A nutritious diet is essential for healthy living with Parkinson’s.

Nutritious foods can help manage some of the common symptoms of the disease and support healthy brain functions. While more evidence on the effect of diet on the progression of Parkinson’s disease is needed, educating yourself about the benefits of a healthy diet is still important for your overall health and symptom management. The information on this website is a good place to start learning about nutrition.

What do I need to know about diet and medications?

Before you start making changes to your diet, you should know that protein can interfere with the uptake of levodopa. For people taking levodopa, timing your protein intake around your medications may help them work better. If you aren’t sure whether protein may interfere with your medications, or for advice on medication timing around meals, talk with your doctor.

What are some nutrition recommendations?

Plant-based, whole-food diets are healthy for everyone. For people with Parkinson’s, loading up on vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds can help manage symptoms and support a healthy lifestyle. Research suggests that the staples of a Mediterranean diet – which also includes fish and olive oil – may have benefits for people with Parkinson’s. These foods can be incorporated into just about any cuisine, and the recipes and other tools on this website can show you how!

Which foods should I eat and which should I limit?

The table below lists foods that you should try to include in your diet as often as possible (“More Is Better”) and foods that you should eat only occasionally (“Try To Limit”) to help maintain your health.

More Is Better

Try To Limit

Fresh and frozen vegetables and fruits Processed foods
Nuts and seeds Dairy
Fresh herbs and spices Sugar, high fructose corn syrup
Healthy fats, like olive oil and avocado Fried foods
Whole grains (brown rice, quinoa, whole oats, etc.) Refined grains (white flour, white bread, white rice)
Legumes (black beans, kidney beans, fava beans, chickpeas, etc.) Meat and animal fats
Fish (not fried!)
Tea (green, black, white, herbal)

What are some examples of “More Is Better” foods?

Below are some examples for choosing “More Is Better” foods, adapted from Dr. John Duda’s “Wellness Prescription for People with Parkinson’s Disease.” To learn more about Dr. Duda, read our interview with him about whole-food, plant-based diets for Parkinson’s.

More Is Better

Tips & Examples

Fresh and frozen vegetables Choose a variety of colorful vegetables. Good sources include: • Dark leafy greens (spinach, romaine lettuce, kale, arugula) • Cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussel sprouts) • Nightshade vegetables (tomatoes, peppers, egglplant) • Mushrooms
Fresh and frozen fruits Choose a variety of colorful fruits. Good sources include: • Berries (blueberries, cherries, goji berries, cranberries) • Stone fruits (plums, apricots, peaches, nectarines) • Dried fruits (prunes, dried apricots) • Pears, oranges, watermelon, bananas
Nuts and seeds Choose a variety of nuts and seeds. Good sources include: • Nuts: almonds, walnuts, pistachios, cashews • Seeds: pumpkin, sunflower, flax, chia
Fresh herbs and spices Choose a variety of fresh herbs and spices. Good sources include: turmeric, pepper, cinnamon, cilantro, curry, oregano, basil, thyme, ginger, rosemary, nutmeg, and garlic
Olive oil Use in salad dressings, marinades, and some cooking.
Whole grains Whole grains have the entire grain kernel, which contains dietary fiber and other nutrients. Examples include oatmeal, brown rice, quinoa, buckwheat, and barley
Legumes Legumes include beans, lentils and soy (tofu, miso, edamame, tempeh)
Fish Check out the Environmental Working Groups Good Seafood Guide for fishes that are high in Omega-3 fatty acids and low in mercury. Good sources include salmon and small fatty fishes (mackerel, anchovies, sardines)
Tea Tea without added milk or sugar contains a variety of nutrients. Try green tea or black tea.

Which nutrients are beneficial for Parkinson’s?

Many nutrients are beneficial for Parkinson’s. One type of nutrient, called antioxidants, helps to reduce damage to cells in the body and some evidence suggests they can reduce the risk of Parkinson’s. Plus, antioxidants are important for overall health. For these reasons, a diet high in foods containing antioxidants is essential for people with Parkinson’s. Antioxidants can be found in a variety of fruits, vegetables, herbs, spices and teas. Antioxidants include flavonoids, vitamin E, beta-carotene, and vitamin C. Good sources of these nutrients are included in the following table:


Vitamin E


Vitamin C

Leafy greens Leafy greens Leafy greens Leafy greens
Berries Broccoli Sweet potatoes Citrus fruits
Red cabbage Butternut squash Butternut squash Strawberries
Eggplants Red peppers Red peppers Peppers
Radishes Vegetable oils Carrots Melons
Purple asparagus Asparagus Broccoli Cruciferous vegetables
Kidney and black beans Nuts Peas Kiwis
Red onions Sunflower seeds Cantaloupe Pineapple
Plums Mango Mango Brussels sprouts
Pomegranates Tomato Black-eyed peas Tomato, tomato juice

What about pesticides on produce?

Certain pesticides and herbicides increase the risk of Parkinson’s. For this reason, we highly recommend reading “Ending Parkinson’s Disease” to learn about chemicals linked to Parkinson’s and join PD Avengers to participate in global efforts to limit or ban these chemicals. Though we know that some pesticides and herbicides can cause Parkinson’s, it’s unclear whether these chemicals affect the progression of the disease once someone is diagnosed. Still, it’s always a good idea to wash fruits and vegetables thoroughly before eating them. You may also want to consider the Environmental Working Group’s Shoppers Guide to Pesticides in Produce, which includes a list of fruits and vegetables that are lower in pesticides. There are also organic options available at grocery stores and farmer’s markets. You can also try growing your own produce! Gardening is a great activity for improving physical and mental health.

How can diet help with the symptoms of Parkinson’s?


Increasing your intake of fiber and fluids may help if you have constipation. Try eating 30-40 grams of fiber (about one cup of legumes and drinking 1-2 liters (6-8 glasses) of water daily to help this symptom. Fermented foods may also help digestive issues because of their naturally occurring probiotics – the helpful bacteria in our gut. Fermented foods include sauerkraut, kimchi, pickled herring, or kombucha. Prebiotics, which help good bacteria grow in our guts, can also help digestion. Prebiotics are found in high fiber, plant-based foods. Before you try a fiber supplement or laxative, be sure to speak to your doctor. And exercise is also a great way to keep your digestive system moving!

Sleep Problems

Sleep problems are common in Parkinson’s and affect quality of life. Though there are many things involved in getting a good night’s sleep, diet can help. Some studies have shown that a Mediterranean diet is associated with better sleep. There are also some things you should try to avoid before going to bed:
  • Avoid caffeine in the afternoon and evenings so it won’t keep you up at night.
  • Avoid alcohol because it disrupts your sleep cycle, even if it makes you feel tired at first.
  • Avoid eating too late so that you aren’t still digesting at bedtime.
  • Avoid spicy and fatty foods that can also give you indigestion.
  • Limit fluids right before bed so that you aren’t waking up to use the bathroom.

Weight Management

In the cases of weight loss and weight gain, there is likely an imbalance between how much you eat and how much energy you use. People experiencing weight loss may not be eating or absorbing enough calories. If you do not have an appetite or seem to be losing weight unintentionally, talk to your doctor about possible problems absorbing food, which is common in Parkinson’s. People experiencing weight gain are likely eating more calories than they burn through activities. A combination of eating less and doing more activity can help you lose weight.

Chewing & Swallowing Problems

Problems with chewing and swallowing can lead to choking or breathing food and liquids into the lungs. Both conditions can be dangerous, but a speech therapist can help you focus on safe swallowing. Additionally, choosing foods that are easier to chew and swallow can help. The table below, from ParkinsonNet’s Dietetic Guideline for Parkinson’s Disease, provides some guidelines to help you make decisions about what to safely eat. In general, liquids and soft and grinded foods can help with chewing and swallowing difficulties.



Try To Avoid

Difficulty chewing Soft and grinded food Tough and hard food; tough meat; hard fruits, crust
Difficulty manipulating food in the mouth Soft food Hard, granular or crumbly food, thin liquids
Too little saliva Soft and liquid food; more use of fluids during meals Dry food
Easily choking on liquids Thick liquids; thickening of thin liquids Thin liquids
Difficulty swallowing Liquid and soft food Tough and hard food