"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," Cisneros said. "But people will eat a whole plum at once and get the full benefit."
Discovery of the plum's benefits along with that of fellow stone fruits, the peach and the nectarine came after the researchers measured at least five brands of blueberries on the market. Against those numbers, the team measured the content of more than 100 different types of plums, nectarines and peaches.
The first comparison was for antioxidants, molecules that sweep through a body looking for free radicals to knock out. Free radicals are atoms or molecules that lurk where diseases like cancer and heart disease are found.
"If the radicals aren't taken care of," Cisneros said, "they will cause the problems that lead to disease."
But the scientists didn't stop at knowing that plums and peaches were flexing their antioxidant muscles.
"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," Cisneros said.
The team examined the full content of plums and peaches, then tested the effect of the compounds they found on breast cancer cells and cholesterol in the lab.
"We screened the varieties again with the biological assays," Cisneros said. "And that had never been done before, because it is expensive and a lot of work. But that investment is small in terms of the information we got, and how it can be used now for breeding efforts to produce even better fruit."
Byrne noted, for example, that one benefit the team fo
|Contact: Kathleen Phillips|
Texas A&M AgriLife Communications