SAN FRANCISCO (Feb. 25) BUSINESS WIRE -Feb. 25, 1999--Prunes, a good
source of fiber, have long been recognized as a nutrient-rich fruit
with multiple health benefits.
But according to a recent study from Tufts University in Boston, prunes
may also help slow the aging process in both the body and brain. The
study ranks the antioxidant value of commonly eaten fruits and
vegetables using an analysis called ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance
Capacity). Prunes top the list with more than twice the level of
antioxidants than other high-scoring fruits such as blueberries and
ORAC is a test tube analysis that measures the total antioxidant power
of foods and other chemical substances. Early findings suggest that
this same antioxidant activity translates to animals, protecting cells
and their components from oxidative damage.
The studies conducted at the U.S. Department of Agriculture Human
Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University found that
feeding middle-aged rats foods with plenty of antioxidants prevented
loss of long-term memory and learning ability and maintained their
ability to respond to a chemical stimulus.
According to Dr. Nancy Snyderman, medical correspondent for ABC news,
the health benefits of antioxidants are well documented. "This study
gives us one more reason to eat plenty of fruits and vegetables.
There's evidence in the scientific community that eating a low-fat,
antioxidant-rich diet helps reduce your risk of breast and other types
Antioxidants are special compounds that protect against oxidation, or
cellular damage caused by free radicals. They are believed to protect
the body by gobbling up the oxygen-derived free radicals that damage
cells leading to heart disease, cancer, eye disorders like cataracts
and macular degeneration, and other chronic health problems.
Well-know antioxidants include vitamin E, vitamin C and beta carotene.
Thousands of other compounds found in fruits and vegetables, including
flavonoids, are also believed to offer the protective benefits of
While antioxidant vitamin supplements have grown in popularity, it may
be the combination of the nutrients in the foods that have the greatest
"If these studies are borne out in further research, young and
middle-aged people may be able to reduce risk of diseases of aging --
including senility -- simply by adding high (antioxidant) foods to
their diets," said Floyd P. Horn, administrator of the USDA's
Agricultural Research Service, in Beltsville, Md.
This isn't the first research indicating prunes, which are dried plums,
are high in antioxidant compounds. Researchers at the University of
California, at Davis, found that prunes contain high amounts of
neochlorogenic acid, a phenolic compound, and a strong antioxidant.
In addition, prunes are fat and cholesterol-free and are a delicious
way to add fiber, vitamins and minerals to meet your dietary
requirement of five fruits and vegetables a day. Previous studies have
shown that about 12 prunes a day decreased total and low-density
lipoprotein cholesterol in men with elevated blood cholesterol levels.
Top-scoring fruits and vegetables
ORAC units per 100 grams (about 31/2 ounces)
Prunes 5570 Kale 1770
Raisins 2830 Spinach 1260
Blueberries 2400 Brussels sprouts 980
Blackberries 2036 Alfalfa sprouts 930
Strawberries 1540 Broccoli Flowers 890
Raspberries 1220 Beets 840
Plums 949 Red bell pepper 710
Oranges 750 Onion 450
Red grapes 739 Corn 400
Cherries 670 Eggplant 390
Kiwi fruit 602
Grapefruit, pink 483
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CONTACT: Ketchum PR for California Prune Board
Michele Sloat, 415/984-2229
KEYWORD: CALIFORNIA MARYLAND MASSACHUSETTS
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