Hello and welcome to today’s installment of Cooking with Fey! Since today is Friday, we are going to explore a stone fruit that goes well in recipes or eaten fresh off the tree, the PLUM.
Plums are members of the Prunus genus and are related to other delicious foods like peaches, nectarines and oddly enough, almonds. Pretty plums have health benefits to add to your diet such as: reducing free radicals in the body, regulating our blood sugar and protecting our heart. These elements are wonderful for those of us with Atrial Fibrillation, as we can use all the help we can get to help our hearts function better and safer.
Plums are also an excellent source of:
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin K
Vitamin A is necessary for human growth and development, cell recognition, sight, proper immune system function, sexual reproduction, as well as helping the heart, lungs, and kidneys to function normally. While Vitamin A sounds like a miracle, be careful how much you take. If you ingest too much it can be harmful to the body. Most doctors recommend that adult men consume 900 mcg per day, and women take 700 mcg per day to stay within healthy levels.
Vitamin C is an important nutrient linked to immune system health. Having a strong immune system helps the body ward off illness or recover faster from sickness. Vitamin C is also great for the heart. In a research study published by the Harvard School of Public Health, the diets of 126,399 adults were examined over the course of many years to reveal that for every serving of fruits and vegetables a person consumed, there was a 4% reduction in their risk of developing coronary heart disease. Vitamin C also increases iron absorption in the body, so if you suffer from an iron deficiency or anemia, then plums might be the answer you’ve been looking for.
Vitamin K is important to the body because it is needed for the body to product a protein called prothrombin, which allows the body to support bone metabolism and form helpful blood clots (like when you get a paper cut and the blood clots to stop the bleeding, not the scary kind of blood clot). Vitamin K creates healthy, strong bones by increasing their density. Denser bones are less likely to break or sustain injury.
Meanwhile, potassium helps the body maintain a normal blood pressure and nerve function. This means that plums can help the nervous system regulate muscle movements more effectively.
Copper is a very vital mineral that every part of the body needs in order to function. Why, you might ask? Because copper helps our bodies make red blood cells, keep our nerve cells healthy and support our immune system. Copper also helps our body form collagen, absorb iron from the food we eat and assists in energy production. That sounds like a super important mineral to me!
Think of manganese as a superhero for our bones. This mineral helps bones grow and then maintain their density. Manganese, when combined with calcium, zinc and copper, supports bone mineral density in any age of human development. However, this is very important in our active ageing populations. As you may have heard, when we age our bones begin to lose their density. This can cause bones to become weak and break easily, so manganese is important to make sure we are ingesting enough of as we get older.
As you may know, plums contain a fantastic source of antioxidants to fight off free radicals in the body. As you may remember from a previous blog on strawberries, antioxidants have been shown in studies to delay cognitive issues like memory less, fight some cancers and decrease your chances of developing heart disease or diabetes. These same antioxidants also keep our skin looking young and beautiful. Science is starting to show that consuming antioxidants can help slow the onset of wrinkles, age spots or decreased elasticity in our skin.
Polyphenol antioxidants found in plums have a fantastic impact on bone maintenance reduce the chances of developing heart diseases or diabetes. The reason for this is because polyphenols are powerful anti-inflammatories that can help those who suffer from joint inflammation or lung problems. Plums contain over twice the polyphenol content of peaches or nectarines, so they are a great option for individuals struggling with inflammation problems.
Plums have been found to contain adiponectin, a hormone responsible for blood pressure regulation. Researchers Parvin Mirmiran, Zahra Bahadoran and Fereidoun Azizi conducted a study on functional foods in the diet and their impact on managing type two (2) diabetes. The researchers uncovered that plums, and other such foods, can have a positive impact for diabetics by the food’s antioxidant and bio-active compounds helping the body to manage these complicated conditions.
In addition to helping regulate blood pressure, plums also help us protect our heart. Heart health is a serious matter, and as someone with a heart condition I can attest to how awful it is to have problems with one of our most vital organs. Plums and their juice has been proven to lower blood pressure, overall total cholesterol levels and the bad LDL cholesterol that we all need to avoid. The fiber, potassium and antioxidants found in plums are being shown to have positive impacts on the risk of developing heart disease later in life.