About 1 million Americans suffer Parkinson’s disease, a brain dysfunction that occurs when your brain fails to produce the neurotransmitter dopamine. However, researchers now believe that a certain type of vegetable can help protect you against this devastating condition. This is welcome news; there is no cure for Parkinson’s.
Researchers at the University of Washington in Seattle have investigated the benefits of eating vegetables belonging to the Solanaceae family, plants that produce edible sources of nicotine. They have found that these vegetables, including peppers and tomatoes, may reduce the risk of Parkinson’s in those who consume them regularly.
In general, the scientists found, eating vegetables does not influence your risk of Parkinson’s disease. But the researchers discovered that eating Solanaceae does produce a protective effect. Pepper seemed to be the most effective. The scientists also observed that the apparent benefits were seen mostly in men and women who did not smoke. (Tobacco smoke contains much more nicotine than foods.)
“Our study is the first to investigate dietary nicotine and risk of developing Parkinson’s disease,” says researcher Susan Searles Nielsen. “Similar to the many studies that indicate tobacco use might reduce risk of Parkinson’s, our findings also suggest a protective effect from nicotine, or perhaps a similar but less toxic chemical in peppers and tobacco.”