Plums Rival Blueberries for Cancer and Disease Prevention
Scientists from Texas AgriLife Research have discovered cancer-fighting nutrients in plums, rivaling the super antioxidant effect of blueberries. According to Dr. Luis Cisneros, AgriLife Research food scientist, plums especially are giving blueberries "some stiff competition".
The scientists performed tests on plums, nectarines and peaches, measuring the phytonutrient content against that of five brands of blueberries. After measuring the antioxidants in the fruits, they performed biological assays; something they say had never been done before because of the expense. They found that plums, nectarines and peaches exceeded or matched the antioxidant and phytonutrient value of the blueberry.
Next, they tested the fruits power on fighting disease. Cisneros said, "Knowing that we had all these varieties with high levels of antioxidants, then the possibility of preventing these diseases would also be high with their consumption, so we went to the next step – how these compounds could actually inhibit chronic diseases."
The research team found out that the plum inhibited the growth of breast cancer cells, without affecting normal cells.
Cisneros points out, "People tend to eat just a few blueberries at a time – a few on the cereal or as an ingredient mixed with lots of sugar. But people will eat a whole plum at once and get the full benefit."
The research is expected to continue to develop even better stone fruits that pack even more antioxidant punch, and can even be extracted for us as dietary supplements. Dr. Cisneros says, "Future work with stone fruits will focus on cardiovascular and cancer using animal models and identification of specific compounds that exert the properties."
The news that plums, peaches and nectarines rival blueberries for disease prevention, leads the research group to remind us we should take seriously the need to eat five servings of fruits and vegetables daily – making sure we include plums.
It turns out that plums are inexpensive and powerful disease fighters, especially worth noting in tough economic times.