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Science backs plum's blood pressure benefits

Researchers have found that daily consumption of nectar from the Queensland-bred Queen Garnet plum decreases blood pressure and the risk factors of metabolic syndrome.

A Victoria University clinical trial led by Professor Michael Mathai of the Institute for Health and Sport and published in the Journal of Functional Foods in March, found Queen Garnet nectar reduced blood pressure, fasting glucose, insulin and LDL (bad) cholesterol levels in overweight and obese patients who consumed it over three months. Metabolic syndrome is a group of conditions which increase the risk of heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes.

The nectar is among a range of value-added products including powders and chewables produced from the Queen Garnet. The specialty fresh line is in season only in February and March. Nutrafruit Limited holds the global licence to market the plum and associated products.

Nutrafruit chief executive officer Luke Couch said the results were significant for the Queen Garnet which had continued to gather evidence of health benefits since it was first harvested in 2014.

The Victoria University study found blood pressure reduction from the nectar was similar to reductions achieved when people took antihypertensive drugs.

"According to the Heart Foundation, there are more deaths caused by high blood pressure in Australia than any other single risk factor. We're excited for the health of Australians, who can gain a range of health benefits, including a lowering of blood pressure, by consuming some nectar daily," Mr Couch said.

"There are very few products that have the research to support being a 'functional food' but Queen Garnet can pin its hat on that.

"As more Australians are trying to find natural foods to enhance their health and wellbeing, taking the nectar is a conversation people at risk of cardiovascular and metabolic diseases could have with their health-care practitioners," he said.

Professor Mathai collaborated with Victoria University PhD student Maharshi Bhaswant and Professor Lindsay Brown of the University of Southern Queensland's (USQ) School of Health and Wellbeing to conduct the study in 2015 and author the report.

The human trial was inspired by similar findings from a USQ study, led by Professor Brown, on obese and hypertensive rats which found the nectar reversed inflammation of the heart and liver, as well as blood pressure and fat levels, Dr Mathai said.

The researchers attribute the effects to the known benefits of the Queen Garnet's anthocyanins - powerful antioxidants found in red, blue and purple fruits and vegetables. Queen Garnet plums contain up to seven times more than other plums.

"Our study showed consumption of Queen Garnet nectar has important and exciting implications for an increasingly sedentary society," Professor Mathai said.

Further studies are underway at USQ, Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation and the University of Wollongong with the first results of these expected in 2020.

For the full press release, please click here.

For more information:
Luke Couch
Tel: +61 (07) 3217 1644

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