rasco, a co-author on all three recent papers and Lu’s advisor for his doctorate in food science. “It can be used to clean food preparation surfaces and as a preservative in packaged foods like potato and pasta salads, coleslaw and deli meats.”

“This would not only extend shelf life but it would also reduce the growth of potentially bad bacteria,” she said.


Lu X, Samuelson DR, Rasco BA, Konkel ME. Antimicrobial effect of diallyl sulphide on Campylobacter jejuni biofilms. J Antimicrob Chemother. 2012 May 1. [Epub ahead of print]


Why Eat Avocados?

Did you know that avocados gives you many health benefits in return for the calories? The juicy green fruit is full of healthy nutrients that your body needs.


The anti-aging superfood avocado(NaturalNews) Foods that have an incredible array of health benefits that go well beyond just their nutrient value are considered superfoods. These foods are typically loaded with a combination of critical fatty acids, anti-oxidant phytonutrients and essential amino acids. Avocados are one of the best anti-aging superfoods to consume.


Seeking HIV Treatment Clues in the Neem Tree

Preliminary data hint at how extracts from the tree, abundant in tropical and subtropical areas, may stop the virus from multiplying 

Tall, with dark-green pointy leaves, the neem tree of India is known as the “village pharmacy.” As a child growing up in metropolitan New Delhi, Sonia Arora recalls on visits to rural areas seeing villagers using neem bark to clean their teeth. Arora’s childhood memories have developed into a scientific fascination with natural products and their power to cure illnesses. Now an assistant professor at Kean University in New Jersey, Arora is delving into understanding the curative properties of the neem tree in fighting the virus that causes AIDS. Sonia Arora presented her data at a poster session Sunday, April 22, at the Experimental Biology 2012 meeting in San Diego. Her preliminary results seem to indicate that there are compounds in neem extracts that target a protein essential for HIV to replicate. If further studies support her findings, Arora’s work may give clinicians and drug developers a new HIV-AIDS therapy to pursue. Extracts from neem leaves, bark and flowers are used throughout the Indian subcontinent to fight against pathogenic bacteria and fungi. “The farther you go into the villages of India, the more uses of neem you see,” says Arora. Tree branches are used instead of toothpaste and toothbrushes to keep teeth and gums healthy, and neem extracts are used to control the spread of malaria. Practitioners of Ayurvedic medicine, a form of traditional Indian alternative medicine, even prescribe neem extracts, in combination with other herbs, to treat cardiovascular diseases and control diabetes. The neem tree, whose species name is Azadirachta indica and which belongs to the mahogany family, also grows in east Africa. Arora’s scientific training gave her expertise in the cellular biology of cancer, pharmacology, bioinformatics and structural biology. When she established her laboratory with a new research direction at Kean University in 2008, Arora decided to combine her knowledge with her long-time fascination with natural products. The neem tree beckoned. Arora dived into the scientific literature to see what was known about neem extracts. During the course of her reading, Arora stumbled across two reports that showed that when HIV-AIDS patients in Nigeria and India were given neem extracts, the amount of HIV particles in their blood dropped. Intrigued, Arora decided to see if she could figure out what was in the neem extract that seemed to fight off the virus. She turned to bioinformatics and structural biology to see what insights could be gleaned from making computer models of HIV proteins with compounds known to be in neem extracts. From the literature, she and her students found 20 compounds present in various types of neem extracts. When they modeled these compounds against the proteins critical for the HIV life-cycle, Arora and her team discovered that most of the neem compounds attacked the HIV protease, a protein essential for making new copies of the virus. Arora’s group is now working on test-tube experiments to see if the computer models hold up with actual samples. If her work bears out, Arora is hopeful that the neem tree will give a cheaper and more accessible way to fight the HIV-AIDS epidemic in developing countries, where current therapies are priced at levels out of reach of many people. “And, of course,” she notes, “there is the potential of discovering new drugs based on the molecules present in neem.”

Red Wine Compound May Fight Obesity

Kee-Hong Kim found that piceatannol, a compound found in red wine and several fruits, blocks immature fat cells from growing. (Purdue Agricultural Communication photo/Tom Campbell)

A compound found in red wine, grapes and other fruits, and similar in structure to resveratrol, is able to block cellular processes that allow fat cells to develop, opening a door to a potential method to control obesity, according to a Purdue University study.

Kee-Hong Kim, an assistant professor of food science, and Jung Yeon Kwon, a graduate student in Kim’s laboratory, reported in this week’s issue of the Journal of Biological Chemistry that the compound piceatannol blocks an immature fat cell’s ability to develop and grow.

While similar in structure to resveratrol – the compound found in red wine, grapes and peanuts that is thought to combat cancer, heart disease and neurodegenerative diseases – piceatannol might be an important weapon against obesity. Resveratrol is converted to piceatannol in humans after consumption.

“Piceatannol actually alters the timing of gene expressions, gene functions and insulin action during adipogenesis, the process in which early stage fat cells become mature fat cells,” Kim said. “In the presence of piceatannol, you can see delay or complete inhibition of adipogenesis.”

Over a period of 10 days or more, immature fat cells, called preadipocytes, go through several stages to become mature fat cells, or adipocytes.

“These precursor cells, even though they have not accumulated lipids, have the potential to become fat cells,” Kim said. “We consider that adipogenesis is an important molecular target to delay or prevent fat cell accumulation and, hopefully, body fat mass gain.”

Kim found that piceatannol binds to insulin receptors of immature fat cells in the first stage of adipogenesis, blocking insulin’s ability to control cell cycles and activate genes that carry out further stages of fat cell formation. Piceatannol essentially blocks the pathways necessary for immature fat cells to mature and grow.

Piceatannol is one of several compounds being studied in Kim’s laboratory for its health benefits, and it is also present in different amounts in red grape seeds and skin, blueberries, passion fruit, and other fruits.

Kim would like to confirm his current finding, which is based on a cell culture system, using an animal model of obesity. His future work would also include determining methods for protecting piceatannol from degrading so that concentrations large enough would be available in the bloodstream to stop adipogenesis or body fat gain.

“We need to work on improving the stability and solubility of piceatannol to create a biological effect,” Kim said.



Jung Yeon Kwon, Sang Gwon Seo, Yong-Seok Heo, Shuhua Yue, Ji-Xin Cheng, Ki Won Lee, and Kee-Hong Kim. Piceatannol, Natural Polyphenolic Stilbene, Inhibits Adipogenesis via Modulation of Mitotic Clonal Expansion and Insulin Receptor-dependent Insulin Signaling in Early Phase of Differentiation. J Biol Chem 2012; 287: 11566-11578.



Eating flavonoids protects men against Parkinson’s disease

Men who eat flavonoid-rich foods such as berries, tea, apples and red wine significantly reduce their risk of developing Parkinson’s disease, according to new research by Harvard University and the University of East Anglia (UEA).

Published April 4 in the journal Neurology®, the findings add to the growing body of evidence that regular consumption of some flavonoids can have a marked effect on human health. Recent studies have shown that these compounds can offer protection against a wide range of diseases including heart disease, hypertension, some cancers and dementia.

This latest study is the first study in humans to show that flavonoids can protect neurons against diseases of the brain such as Parkinson’s.

Around 130,000 men and women took part in the research. More than 800 had developed Parkinson’s disease within 20 years of follow-up. After a detailed analysis of their diets and adjusting for age and lifestyle, male participants who ate the most flavonoids were shown to be 40 per cent less likely to develop the disease than those who ate the least. No similar link was found for total flavonoid intake in women.

The research was led by Dr Xiang Gao of Harvard School of Public Health in collaboration with Prof Aedin Cassidy of the Department of Nutrition, Norwich Medical School at UEA.

“These exciting findings provide further confirmation that regular consumption of flavonoids can have potential health benefits,” said Prof Cassidy.

“This is the first study in humans to look at the associations between the range of flavonoids in the diet and the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease and our findings suggest that a sub-class of flavonoids called anthocyanins may have neuroprotective effects.”

Prof Gao said: “Interestingly, anthocyanins and berry fruits, which are rich in anthocyanins, seem to be associated with a lower risk of Parkinson’s disease in pooled analyses. Participants who consumed one or more portions of berry fruits each week were around 25 per cent less likely to develop Parkinson’s disease, relative to those who did not eat berry fruits. Given the other potential health effects of berry fruits, such as lowering risk of hypertension as reported in our previous studies, it is good to regularly add these fruits to your diet.”

Flavonoids are a group of naturally occurring, bioactive compunds found in many plant-based foods and drinks. In this study the main protective effect was from higher intake of anthocyanins, which are present in berries and other fruits and vegetables including aubergines, blackcurrants and blackberries. Those who consumed the most anthocyanins had a 24 per cent reduction in risk of developing Parkinson’s disease and strawberries and blueberries were the top two sources in the US diet.

The findings must now be confirmed by other large epidemiological studies and clinical trials.

Parkinson’s disease is a progresssive neurological condition affecting one in 500 people, which equates to 127,000 people in the UK. There are few effective drug therapies available.

Dr Kieran Breen, director of research at Parkinson’s UK said: “This study raises lots of interesting questions about how diet may influence our risk of Parkinson’s and we welcome any new research that could potentially lead to prevention.

“While these new results look interesting there are still a lot of questions to answer and much more research to do before we really know how important diet might be for people with Parkinson’s.”



Gao X, Cassidy A, Schwarzschild MA, Rimm EB, Ascherio A. Habitual intake of dietary flavonoids and risk of Parkinson disease. Neurology, 2012 DOI: 10.1212/WNL.0b013e31824f7fc4