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Plum Health Benefits

plum, dried plums nutrition, plum health benefits

Plum is a stone fruit (large "stone" inside), with sweet and juicy edible flesh. It is produced by certain tree species classified in the botanical genus Prunus, which also include almond, apricot, cherry, and peach. Research reveals plum can protect against cancer and heart disease.

 

This small purple fruit of 36 calories provides essential amounts of nutrients such as dietary fiber, vitamin C and potassium. But plums also contain anthocyanins, purple pigments that give it its color. These pigments might protect against cancer cells and heart disease by destroying harmful free radicals. 

 

Plum and Colon Cancer  

 

A diet rich in dried plums may reduce the risk of colon cancer underlines a new American study presented in Boston at the Experimental Biology Conference 2015. The result would favor the maintenance of beneficial bacteria to the colon. Researchers at the A & M University in Boston and the University of North Carolina show how diet can affect the metabolism and composition of the intestinal microbiota and microflora (gut flora), all bacteria present in the entire colon and gastrointestinal tract. 

 

According to Dr. Nancy Turner, among the billions of gastrointestinal bacteria that colonize our digestive system, more than 400 individual species have already been identified. Previous studies have also shown that dysfunction of the microbiota is involved in the onset of bowel inflammation, which can cause occurrence of colon cancer. "Our research has examined the possible protective effects of dried plums against cancer using an experimental model of colon cancer in rats," says Dr. Turner. "Dried plums contain phenolic compounds with multiple effects on our health, including the ability to serve as an antioxidant." 

 

The hypothesis tested through experiment was to verify the role of dried plum in its ability to promote the maintenance of species of beneficial bacteria that are part of the microbiota and patterns of microbial metabolism in the colon. 

 

To do this, the researchers subjected rats to a control diet based or dried plums. After examining the intestinal contents and tissues from different segments of the colon of the rodents, the researchers found that dried plums-based diet increased the amount of bacteroidetes and reduced that of firmicutes, the two major bacterial lineages of the intestine in the distal colon, without changing the proportions found in the proximal colon. The animals subjected to the control regime had, conversely, a lower proportion of bacteroidetes and a larger amount of firmicutes. 

 

Plum Cancer Prevention 

 

Rats that ate plums also had fewer abnormal diverticulum, an outpouching of a hollow (or a fluid-filled) structure in the body. But these structures are usually observed in precancerous lesions, the researchers stated. The scientists conclude that the reduction in abnormal foci of diverticulitis associated with the reversal of the ratio bacteroidetes and firmicutes confirms indeed their hypothesis that dried plums could protect against the risk of colon cancer. 

 

Plums and Prunes have been already considered as anticancer foods due to their antioxidant composition; this finding however shed more light on the anticancer properties of plum. 

 

 

Sources 

1. Yang Y, Gallaher DD. Effect of dried plums on colon cancer risk factors in rats. Nutr Cancer 2005;53(1):117-25.
2. Ramos S, Alia M, et al. Comparative effects of food-derived polyphenols on the viability and apoptosis of a human hepatoma cell line (HepG2). J Agric Food Chem 2005 February 23;53(4):1271-80.
3. Olsson ME, Gustavsson KE, et al. Inhibition of cancer cell proliferation in vitro by fruit and berry extracts and correlations with antioxidant levels. J Agric Food Chem 2004 December 1;52(24):7264-71. 

4. Lea MA, Ibeh C, et al. Inhibition of growth and induction of differentiation of colon cancer cells by peach and plum phenolic compounds. Anticancer Res 2008;28:2067-76.