Could dried plums be the key to colonizing Mars? Maybe, according to new research.
Dried plums provide protection from bone loss due to radiation like that experienced by astronauts, cancer patients and people undergoing radiotherapy, based on new science from Texas A&M and NASA.
The researchers used rodents for their trial, as the effects of radiation on bones occurs very quickly in rodents. (Also, there might not have been a horde of human volunteers for a radiation trial). They analyzed several different interventions known to have antioxidant or anti-inflammatory properties to examine their effects on oxidative stress-related factors leading to cancellous bone loss, also known as “spongy bone.” They used ibuprofen, an antioxidant cocktail, dihydrolipoic acid and dried plum. Previous research has suggested that plums can prevent bone loss. They are packed with polyphenols, powerful antioxidants with anti-inflammatory properties.
"Dried plums contain biologically active components that may provide effective interventions for loss of structural integrity caused by radiotherapy or unavoidable exposure to space radiation incurred over long-duration spaceflight," said research team member, Texas A&M AgriLife Research scientist Nancy Turner, PhD, in a post about the study on medicalxpress.com.
Of all the interventions, the plums were most effective.
"From this study, we can conclude that inclusion of dried plums in the diet may prevent the skeletal effects of radiation exposures either in space or here on Earth," said Turner. The results of the study were published in Scientific Reports.