Dried plums, also known as prunes, are famous for their effects as a remedy for constipation. Now researchers working with rats have found that a diet rich in dried plums also appears to reduce the risk of colon cancer.
Changing the Balance of Gut Microbes:
The rats in the study were randomized to get a diet including prunes or one with equal calories, fat and protein but no dried plums. At the end of the study, the rats who had been consuming the dried fruit had a different balance of gut bacteria, with more of the phylum Firmicutes and fewer of the phylum Bacteroidetes.
The ecology of the gut bacteria are thought to play an important role in whether a person develops colon cancer, with Firmicutes being more protective. Apparently the phenolic compounds in the dried plums have antioxidant activity and help encourage the shifting balance of gut flora.
Healthier Colon Tissue:
In addition, the rats eating the prunes had fewer precancerous changes called crypts in their colon tissue. While we still don’t know if eating dried plums will help protect humans from colon cancer, it should at least make bathroom visits easier.
The study was supported by the California Dried Plum Board.