Kakadu Plum: Health Benefits Beyond Vitamin C Supply


Kakadu plum is an edible, vitamin C rich fruit produced by the Terminalia ferdinandiana tree, a small deciduous tree native to the tropical woodlands of Australia. Also known as Gubinge, Murunga, Bush Plum, and Billygoat Plum, this small green fruit with a somewhat sour taste has been credited with a number of health benefits, many of which have been attributed to the extremely high levels of vitamin C found in this Australian superfruit.

As knowledge about the health benefits of Kakadu plums spreads around the world, health-conscious consumers looking to add more superfoods to their diets are increasingly embracing products containing this vitamin C champion. Kakadu plum juice and 'gubinge powder' (dried and powdered Kakadu plums), for example, have been gaining a lot popularity among foodies and health enthusiasts in recent years.

In this article, we take an in-depth look at the potential nutritional benefits of Kakadu plums. At the end of the article, you'll also find tips on where you can Kakadu plum juice if you like in the US or UK.


Kakadu Plums Contain Over 20 Times as Much Vitamin C as Oranges

Did you know that Kakadu plums are supercharged with vitamin C, with a 100-gram serving of Kakadu plums providing around 1,240 milligrams of vitamin C (that's more than 20 times the amount of vitamin C found in oranges). In fact, along with superfruits like the camu-camu fruit, acerola cherry and baobab fruit, Kakadu plums top the list of the world's best natural sources of vitamin C.

But why are vitamin C rich foods, such as Kakadu plums, so good for you? For one thing, vitamin C plays a crucial role in keeping your immune system, bones, teeth, and gums strong and healthy. It can also help keep your skin supple due to its ability to stimulate collagen production, and it may help prevent iron deficiency by improving the body's capability to absorb iron from foods. Vitamin C may also have allergy-fighting properties due to its ability to prevent histamine release and to stimulate detoxification of existing histamine in the body.


Gubinge – A Goldmine of Antioxidants

Health Benefits of Kakadu Plum

In addition to the health benefits listed above, the vitamin C in Gubinge or Kakadu plums is a natural antioxidant. As you may already know, antioxidants scavenge free radicals, unstable atoms and molecules that promote pre-mature aging as well as the development of certain diseases such as heart disease, Alzheimer's disease and cancer.

Vitamin C aside, Kakadu plums are also rich in phenolics, phytochemicals that have been shown to possess extremely strong antioxidant properties. In fact, research suggests that the phenolic content of a fruit or vegetable may be the single best indicator of the food's antioxidant capacity (even better than the food's vitamin C content).

Considering the high levels of antioxidant nutrients and phytochemicals found in Kakadu plums, it is not surprising that this Australian superfood has been shown to beat many other fruits in terms of antioxidant capacity. A study published in the journal Innovative Food Science and Emerging Technologies assessed the antioxidant power of twelve native Australian fruits, and found that Kakadu plums had the highest antioxidant capacity among the tested fruits, as determined by Trolox Equivalent Antioxidant Capacity (TEAC) assay. When the researchers used the Photochemiluminescence (PCL) assay, Kakadu plums ranked second after Tasmanian pepper (also known as mountain pepper or Tasmanian pepperberry). Other fruits that ranked high in the two assays included Cedar Bay cherries, Burdekin plums, blueberries, muntries and Illawarra plums.


Anti-Cancer Effects of Kakadu Plums

Eating antioxidant-rich fruits in general is a great way to reduce your risk of developing cancer, but eating Kakadu plums might be particularly beneficial. A study published in the journal Nutrition and Cancer found that polyphenols extracted from Kakadu plums had significant inhibitory activity against cancer cell lines. These anti-cancer effects were largely attributed to the ability of the Kakadu plum extract to induce apoptosis (self-destruction) in cancer cells.


Anti-Bacterial Properties Proven by Laboratory Studies

A study published in the February 2011 issue of the journal Pharmacognosy Journal reported that Kakadu plum extracts also have strong anti-bacterial and anti-microbial properties. A deionized water extract of Kakadu plum, for example, inhibited the growth of 11 of the 14 bacteria tested (79%). It showed particularly strong anti-bacterial activity against Gram-positive bacteria, inhibiting the growth of all tested Gram-positive microbes (B. cereus, S. aureus, S. epidermidis and S. pyogenes).


Where to Buy Kakadu Plum (Gubinge) Juice

In countries like the US and UK, you will have trouble finding fresh Kakadu plums. However, Kakadu plum juice is increasingly available, especially in health food stores and online shops. The online retailer Amazon, for example, sells Kakadu plum (Gubinge) juice here ( for US residents) and here ( for UK shoppers).


References
1. I. Konczak et al (2010). Antioxidant capacity and hydrophilic phytochemicals in commercially grown native Australian fruits. Food Chemistry, 123(4), 1048-1054.
2. M. Netzel et al (2007). Native Australian fruits – a novel source of antioxidants for food. Innovative Food Science & Emerging Technologies, 8(3), 339-346
3. Aaron C. Tana, Izabela Konczak and Iqbal Ramzan (2011). Native Australian Fruit Polyphenols Inhibit Cell Viability and Induce Apoptosis in Human Cancer Cell Lines. Nutrition and Cancer, 63(3), 444-455.
4. I.E. Cocka and S. Mohantya (2011). Evaluation of the antibacterial activity and toxicity of Terminalia ferdinandia fruit extracts. Pharmacognosy Journal, 3(20), 72-79.




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