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Dried plums may not sound like a super food, but recent research has shown that consuming this probiotic dried fruit could lower your risk of colon cancer. Also known as prunes, dried plums are not the most popular food. However, after looking at this research, you may want to include more in your diet.
Dried Plums Encourage Retention of Microbiota
The study in question was conducted by Dr. Nancy Turner from Texas A&M. She is a research professor in the nutrition and food science department. The heart of the research was that consuming dried plums helps to promote the retention of microbiota, also referred to as gut bacteria, which is found in the colon.
The presence of this healthy gut bacteria can lower the risk of colon cancer by fighting cancerous cells and preventing the growth of tumors. Microbiota is just one of more than a trillion types of bacteria found in the intestinal tract and only a little over 400 individual species of bacteria have been identified.
When disruptions of the microbiota occur, intestinal inflammation can recur. This recurrent inflammation can increase the risk of colon cancer.
Dried Plums Contain Phenolic Compounds
As part of the study, Dr. Turner examined the phenolic compounds found in dried plums. These compounds have a have a variety of health effects. They can act as antioxidants and neutralize free radicals. Free radicals are known to cause damage to DNA and increase the risk of cancer cells developing.
The study looked at the effects of phenolic compounds on rats. The rats were divided into two groups. One group was provided with a diet containing dried plums while the other group had a controlled diet without dried plums.
Both diets included the same total calorie count and macronutrient composition, to ensure that the only difference between the diets was the inclusion of dried plums. The researchers then examined the intestinal contents and tissues of the colon.
Dried Plums Increased Healthy Gut Bacteria
By examining the intestinal contents of the rats, the research team made two discoveries. First, they noticed that the rats with the dried plum diet had an increase in healthy gut bacteria and a decrease in unhealthy gut bacteria. The rats on the controlled diet experienced an opposite effect.
The rats on the dried plum diet also had a reduced occurrence of aberrant crypts when compared to the rats on the controlled diet. These aberrant crypts are often a strong indicator of an increased risk of cancer development.
By establishing more microbiota in the distal colon, researchers believe the rats that ate dried plums were less likely to develop colon cancer.
Final Thoughts on Dried Plums
The basic conclusion to the research conducted by Dr. Turner is that consuming dried plums can promote the retention of healthy microbiota. This is associated with a greatly reduced risk of developing colon cancer.
She is quick to note that further research is needed, to fully explore the impact of eating dried plums, but this another exciting development in anti-cancer research.