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Heart Health

Dried Apple versus Dried Plum: Impact on Cardiovascular Disease Risk Factors in Postmenopausal Women

J Acad Nutr Diet 2012.;112:1158-1168. Chai SC, Hooshmand S, Saadat R, Payton ME, Brummel-Smith K and Arjmandi BH.

This 1-year clinical trail investigated the effect of dried apple (75 g) vs dried plum (about 100 g) matched for calories, carbohydrate, fat and fiber on lowering cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factors in postmenopausal women. There were no significant differences between the dried fruit interventions in altering serum levels of atherogenic cholesterol levels except at 6 months with the dried apple intervention. Dried plum consumption lowered serum total and LDL cholesterol by 3.5% and 8% respectively at 12 months compared to baseline, but the decline was not statistically significant. Both dried fruits lowered serum levels of lipid hydroperoxide and C-reactive protein (CRP). However, serum CRP levels were significantly lower in the dried plum group compared with the apple group at 3 months. The investigators concluded that consumption of both dried apple and dried plum are beneficial to human health in terms of anti-inflammatory and antioxidative properties.


Snack Selection Influences Nutrient Intake

J Am Diet Assoc. 2010;110:1322-1327. doi: 10.1016/j.jada.2010.06.002. Howarth L, Petrisko Y, Ferchner-Evanson A, Nemoseck T and Kern, M.

Results of this study suggest that relative to a commercially processed low-fat cookie snack, dried plums promote more favorable plasma triglyceride responses, improved dietary quality, and slightly improved bowel function. The study investigated the influence of a 2-week intervention incorporating 100 kcal servings of dried plums vs low-fat cookies twice daily on total energy, nutrient intake, biochemical parameters and bowel habits in a randomized crossover design of two-2-week trials separated by a 2-week washout period. The study involved 26 women aged 25-54 with a body mass index (BMI) between 24 and 25. Incorporation into the diet of dried plums or the low-fat cookies did not change energy intake or weight. However, compared to cookies, dried plums promoted greater (P<0.05) intake of fiber, potassium, riboflavin, niacin, and calcium. Total fat intake tended to decrease with dried plum consumption as did cholesterol intake. Plasma triglyceride concentration remained unchanged by dried plum consumption (P>0.05) and was 17.0 +/-29.2 mg/dL higher ((P<0.05) after consumption of the low fat cookies at the end of 2 weeks. Dried plums promoted a softer (P<0.05) stool consistency vs usual intake and in comparison to intake of low-fat cookies.

Dried Plums (prunes) Reduce Atherosclerosis Lesion Area in Apolipoprotein E-Deficient Mice

British Journal of Nutrition2009;101 (2):233-239.  Gallaher, C.M. and Gallaher, D.D

The apoE-deficient mouse, which develops atherosclerotic lesions rapidly when fed cholesterol, was used to determine the ability of dried plums at different dose levels to reduce atherosclerosis.  Arterial trees were dissected, stained to visualize lesions, and lesion area was quantitated by imaging software.  Percentage arterial tree atherosclerotic lesion area was significantly lower in the low dose dried plum diet with a trend in difference with the higher dried plum diet.  These results suggest that consuming dried plums may help slow the development of atherosclerosis.  The study also reported on other measures of oxidative stress and inflammation.

Plant Polyphenols Could Decrease the Risk of Premature Mortality from Major Clinical Conditions

Epidemiological evidence suggests that diets rich in fruit and vegetables decrease the risk of premature mortality from major clinical conditions, including cancer and heart disease. It is not yet clear which components or combination of components in fruit and vegetables are protective or what their mechanism of action is.

Duthie, G. G., P. T. Gardner, et al. (2003). “Plant polyphenols: are they the new magic bullet?Proc Nutr Soc 62(3): 599-603


Cereal Fiber Consumption Among the Elderly is Associated with Lower Risk of Cardiovascular Disease

Fiber, particularly cereal fiber, consumption among the elderly is associated with lower risk of cardiovascular disease.

Mozaffarian, D., S. K. Kumanyika, et al. (2003). “Cereal, fruit, and vegetable fiber intake and the risk of cardiovascular disease in elderly individuals.” JAMA 289(13): 1659-66.

Prune Suppresses Ovariectomy-Induced Hypercholesterolemia in Rats

Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry 11, no. 5 (2000): 255–259
Lucas, E.A., Juma, S., Stoecker, B.J. and Arjmandi, B.H.

This study investigated the efficacy of prunes on lowering cholesterol in an ovariectomized (ovx) rat model. Animals were divided into four groups: sham-operated+contol diet; ovx+control diet; ovx+5 percent prune diet and ovx+25 percent prune diet. OVX raised serum total cholesterol 22 percent compared with sham, and the 25 percent prune diet prevented this increase without affecting HDL-C. The authors report that prune exhibits hypocholesterolemic properties in an animal model of ovarian hormone deficiency.

Reducing Risk of Cardiovascular Disease and Possibly Colon Cancer through high fruit and vegetable fiber intakes

High fruit and vegetable fiber intakes reduce risk factors for cardiovascular disease and possibly colon cancer.

Jenkins, D. J., C. W. Kendall, et al. (2001). Effect of a very-high-fiber vegetable, fruit, and nut diet on serum lipids and colonic function.” Metabolism 50(4): 494-503


Prune Fiber or Pectin Compared with Cellulose Lowers Plasma and Liver Lipids in Rats

Journal of Nutrition 124 (1994): 31–40
Tinker, L.F., Davis, P.A. and Schneeman, B.O.

The study tested the hypotheses that dietary fiber extracted from dried plums lowers plasma and liver cholesterol compared with purified cellulose in rats with diet-induced hyperlipidemia and that the response is dose dependent. The dietary fiber sources included 6 percent cellulose, 3 percent dried plum fiber, 6 percent dried plum fiber or 3 percent pectin. The nonhyperlipidemic control was fed a 6 percent cellulose diet without cholesterol or cholic acid.
Results showed that groups of rats fed the pectin or dried plum fiber diets had lower plasma, LDL and liver cholesterol concentrations than those on the hyperlipidemia diet with 6 percent cellulose. There were, however, no differences in plasma or liver cholesterol concentrations between the two levels of dried plum dietary fiber (3 percent or 6 percent), or between the groups fed the 6 percent dried plum dietary fiber and pectin. Results indicated that dietary fiber extracted from dried plums lowers plasma and liver cholesterol in hyperlipidemic rats, but a dose-dependent response was not detected. Feeding fiber extracted from dried plums rather than the whole dried fruit product indicates that the dietary fiber in dried plums has hypocholesterolemic activity.

Consumption of Prunes as a Source of Dietary Fiber in Men with Mild Hypercholesterolemia

American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 53 (1991): 1259–65
Tinker, L.F., Schneeman, B.O., Davis, P.A., Gallaher, D.G. and Waggoner, C.R.

The study tested the hypothesis that dietary fiber in dried plums can lower plasma cholesterol levels in men with mild to moderate hypercholesterolemia. Dried plums provide approximately 5 to 7 grams of dietary fiber per 100 grams, about 60 percent of which is pectin. Pectin as a type of soluble dietary fiber previously had been shown to lower serum cholesterol in those with hypercholesterolemia. These studies used purified pectin rather than pectin-containing foods. This study tested the ability of pectin-containing whole foods to lower blood cholesterol levels. It also tested the hypothesis that dried plums would increase fecal bile acid excretion as a result of the dietary fiber and that this might help explain the cholesterol-lowering effect. Dietary fiber had been shown to absorb bile acids in-vitro and in-vivo.

This eight-week crossover trial involved 41 free-living adult men with mild hypercholesterolemia (5.2–7.5 mmol/L) serving as his own control. The eight-week period was divided into two experimental diet periods of four weeks each. Subjects were randomly assigned to a fruit juice supplement diet or a dried plum supplement diet. During the dried plum supplement period, subjects supplemented their usual diet with 12 dried plums (100 grams; 6 grams of dietary fiber). During the fruit juice control period, subjects ate their usual diet supplemented with 360 ml of a fruit juice control that was similar to dried plums in simple carbohydrate, but contained negligible dietary fiber. Results indicated that plasma LDL-cholesterol was significantly lower after the dried plum period (3.9 mmol/L) than the fruit juice control period (4.1 mmol/L). Fecal bile acid concentration of lithocholic acid was significantly reduced after the dried plum supplement period compared to the fruit juice control period. Both fecal wet and dry weights were higher after both the dried plum and fruit juice supplement periods. There was no significant difference in total bile acids between experimental periods.