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
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
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.
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.
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.