Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Plums and Prunes

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.

The plum season is from June through September and is at its peak in the months of July and August. It’s one of my favorite fruits for this season.

With the large number of plums available, it is not surprising that the various types have different heritages and places of origin. The European plum is thought to have been discovered around two thousand years ago, originating in the area near the Caspian Sea. Even in ancient Roman times, there were already over 300 varieties of European plums. European plums made their way across the Atlantic Ocean with the pilgrims, who introduced them into the United States in the 17th century.
While Japanese plums actually originated in China, they derived their name from the country where much of their cultivation and development occurred. Japanese plums were introduced to the U.S. in the late 19th century. Today, the United States, Russia, China and Romania are among the main producers of commercially grown plums.

The fresh version (plums) and the dried version (prunes) of the plant scientifically known as Prunus domestica have been the subject of repeated health research for their high content of unique phytonutrients called neochlorogenic and chlorogenic acid. These substances found in plum and prune are classified as phenols, and their function as antioxidants has been well-documented.

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.

The health benefits of Plums & Prunes:

1.Plums are engorged with vitamins. It has vitamin A, vitamin K and vitamin C. The fruit also has niacin, riboflavin and thiamin.

2.Plums also have pantothenic acid, folate, vitamin B6 and vitamin E.

3.Plums prove to be good laxatives and are good for the digestive system. The vitamin C and phenols in the fruit has antioxidant qualities, which look after the eyes and prevent macular degeneration; boosts immunity; improves cardiac health; and, protects against cancer.

4.Plums are rich in antioxidants, which provide protection from the superoxide anion radical. These antioxidants also prevent damage to our neurons and the fats that are part of our cell membranes.

5.Plums also lead to better absorption of iron.

6.The vitamin c in plums is good for the body tissue and for the immune system. It can prevent flu and colds and can even prevent the cholesterol from getting oxidized.

7.Since the vitamin C in plums can neutralize the free radicals, it prevents diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, colon cancer and asthma.

8.Prunes contains contains a lot of fibers and sorbitol a stool loosening sugar.

9.Prunes helps to slow aging process of the brain and body.

10.Prunes are excellent for increasing one's vitality.

11.Prunes helps in normal blood circulation.

12.Prunes is a good remedy for sore throat.

13.Prunes can help prevent cancer because of its high betacarotene content.

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