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Will fava beans help my Parkinsons?

Fava beans, also known as broad beans, are large lumpy green pods containing green beans with a tough outer skin. Their outer skin is usually removed and they can be eaten raw, cooked, or recently, have been made into tasty dried crunchy snacks. They have a slightly sweet, bold nutty taste with a mild bitterness. The legume is rich in protein, dietary fibre, complex carbohydrates and even the amino acid levodopa (L-dopa). This amino acid helps to increase dopamine production, which is what is lacking in those with Parkinsons Disease, in fact, synthetic L-dopa is already being used in Parkinsons Disease medications. 

So, will fava beans help with your Parkinsons Disease?

The consumption of fava beans has shown to improve motor performance, reduce dyskinesia, lengthen “ON” periods and reduce “OFF” periods. “ON" periods refer to when you’re not experiencing the symptoms of Parkinsons Disease, such as tremor, rigidity and anxiety, and “OFF” periods are when you are experiencing these symptoms. 

Not all types of fava bean consumption have shown to have these positive effects. When the beans are cooked rather than raw, the effects they have on Parkinsons symptoms are much greater and can help reduce bloating and gastrointestinal discomfort associated with eating them raw. Unfortunately, the large amount of fava beans needed to be consumed to have the desired effect on L-dopa will still cause gas and abdominal discomfort. Since fava beans are a natural product, the amount of L-dopa they contain can vary so greatly, so some beans may have much less L-dopa while some can have large amounts. Because of this variability, the consumption of fava beans for the management of Parkinsons Disease symptoms is not consistent. For these reasons, fava beans alone should not replace medication use for Parkinsons Disease, but can definitely be consumed in conjunction with medication to help alleviate symptoms. It is always important however to consult with a medical practitioner.