PARKINSON’S PLATE

Plate

There’s a lot of information online about nutrition and Parkinson’s. You’ve probably heard or read about nutrients that may or may not help people with Parkinson’s. But do you know what foods you should be eating? Or how much you should be eating? The Parkinson’s Plate, adapted from the USDA’s MyPlate, provides you with a basis for understanding what you should be eating during the day.

VEGETABLES

Vegetables should cover nearly half of your plate of food at each mealtime. That’s because vegetables are high in vitamins and other nutrients that are important for overall health. Studies also suggest that certain vegetables may be particularly helpful for people living with Parkinson’s. Below is information on specific nutrients found in vegetables that may help alleviate Parkinson’s symptoms and support brain health.

Antioxidants

Antioxidants help to reduce damage to the brain that is caused by free radicals. Evidence suggests that some antioxidants may also help to reduce the risk of Parkinson’s. These antioxidants include vitamin E, beta-carotene and flavonoids (especially a type of flavonoid called anthocyanins). Good vegetable sources of these antioxidants include:

VegetableChart

Fiber

Constipation is a common symptom of Parkinson’s. Fiber, a nutrient in fruits, vegetables and whole grains, can help with constipation. Vegetables that are high in fiber include:

1. Beans (black, kidney, navy, pinto, lentils)
2. Artichokes
3. Green Peas
4. Broccoli
5. Brussels Sprouts
6. Sweet Corn
7. Potatoes (with the peel)
8. Zucchini (with the peel)

Pesticides

Certain pesticides can increase the risk of Parkinson’s. Though the association appears to depend on levels and length of exposure to these pesticides, it’s a good idea to wash fruits and vegetables thoroughly before eating them. People with Parkinson’s may also want to consider the Environmental Working Group’s Shoppers Guide to Pesticides in Produce to help them choose fruits and vegetables that are lower in pesticide residues. http://www.ewg.org/foodnews/list.php

FRUITS

The abundance of nutrients in fruits and vegetables makes them a great choice for optimizing overall health. That’s why fruits and vegetables together should cover half of your plate of food at each mealtime. Studies also suggest that certain fruits may be particularly helpful for people living with Parkinson’s. Below is information on specific nutrients found in fruits that may help alleviate Parkinson’s symptoms and support brain health.

Flavonoids (Anthocyanins)

Flavonoids are a class of nutrients found in fruits and vegetables. Evidence suggests that flavonoids, particularly a type of flavonoid called anthocyanins, may be especially beneficial for people with Parkinson’s. A study published in the journal Neurology found that men and women with the highest consumption of berries – a rich source of anthocyanins – had a lower risk of developing Parkinson’s. Anthocyanins are powerful antioxidants that give fruits and vegetables their rich purple, blue and red colors – the darker the color, the more anthocyanins. Good fruit sources of anthocyanins include:

1. Berries (blueberries, cranberries, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries)
2. Black and Red Currants
3. Plums
4. Grapes
5. Bananas
6. Pomegranates
7. Peaches and Nectarines
8. Cherries
9. Apples

Pesticides

Certain pesticides can increase the risk of Parkinson’s. Though the association appears to depend on levels and length of exposure to these pesticides, it’s a good idea to wash fruits and vegetables thoroughly before eating them. People with Parkinson’s may also want to consider the Environmental Working Group’s Shoppers Guide to Pesticides in Produce to help them choose fruits and vegetables that are lower in pesticide residues. http://www.ewg.org/foodnews/list.php

WHOLE GRAINS

Whole grains should cover about a quarter of your plate of food at each mealtime. Specific nutrients in whole grains, such as fiber, can also help alleviate Parkinson’s symptoms. But the nutritional content in grains differs depending on the type of grain and how it’s processed. The information below can help you make the best choices for including whole grains in your diet.

Whole Grains vs. Refined Grains

Whole grains include the entire grain kernel, which contains dietary fiber and other nutrients. Refined grains have had parts of the grain kernel removed, which takes away many of the nutrients. For people with Parkinson’s, fiber can help alleviate constipation. And the other nutrients found in the grain kernel are important for overall health. The following table is a guide for choosing whole grains:

GrainChart

PROTEIN

Protein foods should cover less than a quarter of your plate of food – about the size of a deck of cards. Yet most Americans eat double the amount of protein that they need. For people with Parkinson’s, some studies have even shown that a low protein diet can help reduce tremors and other physical symptoms¬. Also know that protein interferes with L-dopa absorption – be sure to talk to your healthcare provider about the timing of eating protein when taking medications.

Because protein foods should be eaten sparingly during the early part of the day, below are suggestions for getting the healthiest proteins in your diet.

Eat Fish

Evidence suggests that a Mediterranean diet – high in fish, vegetables, fruits and whole grains – can reduce the risk of Parkinson’s. If you don’t eat fish, now is a great time to start! Choose seafood that’s high in nutrients called omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, trout and herring, to promote overall health.

Lean Proteins

Everyone can benefit from a diet low in animal fat to help prevent cerebrovascular disease. This is a particular concern for people with Parkinson’s as cerebrovascular disease can contribute to worsening symptoms. Eat proteins from vegetable sources – beans, peas, nuts and soy products. Choose lean meats like fish, chicken or turkey instead of beef or pork to decrease the amount of animal fat in your diet. When eating beef or pork, try to choose the leanest cuts and extra lean ground meat.

Lean Cooking

Choosing grilled, baked, broiled or boiled meats over fried ones helps to reduce the amount of bad fats in your diet. Trim all the visible fat from meats and poultry before cooking them – and drain off any fat that appears while cooking. Use vegetable oils instead of butter when preparing meats or vegetable sources of proteins. Avoid heavy sauces or gravies that add extra fat to protein foods.

BEVERAGES

Some studies suggest that caffeine, an ingredient found in green tea and coffee, may reduce the risk of developing Parkinson’s. Green tea may also have specific benefits for brain health and contains antioxidants that can help keep people healthy. It’s important to remember that some caffeinated beverages, such as soda, contain a lot of unhealthy sugar.