Thursday, March 14, 2013
Article # 400. Health Benefits of Plums
Health Benefits of Plums
There are few fruits that come in such a panorama of colors as the juicy sweet tasting plum. The plum season extends from May through October with the Japanese varieties first on the market from May and peaking in August followed by the European varieties in the fall.
Plums belong to the Prunus genus of plants and are relatives of the peach, nectarine and almond. They are all considered "drupes," fruits that have a hard stone pit surrounding their seeds. When plums are dried, they are known as prunes.
Significant Antioxidant Protection from Phenols
These damage-preventing substances are particularly effective in neutralizing a particularly destructive oxygen radical called superoxide anion radical, and they have also been shown to help prevent oxygen-based damage to fats, such as the fats that comprise a substantial portion of our brain cells or neurons, the cholesterol and triglycerides circulating in our bloodstream, or the fats that make up our cell membranes.
§ Delicious, fleshy, succulent plums are low in calories (46 calories per 100 g) and contain no saturated fats; however, contain numerous health promoting compounds, minerals and vitamins.
§ Certain health benefiting compounds present in the plum fruits, such as dietary fiber, sorbitol, and isatin are known to help regulate the functioning of the digestive system and thereby relieve constipation conditions.
§ Total antioxidant strength of plums measured in terms of ORAC (Oxygen radical absorbance capacity) is 6259 µmol TE/100 g. Fresh berries are a moderate source of vitamin C, which is also a powerful natural antioxidant. Consumption of foods rich in vitamin C helps the body develop resistance against infectious agents, counter inflammation and scavenge harmful free radicals.
§ Fresh plums, especially yellow Mirabelle type, are a moderate source of vitamin A and beta carotene. Vitamin A is essential for good eye sight. It is also required for maintaining healthy mucus membranes and skin. Consumption of natural fruits rich in vitamin A has found to protect from lung and oral cavity cancers.
§ The fruit is also good in health promoting flavonoid poly phenolic antioxidants such as lutein, cryptoxanthin and zea-xanthin in significant amounts. These compounds help act as scavengers against oxygen-derived free radicals and reactive oxygen species (ROS) that play a role in aging and various disease processes. Zea-xanthin, an important dietary carotenoid selectively absorbed into the retinal macula lutea where it is thought to provide antioxidant and protective UV light-filtering functions.
§ Plums are plentiful in minerals like potassium, fluoride and iron. Iron is required for red blood cell formation. Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids that helps controlling heart rate and blood pressure.
§ In addition, the berries are moderate sources in B-complex groups of vitamins such as niacin, vitamin B-6 and pantothenic acid. These vitamins are acting as cofactors help the body metabolize carbohydrates, proteins and fats. They also provide about 5% RDA levels of vitamin K. Vitamin K is essential for many clotting factors function in the blood as well as in bone metabolism and help reduce Alzheimer's disease in the elderly.