Plums are Powerhouse of Protection Against Cataracts

black plumsPlums are poetry in a fruit. William Carlos Williams must have thought so because he wrote a free verse poem asking forgiveness for eating the plums that belonged to someone else. Plums are worth writing about because they are not only sweet and delicious but they are also a powerhouse of antioxidants! Plums contain over 4,000 total antioxidants per serving. These antioxidants can help prevent premature aging, cancer and degenerative eye conditions like cataracts.

Cataracts are a natural result of aging, but a reaction called oxidative stress can cause cataracts to grow much more rapidly. Oxidative stress results when free radicals in the environment damage our DNA, including the cells in our eyes. Antioxidants help neutralize the harmful effects of free radicals and strengthen the body’s immune response.

All fruits and vegetables contain antioxidants to protect the body against oxidative stress, but the plum is especially potent. Research from The Nurse’s Health Study shows that women who ate a healthy variety of vegetables, fruits and grains containing antioxidants were half as likely to develop cataracts. Their risk significantly lowered when their diet was rich in vitamin C and E. One plum contains 10 percent of daily vitamin C. Vitamin C is an important component of a healthy immune system, muscle and skeletal system and circulatory system. It also is essential in helping the body absorb iron.

Today, there seems to be a supplement for everything, and antioxidants are no exception. Can we get the same protection against cataracts by popping a pill? Nutritionists, dieticians and researchers have tested whether antioxidant supplements can have the same effect as antioxidants derived from food. Interestingly, supplements are not effective and do not provide protective benefits against cataracts. The reason may be that antioxidants have a certain synergy with other nutrients so they are absorbed more efficiently when eaten in the form of food. People who eat antioxidant-rich food generally have healthier lifestyles. They also tend to avoid obesity, heart disease and because they eat more produce and choose a more nutritious diet (Source: The World’s Healthiest Foods).

To entice you to try plums today, here are a few suggestions on ways to eat plums. You can take someone else’s plums like in Williams’ poem, or you can be nice and buy your own plums from your local grocery store or farmer’s market!

  • Use fresh plums in a salad with mixed field greens, goat cheese, walnuts, dried figs and a vinaigrette dressing
  • Make a succulent dessert by poaching plums in red wine and serving with lemon zest.
  • Blend with yogurt, ice and juice to make a morning smoothie.

 

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