Alubukhara or plums are one of the most vital stone-fruit crops of the world. There are 2000+ varieties of plums, among which only a few are of commercial importance.
Alubukhara is an important source of various compounds that influence human health and prevent the occurrence of several diseases. It is predominantly consumed in fresh form throughout the world.
With many known varieties of alubukhara, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that it has diverse heritages and places of origin all over the world. The practice of cultivation of the alubukhara tree has been carried out since prehistoric times, which is longer than any other type of fruit, except the apple. Today, plum is successfully cultivated in all temperate climate countries of the globe. Europe first bred European plums or Prunus domestica, whereas America first had the American plum or Prunus americana. South Asia successfully cultivated the cherry plum or Prunus cerasifera, while Western Asia is home to the Damson plum or Prunus salicina.
Alubukhara has an abundance of bioactive compounds, including phenolic acids, carotenoids, anthocyanins, pectin and minerals. For several decades, alubukhara has been used in Indian medicine as a vital component of natural drugs that are used in cases of leucorrhoea, irregular menstruation and miscarriage.
Alubukhara is low in calories but high in nutritive value. It contains carbohydrates, including sucrose, fructose, glucose, organic acids (citric and malic acids), fibre (pectin), tannins, enzymes and aromatic substances. The mineral content in alubukhara increases as the fruit ripens.
Research carried out on the health effects of alubukhara has shown extremely promising results regarding its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and memory-improving characteristics. The increased interest in alubukhara research has been majorly attributed to its high content of phenols (mostly anthocyanins), which are known to be excellent natural antioxidants. In addition, alubukhara is known for its anti-allergic properties, and consumption of the fruit is associated with enhanced cognitive function as well as improved bone health parameters and cardiovascular health.
Phenolic compounds are a unique and fascinating class of bioactive compounds that are widely spread throughout nature. Owing to their richness in health-promoting components and prevention in the occurrence of numerous diseases as well as their phenomenal content of nutrients, there has been a growing interest in ascertaining the total phenolic content (TP) and total antioxidant capacities (TAC) of alubukhara in recent years.
One of the most important benefits of Alubukhara pertain to improved digestive health. This is because Alubukhara regulates the functioning of the digestive system, thereby relieving constipation. Moreover, because the Alubukhara fruit is a rich source of dietary fibre, sorbitol, and isatin, it has myriad benefits when it comes to digestive health.
Vitamin C, present in Alubukhara, helps the body to develop immunity to infectious agents and to scavenge free radicals, which causes harm to the body.
Fresh plums such as yellow Mirabelle have moderate amounts of vitamin A and beta carotene. This vitamin A content is believed to offer protection from oral and lung cancer.
Alubukhara has significant amounts of carotenoids such as lutein, zeaxanthin, and cryptoxanthin. These compounds are a specific type of scavengers that offer protection against ageing and disease-causing, oxygen-derived free radicals as well as reactive oxygen species. Zeaxanthin is known for its antioxidative properties and protective ultraviolet light-filtering functions.
Alubukhara is also a rich source of iron, fluoride, and potassium, which is a crucial component of the cell as well as body fluids. It also helps in controlling blood pressure and heart rate.
Moreover, Alubukhara is a moderate source of vitamin B-complex groups, including niacin, vitamin B6, and pantothenic acid, which help the body in metabolising carbohydrates, proteins and fats. Further, plums provide 5% of the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) level of vitamin K, which is essential in bone metabolism and offering clotting function in the blood. It may also reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease in the elderly.
Consumption of Alubukhara prevents macular degeneration, heart disease, and damage to neurons and fats that are an integral part of our cell membranes.
Alubukhara is a rich source of fibre and antioxidants, which offer a wide range of health benefits such as enhanced digestive and cardiovascular system. It also has benefits when it comes to tumorogenesis and osteoporosis.
This article is reviewed by Dr. Sunanda Ranade