Disclaimer: This information was not written by an expert on diet/medicine/health, just a member of our team. For more info please click the references.
What makes damson plums healthy?
Damson plums are known to be jam-packed with vitamin C, riboflavin, and dietary fibre. But, the real health benefits come in the form of minerals, including phosphorus, potassium, copper, magnesium & manganese. (reference)
Why do we need these vitamins & minerals?
Vitamin C: Vitamin C is a vital nutrient for everyday life, It is best known for helping to maintain healthy bones, skin, and blood vessels. The human body does not store Vitamin C, and therefore, we must get it daily through food. Vitamin C is vital in many important bodily functions, including the production of collagen, l-carnitine and some neurotransmitters. Vitamin C also helps metabolize proteins and its antioxidant activity MAY reduce the risk of certain cancers. Vitamin C MAY also improve cardiovascular health, cholesterol, lead and histamine (study) levels, anemia, diabetes, seasickness (study) and lower the risk of cataracts (reference) and age-related muscular degeneration. One study found that wounds, cuts, and grazes may heal faster in people with a higher intake of vitamin C than is usually available in their food, this may be due to vitamin C's role in collagen production. Vitamin C's antioxidant effect helps repair tissue and reduce damage from inflammation and oxidation. People with adequate Vitamin C levels MAY be better able to fight infection than those with deficiencies. A study found that adding vitamin C to tuberculosis (TB) drugs MAY shorten therapy time by killing drug-resistant bacteria. Vitamin C MAY help in treating cancer. As an antioxidant, it works to protect the body against oxidative stress and works to prevent the oxidation of other cells, as well as regenerating other antioxidants. Many people believe that vitamin C can cure a common cold (not yet proven). (reference)
Collagen: Collagen, which Vitamin C helps produce, is found almost everywhere that provides support for our body. Collagen is the main component in fibrous tissues, such as tendons, ligaments, skin, cornea, cartilage, bones, the gut, and blood vessels. (reference & reference)
Vitamin B12 (Riboflavin): Vitamin B12 (Riboflavin) is one of the eight B vitamins that are essential for human health. Vitamin B12 (Riboflavin) is vital for breaking down food components (proteins, fats, and carbohydrates), absorbing nutrients, maintaining tissues, and maintaining the bodies energy supply. The human body does not store Vitamin B12 (Riboflavin), and therefore, we must get it daily, through food. Vitamin B12 (Riboflavin) is essential for maintaining the mucous membranes in the digestive system; maintaining a healthy liver; keeping the eyes, nerves, muscles and skin healthy; absorbing and activating iron, folic acid, and vitamins B1, B3 and B6; hormone production by the adrenal glands; preventing the development of cataracts; and fetal development, especially in areas where vitamin deficiency is common. (reference)
Dietary Fibre: Dietary Fibre (roughage), is the indigestible part of plant foods that travels through our digestive system. Dietary Fibre (roughage) helps ease bowel movements and stop constipation. Dietary Fibre (roughage) has been shown to protect against Heart Disease, by lower the levels of bad cholesterol (LDL or Low-Density Lipoprotein Cholesterol); help the treatment of diabetes, by slowing the absorption of sugar, preventing the spike after meals; help the treatment of obesity, by producing a feeling of fullness without actually adding any calories; as a bonus, most foods high in fibre are also high in other nutrients. (reference)
Phosphorus: Phosphorus is a vital mineral that is needed by the body for many essential functions. Phosphorus helps to; keep bones and teeth strong; aid in muscles contraction; aid in muscle recovery after exercise; filter and remove waste from the kidneys; promote healthy nerve conduction throughout the body; make Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) and Ribonucleic acid (RNA); manage the body's energy storage and usage. (reference)
Potassium: Potassium is an electrolyte that counteracts the effects of sodium, helping to maintain consistent blood pressure. Potassiums role has become increasingly vital over the last few decades with our diets including more and more sodium. Low potassium intake has been repeatedly and consistently linked with high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease. Ensuring a low sodium intake is essential for healthy blood pressure, but a good intake of potassium is also needed. Potassium is also vital in maintaining a healthy balance of acids and bases in the body (acid-base balance), too much of either can cause health problems (acidosis & alkalosis). In one study, participants who consumed 4,069 mg of potassium per day had a 49 percent lower risk of death from ischemic heart disease compared with those who consumed about 1,000mg per day. Potassium-rich foods maintain the acid-base balance in the human body, preventing against nitrogen excretion, loss in bone mineral density, and muscle wasting. In one study, participants who consumed 5,266 mg of potassium per day maintained an average of 3.6 more pounds of lean tissue mass than those with half of the potassium intake. Some studies also attribute an increase in bone density with high potassium intake. (reference)
Copper: Copper is a vital trace mineral necessary for human survival. Together with iron, copper enables the body to form red blood cells (cells that carry oxygen and carbon dioxide). Copper helps maintain healthy bones, blood vessels, nerves, and immune function, and it contributes to the bodies ability to absorb iron. Sufficient levels of copper in the diet may help prevent cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis. Low copper levels have been linked to high blood pressure, high cholesterol and neutropenia (a deficiency of white blood cells - cells that fight infection). Copper also plays a vital role in maintaining healthy collagen (see above) and elastin levels in our bodies. Scientists have hypothesized that copper may have antioxidant properties that, together with other antioxidants, help prevent skin aging. It has also been hypothesised that copper may help to prevent arthritis (this is why people wear copper bracelets). Copper's potential antioxidant properties would help reduce the production of free radicals (free radicals can damage cells and DNA, leading to cancer and other diseases). (reference)
Magnesium: Magnesium plays a role in more than 300 enzymatic reactions within the body. Magnesium is vital in the metabolism of food, synthesis of fatty acids and proteins, and the transmissions of nerve impulses. Magnesium is vital for bone formation, as it helps assimilate calcium into the bone and activate vitamin D in the kidneys (vitamin D is essential for healthy bones). Optimum magnesium intake is associated with greater bone density, improved bone crystal formation, and lower risk of osteoporosis in women after menopause. Without magnesium, a high intake of calcium can increase the risk of arterial calcification and cardiovascular disease, and kidney stones. Multiple studies have associated a higher intake of magnesium with a lower chance of getting diabetes. A meta-analysis (used to assess the results of previous research) of 7 of these studies, which included 286,668 patients and 10,912 cases of diabetes over 6 to 17 years of follow-up, found that 100mg/day increase in total magnesium intake decreased the risk of diabetes by a statistically significant 15%. It's important to note that most of these studies used magnesium from dietary sources. Magnesium is necessary for a healthy heart, adequate intake has been associated with a lower risk of atherosclerosis (fatty buildup on the walls of arteries) and hypertension (high blood pressure). One study found that people with the highest intake of magnesium were found to have a 58 percent lower chance of coronary artery calcification and patients who received magnesium soon after a heart attack had a lower rate of mortality; magnesium is sometimes used to treat congestive heart failure (CHF). Magnesium deficiency has been linked to anxiety. (reference)
Manganese: Manganese is a trace mineral essential for healthy functioning of the human body. Manganese helps form an antioxidant enzyme called superoxide dismutase (SOD) that shields the body from free radicals (free radicals damage cells and DNA, leading to cancer and other diseases). One study found that SOD helps break down one of the most dangerous free radicals called superoxide. Another study found that people with diabetes had lower levels of manganese in their bodies. Manganese, along with vitamin K, aids the formation of blood clots, the first step in wound healing. (reference)