Antioxidant Rich diet

Copied from The Northwest Parkinson’s Foundation Weekly News Update

Author: Marco Vespignani, ND


How can I increase my body’s level of antioxidants?

Nature offers a more balanced variety of antioxidants (See Article Below) nutrients necessary for balanced health. What may be important to optimal health may not be simply the nutrients, fiber, vitamins, and minerals found in food but the smart balance or combination that nature has to offer us giving better results. Trying to strike that balance with pills and supplements is a difficult thing to do. Getting your anti-oxidants from your diet is a much better solution than pills.

Increasing fruits and vegetables in your diet is the single most important thing you can do increase anti-oxidants intake and promote a healthy diet for heart, brain and general health.

Bottom line- eating your vegetables was good for you as a child and continues to be so as an adult. Increasing you and your families intake of fruits and vegetables also helps digestive health, energy levels, reduces the risk of diabetes, obesity, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, heart disease and some cancers.

The USDA recommends 8-10 servings of fruits and vegetables a day. One serving is the equivalent of half a cup of broccoli, and a small apple. A large apple is actually two servings. It may be helpful to make small changes rather than try and change your diet significantly. Focus first on adding one extra serving of fruit or vegetable a day. Add a variety of anti-oxidants to your diet by trying new varieties of fruits and vegetables. Because anti-oxidants are pigmented compounds, make your diet a colorful one choosing from all colors of the spectrum- purple, yellow, red, green, blue, orange.

Other foods that are high in anti-oxidants and good for your health are listed below. Many of these have made our Top Foods for Pd (See the article - Top Foods Below)

Dark pigmented fruits and vegetables are a good place to start. Other tasty sources like chocolate, wine, coffee and olive oil may surprise you.

Fruits- Aim for 3-4 servings of fruit.

Vegetables- Aim for 4—5 servings of vegetables.


Red wine or purple grape juice- remember our rule of thumb for health -moderation is key. Limit your intake of wine or alcohol to one glass per day. Eliminate alcohol from your diet if you are diabetic, have low blood pressure, thinking problems or balance and coordination difficulties. Some medicines should not be combined with alcohol so be sure to talk with your doctor about whether this is right for you. Grape juice can be used as an alternative to red wine.

Green and white tea- Choose these teas over more common black tea. Although high in antioxidants these teas are also high in caffeine. Limit intake or drink decaffeinated if you suffer from jitteriness, tremor, anxiety or insomnia.

Spices – Learn how to cook with spices to make food more flavorful and interesting. This is especially important for people with Parkinson’s that enjoy food less due to impaired sense of smell or loss of appetite.

Olives and olive oil contain antioxidant and are a source of good fats. Use olive oil in place of other oils, butter or margarine.

Look for chocolate with a high concentration of cocoa a source of flavinoids. Dark chocolate is typically higher in cocoa and lower in (look for >70% cocoa). Again remember our rule of thumb, moderation is key here. Many people with Parkinson’s have sweet tooths and too much chocolate leads to weight gain, too much saturated fat, and less tendency to eat other healthy food choices. (See Article on Chocolate below)

Author: Monique Giroux, MD




According to every health article you read, antioxidants are the food of the future. Everything, from fruit juices to hand cream contain them. We’re supposed to eat a ton of them. So what makes these marvelous cancer fighting, age defying super nutrients so great?

Anti-oxidants help repair the naturally occurring damage that happens in the process of our everyday lives. Put simply, oxidation is the rusting of the human tissue, which ultimately leads to aging and cellular breakdown.

Oxidation can only be stopped with antioxidants.

Parkinson’s Disease is thought to arise from the oxidation of the substantia nigra, a unique part of the brain. Current research is looking to discover whether the slowing of oxidation in Parkinson’s patients can lead to the slowing of disease progression.

Antioxidants come in many forms, they are beautiful and they even taste great. Common vitamins like C and E occur naturally in many foods and can be purchased in supplement form. Phytonutrients, the color in our food reflects the presence of unique antioxidants – imagine dark berries, yellow peppers even green tea, full with color and antioxidants. At the same time, certain foods we eat help us create our own powerful antioxidants such as glutathione

Clearly, we need to get as many antioxidants as we can get our hands on.

·                The absolute best source of naturally occurring antioxidants is from healthy, organic whole foods. Eat a colorful, whole food diet, high in fruits and vegetables.

·                The rich, vibrant colors of fruits and vegetables are filled with these antioxidant chemicals. A diet that contains multiple servings and varied color will ensure that a broad range of antioxidants are consumed.

·                Also eating foods that are high in selenium, such as brazil nuts, and high in protein such as beans and grains will help the body to make more glutathione.

Go to form more information on antioxidants and your health.



Top Foods for Parkinson's disease

Water - Be sure to get your fluids to prevent dehydration, and improve constipation.

Nuts- Almonds and Walnuts - Good Source of protein, fiber, and healthy Omega 3s!

Low fat yogurt - High in calcium and protein plus healthy probiotics to improve your gastric flora and digestion. Mix with pills to help swallowing if this is a problem

Prunes - “Not just for grandma”. High in antioxidants, fiber, vitamin A and potassium plus effectively treats constipation.

Salmon, sardines and tuna - Packs a “big punch” for protein plus high in heart healthy omega 3s. Eating sardines with the bones adds calcium. Be careful how much tuna you eat in one week due to accumulation of mercury.

Berries - Pomegranates, cranberries, blueberries, blackberries. All high in antioxidants.

Broccoli - “Your mom was right- eat your broccoli”. Source of antioxidants and a high source of fiber, vitamin C, calcium, iron and magnesium for a vegetable.

Green Tea - Great source of phytochemicals that serve as antioxidant and a way to get your fluids too. A source of anti-oxidants for those wanting low (no) calorie options.

Chocolate - Cocoa, rich in flavinoids and other antioxidants, may reduce the risk of cardiovascular and stroke disease. Dark chocolate is highest in cocoa (choose brads with >70% cocoa). Cocoa may also increase brain serotonin a chemical that modulates mood. Beware that processed chocolate is high in fat and processed sugars so not good for everyone. Moderation is key!

Nut butter - Consider almond butter over peanut butter as an energy booster and healthy source of fats, protein and fiber

Ginger - Ginger has been used for centuries to treat nausea and research is proving its value for treatment of nausea during chemotherapy or with motion sickness. Using ginger root or candied ginger is one way to insure you are getting the real product as the purity of supplements is not regulated.

Papaya - Fruit not only high in antioxidants but may also contains an enzyme papain that can thin thick saliva. (Meat tenderizer made from papaya root mixed with water also helps).

Oatmeal - Easy to swallow, easy to prepare, high in fiber, and low in calories. This food also promotes heart health, may reduce cholesterol.

Flax Seeds - Add to yogurt, salads, vegetables and cereal or use flax seed oil (or fish oil) for source of omega 3s and treatment of constipation.

Tumeric - Main ingredient in curry not only spices up your food but offers many potential benefits. Some refer to it as the anti-aging spice due to its powerful anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Studies suggest it may benefit people with rheumatoid arthritis, high cholesterol, cancer, and Alzheimer’s dementia.

Cranberry Juice - Cranberries are a good source of antioxidants. Tannins, a chemical found in cranberries inhibit the attachment of E. coli (a common cause of bladder infections) to the bladder wall reducing the risk of bladder infection especially in women. Adding juices to diet help low blood pressure problems seen in PD so 100% cranberry juice is a good choice.

Lentils - provide both carbohydrates and protein, making them a great addition to any meal. They're also a great source of fiber--which translates to a slow release of glucose--as well as B vitamins, iron, magnesium, potassium, zinc, calcium and copper. And they're low in fat and calories to boot.

New food item submitted by Gerri 7/10

Asparagus and Avocado. Submitted by member Gerri as a boost to glutathione levels. These foods have sulfur containing amino acids- a necessary building block for glutathione. These foods also add fiber, antioxidants and the fat in avocado is preferred over other fat sources. Other foods high in sulfur containing amino acids include peaches, watermelon, eggs, cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage).


Chocolate is good for you!

How many times have you craved that piece of chocolate cake or Hershey’s kiss? Eating chocolate is pleasurable so much so that many of us our self admitted ‘chocoholics’. In addition, many people with Parkinson’s have a ‘sweet tooth’. Researchers from Dresden University found that people with Parkinson’s ate more chocolate than research participants without Parkinson’s even though both group consumed the same amount of total sweets.

So is there something special about chocolate itself?

Chocolate may increase brain neurotransmitters. Chocolate contains chemical substances such as phenylethylamine that can release dopamine in the brain. Dopamine is not just an important neurotransmitter associated with movement changes in Parkinson’s. Dopamine is chemical messenger that influences brain areas associated with our sense of craving, reward system and addiction.

Chocolate contains caffeine. We all know the how caffeine makes us feel. Many people consider the effects of caffeine positive but this is not always the case. For some it can help as ‘gain energy and stay alert’. For others it causes irritability, anxiety, tremor and insomnia.

Chocolate contains powerful antioxidants called flavanols. These flavanols protect against oxidative stress a chemical reaction that can damage cells neurons. Research suggests that antioxidant rich chocolate may be good for your heart, blood pressure and blood lipid levels.

Shopping for Chocolate

Read the ingredients! Chocolate is produced from the cocoa bean. Chocolate contains cocoa extract, cocoa butter, sugar, and milk. Reading the label will determine the relative amounts of each of these ingredients. Choose products that list cocoa as the first ingredient.

  • White and milk chocolate are high in both sugar and milk fat and low in healthy ingredients. Choose dark or bittersweet.
  • Choose Dark chocolate. Search for cocoa content > 70% to insure a greater concentration of healthful antioxidants and substances above.
  • Remember that a diet high processed sugar and dairy fat can lead to a number of health problems. Limit chocolate to less than 1 oz daily.
  • Mix real cocoa powder with milk for hot chocolate rather than prepared hot chocolate mix.

Chocolate has made the list of Top Pd Foods with the caveat being only if used sparingly.

Author: Monique Giroux, MD


Better Nutrition


Nutrition and Parkinson's Steps To a Healthy Diet

1. Examine your diet. and complete a diet log over the next 7 days daily.

2. Score your diet. Use the information recorded in your daily diet log to complete your Personal Nutrition Summary questionnaire. See information below for more information about categories of foods and their role in your diet.

3. Take Action for Change. The next step is to identify areas for improvement in your diet and chose or prioritise one area for change.

Note: This exercise is designed to help you identify areas for improvement in your diet. I It does not take the place of your doctor, nutritional counseling. It is important to talk with your doctor or nutritionist before making any diet changes. This is especially true if you have diabetes, heart disease, high cholesterol high blood pressure or kidney disease.

Author: Monique Giroux, MD

Copyright 2011 Northwest Parkinson's Foundation Wellness Center



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