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What Foods are Good for Parkinson's Disease?

Christian Worstell

by Christian Worstell | Published December 21, 2023 | Reviewed by John Krahnert

No food or diet can serve as a cure for Parkinson’s disease. But eating certain foods can help minimize symptoms and help you get the most out of your medication.

Parkinson’s is caused by a decreased production of dopamine. Low levels of dopamine lead to diminished motor skills, balance problems, fatigue and other symptoms. The food and nutrients you put into your body can play a critical role in producing dopamine. So while eating the right food certainly cannot offset the effects of Parkinson’s disease entirely, a recommended diet can support your body’s ability to produce dopamine and combat symptoms of the disease.

The Best Foods for Parkinson’s

People suffering from Parkinson’s disease should try to maintain a diet heavy in the following foods:

One symptom of Parkinson’s is constipation. Drinking water throughout the day can help with that.

Prunes and berries
Prunes and berries, which are rich with antioxidants, fiber, vitamin A and potassium, are also good for staving off constipation.

Salmon, trout, tuna and sardines contain high levels of protein and omega-3 fatty acids, which can help to counter the neuro-inflammation brought on by Parkinson’s. Depression and fatigue have also been linked to Parkinson’s and omega-3 fats can provide a mental and emotional boost.

Antioxidants, fiber, vitamin C, calcium, iron and magnesium are all found in broccoli. Magnesium acts as a natural relaxant and can fight certain Parkinson’s symptoms such as muscle tremors, spasms, insomnia, high blood pressure, irregular heartbeat and hyperactivity.

Sufferers of Parkinson’s have a good excuse to indulge in chocolate. The flavonoids and antioxidants can reduce the risk of strokes and cardiovascular disease and cocoa can increase serotonin in the brain, which helps regulate mood.

Parkinson’s doesn’t necessarily cause nausea, but the medication used to treat it often does. Ginger has been used for centuries to help with nausea.

The vitamin K in pistachios has potential for reestablishing lost connections between neurons and the lithium in them can improve mood.

Macadamia nuts
The oils in macadamia nuts can increase the production of neurotransmitters.

Cashews give a boost to serotonin, which can improve your mood and might even reduce memory loss.

Yellow mustard
People with Parkinson’s may experience muscle cramping at night. Yellow mustard, tonic water, salt, vinegar and pickle juice can alleviate cramping.

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Foods to Avoid

Just as there are foods that are good for Parkinson’s disease, there are also some things people with the disease should avoid. Certain types of foods do not interact well with the medication used to treat the symptoms of Parkinson’s and can inhibit the body’s ability to absorb the medication in a proper manner.

Levodopa, the most commonly administered drug to treat Parkinson’s symptoms, can have a hard time being properly absorbed by the body if you are eating a protein-heavy diet filled with meat, fish and cheese.

Another type of medication used by those with Parkinson’s are MAO-B inhibitors such as Rasagiline and Selegiline. These increase the production of tyramine, so if you’re taking these medications and also eating a tyramine-rich diet, the combination could elevate your blood pressure. Foods with increased levels of tyramine include:

  • Fish and meat that is cured, fermented or air-dried
  • Aged cheeses such as cheddar, swiss, camembert and blue cheese
  • Fermented cabbage such as sauerkraut and kimchi
  • Soybean sauce and other soybean products
  • Red wine and tap beer

Caffeine can interfere with medication and irritate some symptoms of Parkinson’s such as muscle tremors and irregular heartbeats.

Enriched fiber
The process of enriching flour strips the grain from its natural fiber, and fiber helps alleviate the common Parkinson’s symptom of constipation. Avoid enriched breads, pasta and cereals and instead opt for whole grain alternatives.

Gastric reflux is a common symptom of Parkinson’s and can be intensified by foods high in acid such as tomatoes and tomato sauce, citrus fruits, soda and garlic.

Tips for Eating with Parkinson’s

Eating right with Parkinson’s disease is as much about what you eat as how you eat it. There are several eating habits those with Parkinson’s can adopt to better manage their symptoms.

  • People suffering from Parkinson’s may experience trouble chewing or swallowing. Dunk bread, toast, cookies and crackers in milk or water to soften them before chewing or take a drink along with each bite to soften food.
  • Because fatigue and muscle tremors are common symptom of Parkinson’s, select meals that are easy to prepare or seek help from family members or a meal delivery service.
  • Many people with Parkinson’s disease struggle with weight management. Weigh yourself weekly, avoid foods with added sugars and ask your doctor about taking nutritional supplements.

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Recipes to Try

The 7:1 carbohydrate to protein diet is one that is recommended by the American Parkinson Disease Association. This diet balances seven parts of carbohydrates for every one part of protein and produces the most stable blood levels for a consistent and optimal response to Levodopa.

Below are three recipes that adhere to the 7:1 ratio diet.

Baked stuffed squash


  • ½ pound of sweet turkey sausage
  • 1 cup of chopped apples
  • ½ cup of chopped onion
  • ½ tsp. Of ground sage
  • ½ tsp. Of ground black pepper
  • 2 medium-sized acorn squash


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Mix together sausage meat, apples, onion, sage and pepper in a mixing bowl. 
  3. Cut squash in half lengthwise and scoop out seeds and stringy portion. 
  4. Fill the squash with the sausage mixture. 
  5. Place squash in baking dish and add two tablespoons of water.
  6. Cover and bake for 50-60 minutes.

Black bean quesadillas


  • 12 6-inch corn tortillas
  • One 15-ounce can of black beans, drained and rinsed
  • ½ tsp. Of chili powder
  • One 4-ounce can of chopped green chilies
  • Four ounces of shredded Monterey Jack cheese


  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. 
  2. Lightly mash beans and add chili powder. 
  3. Spread two tablespoons of beans and chili powder mix onto each of six tortillas and top with chillies and cheese.
  4. Top each filled tortilla with an empty one and press down slightly. 
  5. Bake for 10 minutes.

Pasta salad


  • One cup of cooked macaroni pasta
  • ½ cup of broccoli florets
  • ½ cup of cauliflower florets
  • One finely diced celery stalk
  • One tbs. of sliced black olives
  • ½ cup of sliced sweet pepper
  • ½ cup of chopped tomatoes 
  • One tbs. of chopped parsley
  • Two tbs. of olive oil
  • One crushed garlic clove
  • A pinch of ground black pepper
  • One tsp. of balsamic vinegar


  1. Cook pasta as directed, drain and rinse. 
  2. Add one tbs. of oil to pasta.
  3. Heat remaining oil in a pan and add everything except the parsley. 
  4. Cook for four minutes.
  5. Add parsley, salt, pepper and pasta and cook for an additional minute. 
  6. Remove from heat and add vinegar. 

More Healthy Food Guides

For more food information and recipes, read through some of our articles below.


*This content is not medical advice, nor is it a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.


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