Connie K. Ho for redOrbit.com
Walking in the aisle of a produce section of a supermarket, you´ll be bombarded by a variety of fragrant smells and bright colors. With so many choices these days, it can be quite difficult to pick out the best healthy fruits and veggies. Luckily, a new study points to fruits that have beneficial qualities. Texas AgriLife Research recently discovered that peaches, plums, and nectarines have bioactive compounds that can possibly stave off obesity-related diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.
To begin, Texas AgriLife Research focuses on agriculture, life sciences, and natural resources. It is made up of 13 research centers and is an agency of the Texas A&M University System, collaborating with Texas A&M University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, the Texas AgriLife Extension Service, as well as other organizations. According to Dr. Luis Cisneros-Zevallos, an AgriLife Research food scientist, the study shows how the compounds in stone fruits could protect against “metabolic syndrome” where obesity and inflammation could result in serious health issues.
“In recent years obesity has become a major concern in society due to the health problems associated to it,” remarked Cisneros-Zevallos, an associate professor at Texas A&M University, in a prepared statement. “In the U.S., statistics show that around 30 percent of the population is overweight or obese, and these cases are increasing every year in alarming numbers.”
Cisneros-Zevallos points to factors like lifestyle, genetic predisposition, and diet as affecting the possibility of developing obesity but states that metabolic syndrome has the greatest influence.
“Our studies have shown that stone fruits — peaches, plums and nectarines — have bioactive compounds that can potentially fight the syndrome,” explained Cisneros-Zevallos in the statement. “Our work indicates that phenolic compounds present in these fruits have anti-obesity, anti-inflammatory and anti-diabetic properties in different cell lines and may also reduce the oxidation of bad cholesterol LDL which is associated to cardiovascular disease.”
In addition, the fruits have a combination of bioactive compounds that work together within the three different areas of the disease.
“Our work shows that the four major phenolic groups — anthocyanins, clorogenic acids, quercetin derivatives and catechins — work on different cells — fat cells, macrophages and vascular endothelial cells,” noted Cisneros-Zevallos in the statement. “They modulate different expressions of genes and proteins depending on the type of compound. However, at the same time, all of them are working simultaneously in different fronts against the components of the disease, including obesity, inflammation, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.”
Cisneros-Zevallos and his team of researchers plan to study the effect each compound has on the molecular mechanisms and to confirm the results with mice studies. The project was collaboratively funded by the California Tree Fruit Agreement, The California Plum Board, the California Grape and Tree Fruit League, and the Texas Department of Agriculture. The research results will be presented at the American Chemical Society in Philadelphia this upcoming August.
“Bioactive compounds of a fruit have been shown to potentially work in different fronts against a disease,” concluded Cisneros-Zevallos in the statement. “Each of these stone fruits contain similar phenolic groups but in differing proportions so all of them are a good source of health promoting compounds and may complement each other.”