Some of us may have heard of umeboshi, which has been a part of the Japanese diet for centuries due to its many health benefits. Because of this pickled plum’s acquired taste, the recent generation has not been consuming umeboshi as much as the previous ones, but no one can deny that it is good for the body.
In this article, we’ll break down what umeboshi is as well as the top 10 health benefits it offers.
Umeboshi translates to “Japanese pickled plums”, however, they’re not exactly plums. Umeboshi is made out of the fruit called “ume” and this fruit is a cross between a plum and an apricot. They are often eaten during the wintertime, but they are beneficial for health all year round. The ume fruit is pickled and salt-dried during the summertime, though.
The people of Japan have been using umeboshi as medicine for centuries, a common natural cure for the cold or flu. This pickled plum is extremely popular in Japan and it comes in three forms: actual pickled plum, purée or vinegar. Umeboshi has a strong taste due to its high content of citric acid, but it can be worth it for the health benefits they offer.
1. Promotes liver health
Umeboshi is a great detoxifier as it contains picric acid. This helps to improve and stimulate liver functions, which clears out the toxins in our bodies. Our livers can get damaged in a variety of ways including excessive alcohol consumption and obesity.
In a 2012 study in the World Journal of Gastroenterology, 58 patients with liver disease had decreased liver damage after consuming ume fruit extract. Also because of its detoxifying factor, umeboshi can actually help with hangovers!
2. Rich in antioxidant value
Antioxidants are good for your body in general as they neutralise dangerous substances in your body. Umeboshi is rich in antioxidant compounds — research shows that umeboshi plums have over 20 different types of antioxidants, which protects our body from various diseases and free radicals.
3. Stabilises blood sugar
One of the best health benefits of umeboshi is that it can stabilise your blood sugar. A study in 2013 showed that the ume fruit affects a receptor in your body that is responsible for the increase in the uptake of glucose. Blood sugar levels can normalise if the cells in your body are able to use and transport more glucose.
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4. Strengthens bone health
Polyphenols are a type of plant compound that is good for bone health, and the umeboshi plum is full of them. In a study that was published in Food Chemistry, it was found that the ume fruit has anti-osteoporosis properties, which prevent bone loss and protects the bones from beating weak and brittle.
In fact, the polyphenols in the ume fruit can increase the production of collagen, which is the protein needed to strengthen bones.
5. Protects heart health
In umeboshi, some substances help to prevent heart diseases, particularly the plum skin. These substances are called “baniku-ekisu” collectively and they helped to block certain processes that cause atherosclerosis, which is the hardening of the arteries that is one of the biggest heart diseases in the world.
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6. Good for weight control
For those looking to monitor their weight, umeboshi might be beneficial to you. Umeboshi has decent nutritional value while having a low-calorie count. One gram of umeboshi has less than seven calories, while still being rich in fibre. Foods high in fibre make you feel fuller for longer, making them great, healthy snacks throughout the day.
7. Promotes oral health
Umeboshi also has natural anti-bacterial properties that prevent the growth of harmful bacteria. In a study from 2011, it was found that the ume fruit extract was able to prevent the growth of bacteria that contributed to oral diseases. Another published study in Medical Hypotheses found that the ume fruit extract was able to kill off a specific strain of bacteria that contributed to causing cavities.
8. Support digestive health
As we know, umeboshi is high in fibre. Because of that, they are great foods to help with digestion as well as the gastrointestinal tract. High-fibre foods go through the body undigested and therefore add bulk to stool. Since umeboshi has dietary fibre, it is able to treat constipation and promote regularity.
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9. Prevent gastric ulcers
Gastric ulcers can be extremely painful. It happens when the lining of the intestines or gut becomes inflamed. Luckily, umeboshi can be useful to prevent them. Gastric or stomach ulcers are caused by a bacteria called Helicobacter pylori. The ume fruit contains substances that can inhibit this bacteria and, as a result, reduce inflammation in the intestines.
10. Helps block cancer growth
Last but not least, one of the health benefits that umeboshi offers is that it helps to block cancer growth. In a study in 2007, it was found that an extract of ume fruit was able to stop the growth of liver cancer cells.
In another study, the ume fruit extract was able to kill off the pancreatic cancer cells while sparing the normal and healthy cells. There are also other studies that show how the ume fruit extract has benefits in treating other types of cancer like breast and skin.
Umeboshi contains various properties that are undoubtedly beneficial for health. While it can be hard at first to add this pickled plum to your diet due to its strong flavours, there’s no denying that it can greatly improve your body in more ways than one. The Japanese have been consuming umeboshi for centuries, and it’s no wonder that longevity is envied by the rest of the world. Give umeboshi a try when you’re in Japan next!
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