Plums are packed with a powerhouse of welltrients, including vitamin A, magnesium, iron, potassium, copper, boron and phenolic compounds, which help regulate glucose metabolism, promote cardiovascular health, assist bone metabolism, and aid digestion. Plums are packed with important vitamins and minerals like vitamin A, magnesium, iron and are a source of dietary fiber, sorbitol, potassium, copper, boron and phenolic compounds which are active in interrelated physiological and health promoting functions. These compounds help regulate glucose metabolism, promote cardiovascular health, are involved in bone metabolism, protect against cancer, and contribute to digestion. •
Research at the University of California, Davis, has quantified the phenolic composition of dried plums and prune juice. (J. Agric. Food Chem. 1998, 46, 1247-1252). Neochlorogenic acid is the main phenolic compound.
Dried plums completely stopped and were able to reverse bone loss in an animal model of ovarian deficiency (a model for post-menopausal osteoporosis). The mechanism responsible for this is not known. Some speculate the mechanism might be related to the phenolic compounds, sorbitol, boron or dried plum’s ability to impact absorption of minerals. (B. Arjmandi, Ph.D., RD, Oklahoma State University, 1998.)
In an animal model using ovariectomzied rats, dried plums suppressed the rise in serum cholesterol without affecting HDL (good) cholesterol associated with the onset of menopause. At menopause, women’s risk for coronary heart disease drastically increases due to ovarian hormone deficiency. Options for lowering cholesterol include a diet rich in plant fiber and other protective nutrients. (B. Arjmandi, Ph.D., RD, Oklahoma State University, 1998.)
Dried plums contain a number of phenolic antioxidant compounds — mainly neochlorogenic acid, a phenol in the hydroxycinnamate family. A sensitive method to detect and measure hydroxycinnamate levels in human plasma and urine has been developed. (A. Waterhouse, University of California, Davis, 1997-2000.)
An analysis of the carotenoids in dried plums discovered 13 separate carotenoids, 7 of which have vitamin A activity. (F. Khachik, Ph.D., Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of Maryland, College Park, 2000.)
Preliminary results from a small study with premenopausal women indicate that the equivalent of three ounces of dried plums may affect estrogen metabolism. (S. Kasim-Karakas, MD, B. L. Lasley, Ph.D., University of California, Davis, 1998-2000.)
Study participants have been able to include up to 12 dried plums a day in their diets without adverse GI discomfort. (L.Tinker, B. Schneeman, University of California, Davis, 1991.)
According to an analysis of the National Health Nutrition Examination Survey III (NHANES III), dried plums make an important contribution to the nutrient intakes of those who eat them. For dried plum eaters, dried plums are the top contributor of copper, the #2 contributor of fiber and potassium, and in the top 10 contributors of carotenes, vitamin B6, iron and magnesium. (G. Block, Ph.D., Block Dietary Data Systems, 1999.)
According to the NHANES III analysis, compared to those who did not eat dried plums, dried plum eaters:
Tended to have healthier lifestyles.
Had significantly higher nutrient intakes of several nutrients including potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, iron and zinc while maintaining a lower percent of calories from fat.
Had significantly lower diastolic and systolic blood pressure.
Had higher and therefore healthier HDL cholesterol levels - almost reaching statistical significance.
Had significantly higher blood levels of desirable nutrients including carotenes, vitamins A,E,C and folate. (G. Block, Ph.D., Block Dietary Data Systems, 1999.)
History: There are three varieties of the Common Plum (Prunus communis), though perhaps most would assert the distinctness, even in a wild state, of more. When the bark is black, the branches spreading in all directions, and every twiglet ending in a thorn; when the leaves are finely toothed and smooth beneath; when the flowers come out before the leaves, and have smooth flower-stalks, and when the globular purple fruit does not exceed half an inch in diameter, they term it Prunus spinosa, the Blackthorn, or Sloe. When the bark is brown, the branches straight, with few thorns, the leaves broader, with larger and blunter serrations, and downy below; when the flowers and leaves expand at the same time, and the flower-stalks are downy; and when the globular fruit is either yellow or purple, and is nearly an inch in diameter, they call it Prunus insititia, the Damson or Bullace. When,the bark is brown, the branches straight and thornless, the flower-stalks smooth, and the under-surfaces of the leaves only downy along the veins, and when the purple fruit is oblong and over an inch in length, the tree is an escape from cultivation, although termed the Wild Plum (Prunus domestica). The Bullace is a larger shrub than the Blackthorn, and the Plum is a small tree, having generally a distinct main stem five or ten feet high.
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